Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Er-doğan, Turkey’s chief EU negotiator Egemen Bağış, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay and Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew gathered in Topkapı Palace on Sunday as several of its sections were re-opened to the public after months of renovation.
The palace’s weapons exhibit, the fourth courtyard and the kitchen underwent restoration, which was completed during the month of Ramadan. Prime Minister Erdoğan attended the opening ceremony on Sunday night, at which he spoke on the importance of historic monuments and their sometimes careless treatment. “Our ancestors ruled three continents and left invaluable monuments everywhere they went. Today, we are rediscovering all of these historic monuments and bringing them to the light of day. This is because a nation that is not aware of its past will not achieve its goals for the future. A people who do not claim their history will not have the consciousness necessary to save their future,” Erdoğan said. He later pointed out that many ancient and historic sites discovered in the last couple of centuries no longer exist because they were not shown adequate care, and added, “We [the Justice and Development Party (AK Party)] recognize the neglect of Turkey’s historic monuments, and we have always shown great interest in restoration since we became the ruling party.”
In his speech at the opening ceremony, Erdoğan said Topkapı Palace is a precious part of not only İstanbul’s heritage but that of Turkey. He stated that the section including the weapons exhibit covers 350 square meters of land, and on display there are weapons dating from the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet [the Conqueror], the 15th century.
Erdoğan noted that the Prophet Muhammad had heralded the conquest of İstanbul in a hadith, saying: “Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will her leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be.” Erdoğan concluded his words saying: “Our prophet mentioned Fatih and his army with words of praise, and today the weapons of that glorious army are exhibited in this palace.”