Significant cultural heritage in Diyarbakir sites at risk as restoration efforts lag behind

Significant cultural heritage in Diyarbakir sites at risk as restoration efforts lag behind
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Sections of historical city walls and three mosques suffered damage from a Maras-based earthquake.

The city of Diyarbakır has been shaken by the aftermath of the Maras-based earthquake, which has left a trail of damage across the historical landscape. The iconic city walls and revered mosques have not been spared, as 30 sections of the historic city walls and three prominent mosques now bear the scars of the seismic event.

The Diyarbakır Association for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets, the vigilant custodians of the region's rich heritage, reported the extent of the damage. The venerable historical walls of Amed, known for their embodiment of various epochs and acknowledged as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, have sustained critical structural harm. The association's report underscores the gravity of the situation, highlighting collapses, vertical-horizontal cracks, joint discharges, and dislodged buttress stones among the issues observed at numerous locations along the walls. Most alarming is the lingering risk of falling stones, posing a continuing danger to the city's inhabitants and historical treasures.

Of particular concern is the damage witnessed between the Goat Bastion and bastions 18-19 at Dagkapi, one of the most iconic sections of the city walls. The earthquake's impact has also extended to the Four-legged Minaret, Sefa Mosque, and Behram Pasha Mosque. While restoration efforts have been initiated at Sefa Mosque, progress remains sluggish in other areas, exposing valuable heritage sites to further deterioration.

A vexing dilemma arises from the stones dislodged by the collapse between bastions No. 18-19, which have been abandoned for approximately seven months. Despite the recurring issue of stone theft, the delayed restoration work in these sections has ignited public outrage. Mahsum Ciya Korkmaz, President of the Chamber of Civil Engineers (İMO) Diyarbakir Branch, expressed deep concern over the neglect of fallen stones and the absence of restoration action. He questioned the rationale behind the delay, considering that institutions have demonstrated the ability to expedite million-dollar tenders on short notice when necessary.

Preservation of Diyarbakır's distinct identity remains paramount. Korkmaz emphasized that historical stones could have been safeguarded even in anticipation of restoration efforts. Restoration, as he highlighted, entails preserving and rejuvenating the existing texture; however, this has not been the case for many of the displaced historical stones. Korkmaz lamented the loss of these vital components of the city's heritage and questioned the efficacy of restoration if the fundamental essence of the city's identity is not protected.

With the situation's urgency apparent, Korkmaz stressed the immediate need for restoration in the earthquake-affected sections of the city walls and urged prompt measures to protect the fallen stones.