300-year-old caravanserai to receive much-needed restoration

300-year-old caravanserai to 
   receive much-needed restoration

Çukur Han, included on the World Monuments Funds’ list of most endangered sites, is at the beginning of its restoration process by the Culture and Tourism Ministry and will become part of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

July 27, 2007, Friday/ 18:53:00
Çukur Han, a historic 18th-century building in Ankara used as a pit-stop on a caravan route and part of the 2008 World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites -- prepared by the New York-based World Monuments Fund (WMF) - will soon receive some much-needed renovation.This list also contains Hasankeyf in Turkey’s Batman province, the historic walls of İstanbul, the Meryem Ana (Mother of God) Church in Göreme, the Kızıl (Red) Church in Sivrihisar and Çukur Han in Ankara.

Turkey had initiated the restoration work on the Red Church even before receiving notice from the WMF.

In the list published last month, there were 100 historical monuments from 60 countries. The historical monuments in Gazimagusa, in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), were also indicated as a cultural inheritance that needs protection.

Since 1965, the WMF has been preparing and disseminating a list of 100 historic locales that do not receive sufficient care and maintenance and are therefore facing the risk of destruction. Thus, the WMF paves the way for projects to overhaul the endangered historical works. Restoration work on Çukur Han, a caravanserai, will begin this year. The WMF has succeeded in rescuing about 75 percent of the sites in its lists over the last 10 years. The WMF tries to garner the world’s attention so more support can be offered to protect these endangered sites.

Renovation of Çengel Han in Ankara had been previously sponsored by Rahmi Koç, honorary president of the Koç Group, and it was transformed into a museum.

The area between Çukur Han and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations had been used by businessmen and was evacuated after the danger of collapse of Çukur Han appeared. The General Directorate of Foundations had closed the area to public access.

It is one of a few caravanserais that has survived from the Ottoman Empire in Ankara, and was once was used as a prison. Çukur Han, also used as a hotel for some time, is one of the biggest inns (han) in Ankara. The building, owned by the General Directorate of Foundations, was sometimes used by homeless people as a shelter. If it is not renovated, it faces the risk of being completely destroyed. After the restoration is done, Çukur Han will be annexed to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

Of other structures that are at risk of being destroyed -- including Kurşunlu (Mahmut Pasha) caravanserai, Yeni Pirinç Hanı, Çengelli Han, Taşhan, Bakırhan, Suluhan, Tuzhan, Pembehan, Attarbaşıhan, Nasuhpaşahanı and Ayazaik Han in Ankara -- only Çengelli Han can be renovated. While all inns need urgent action for restoration, the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the General Directorate of Foundations have made clear that it is difficult to renovate all of these inns because of budgetary restrictions. For this reason, investment in renovation of these historic works is needed from private individuals and cultural heritage organizations. The Culture Ministry has undersigned a restoration protocol with the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality to rescue Çukur Han.

Koç: We will take Çukur Han to the future

Culture and Tourism Minister Atilla Koç said a restoration protocol was signed between the Ministry of Culture and the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality and that after restoration, the inn will be annexed to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

Koç noted that the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality will soon launch its restoration work on the building and that they are determined to preserve Çukur Han for the future, just like Çengel Han, which was converted to the Rahmi Koç Museum after restoration. After restoration of Çukur Han, Koç said they will enrich the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations with several ancient buildings surrounding the internationally renowned facility.

Koç touched on other sites in Turkey in urgent need of repair. “We are still working on this issue. We are working to renovate Meryem Ana Church. I am doing my job, and they are doing theirs. This is because this legacy does not belong just to us, it is an asset of the world,” he said.

Restoration of Çukur Han will be beneficial to many other historic buildings located inside Ankara’s citadel. Within the scope of its restoration, the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality will expropriate some stores on the Çıkrıkçılar Yokuşu to rebuild them. An area that houses a water cistern that belongs to Ankara Waterworks Authority (ASKİ) near Çukur Han will also be annexed to the museum. In addition, the historic primary school attached to Turkey’s first Parliament in Ulus will be renovated.

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