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Botched restoration makes Turkish antiquities into punchlines

Experts accuse the Turkish government of hiring inexperienced construction companies to restore precious historical monuments, and the results have been predictable.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - APRIL 12: Galata Tower and surrounds are empty during a two-day lockdown imposed prevent the spread of COVID-19 on April 12, 2020 in Istanbul, Turkey. The 48-hour lockdown extends until midnight Sunday and applies to more than two dozen cities, including Istanbul and the capital, Ankara. As of April 12, Turkey has reported 56,956 cases of COVID-19 and 1,198 related deaths. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

The sight of construction workers using jackhammers on the stone walls of the medieval Galata Tower, a hallmark of Istanbul’s ancient silhouette, sparked nationwide outrage in Turkey last month, but it was only the latest on a list of restoration blunders that has grown alarmingly long in recent years.

The footage of workers drilling down a section of the tower’s inner walls was posted on social media in mid-August by the cultural heritage director of the Istanbul municipality, which the main opposition Republican People’s Party wrested from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) last year. The municipality assigned experts to inspect the restoration at the tower, but they were denied entry by the construction firm, commissioned by the central government’s Culture and Tourism Ministry. The work continued behind locked doors even though such projects are required to undergo local inspections.

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