This book explores how the museum concept has expanded beyond the boundaries of a single building into the historic city itself through musealization. Articulating the musealization of historic cities as a specific urban process, the book here presents a study of the transformation of the Sultanahmet district on Istanbul’s historic peninsula, which has been the major focus of planning, conservation and museological studies in Turkey since the 19th century as the public face of the city. The author aims to offer empirically grounded and context-specific insight into the role of museums in the regeneration of historic cities. Musealization as an urban process varies in different geographical, cultural and ideological contexts, and across different time periods. By discussing the Sultanahmet district as a specific context of yet another city subjected to the musealization process, this book provides further insights into this important global phenomenon.
Pınar Aykaç is assistant professor at the Middle East Technical University.
List of Figures
Chapter 1 Introduction: Historic City as a Museum
Chapter 2Symbolic Centre of the Ottoman Empire
Chapter 3Repurposing the Symbolic Monuments: A Strategy for Secularisation
Chapter 4 Sterilising an Emerging Tourist Destination
Chapter 5 Constructed Authenticity of a Tourism Centre
Chapter 6 Glorifying the Ottoman Past
Chapter 7 Conclusion: Musealisation as an Urban Process
About the Author
For anyone who has visited Istanbul and been awed by the millennia-deep heritage of its Sultanahmet district, one might for a moment think this part of the city has always looked this way. That, however, is far from the case. In this fascinating book, Pinar Aykaç exposes meticulously through maps and drawings and text how the district was gradually transformed into what many now regard as an open-air museum. Tracing the positive and negative consequences of this process she terms ‘urban musealization,’ Aykaç explains the changes in political motivation—Tanzimat westernizing reforms, the heroic secular vision of Ataturk’s Republic, colonialist designs by European architects, and today Erdogan’s contentious ‘Muslimification’ strategy—to reveal how built heritage is continually shaped by wider forces. The more the Sultanahmet district is stripped back to showcase the splendours of the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque and such like, what is achieved is not visual clarity but, rather, increasingly complex and overlapping cultural readings. This book captures the paradox brilliantly.