Artillery Barracks

The historic “Topçu Kışlası” (Artillery Barracks) in Istanbul’s Taksim Square are to be converted into a shopping mall and might serve as a residence with social facilities, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a speech today, as he unveiled details of some other major urban projects to be rolled out in Istanbul in a near future.

The rebuilding of the Topçu Kışlası was approved by the High Council for Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets on March 1.

The Taksim Square sits at the heart of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu, the main entertainment and arts center, where ambitious large-scale renovation works are currently taking place.

Additonally, the foundations of a third bridge over Istanbul’s Bosphorus will be laid within a few months, Erdoğan said in Ankara while addressing provincial heads of his party.

Erdoğan also said some groups were trying to create obstacles to prevent the implementations of the new urban projects.

“They suspended the Marmaray project by showing some pottery as an excuse. It would have opened three or four years ago under normal conditions. If you really want to reach the level of contemporary civilizations, we must make such investments rapidly,” Erdoğan said.

Marmaray is a large rail project that will connect the two sides of Istanbul, and is a part of a larger plan to ease rail access to Istanbul.

Archeological findings in the Yenikapı section of the project caused delays by raising concerns over the historic heritage present.

“Why don’t you preserve the historic artillery instead of these potteries?” Erdoğan said, criticizing the groups opposing the Marmaray project on the grounds that artifacts were found below its building site.

A third Istanbul airport would be completed within four years, the prime minister added.

Erdoğan said his government aimed to take office in 30 municipalities of Istanbul. “Like a plane tree, we provide our supplement from our deep roots. The roots of a tree are its past, while its trunk is its present and the branches constitute its future. So, each branch and leaf has a vital importance for the health of a tree,” he said.

“We will spend each hour of ever day to serve our people. We do not recognize any excuse [that might hinder us from] serving our nation,” Erdoğan said.