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The role of vakıf institution in the conservation of vakıf based cultural heritage

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2009
Akar, Tuba
Founded by individuals for religious and charity purposes, the Vakıf institution was the main institution in the construction and conservation of the built environment in the Ottoman period. Religious, charitable, municipal, educational, social and health services were provided by spaces such as külliyes, mosques, medreses, hans, baths, shops, etc. which were built through the Vakıf Institution. As the underlying concept of the vakıf institution was serving forever, the repair of these spaces the vakıf buildings was accepted as a fundamental issue for ensuring the functionality and continuity of the vakıf. With this aim, vakıf institution set the legal, administrative, technical and financial bases for the continuity of the system within its autonomous and local structure in the classical Ottoman period. With the westernization movements in the Tanzimat era, vakıfs were gathered under a central institution called Evkaf Nezareti, which had a central budget and administrative structure. In the Republican period, the General Directorate of Pious Foundations (GDPF) took this centralized institutional structure as it was and since then GDPF has been the heir of the vakıf institution and vakıf heritage in Turkey. However, GDPF has still not adopted an effective conservation policy. GDPF’s attitudes towards the conservation of the vakıf cultural properties are far from the understandings of the classical vakıf system. Briefly, the change of the main concept of the vakıf system after the classical Ottoman period can be considered as the main reason for the increased number of vakıf buildings in ruinous state. From this perspective, this thesis aims at forming a model mainly based on adapting the positive aspects of the classical vakıf system into the GDPF’s conservation mechanism of vakıf-based immovable cultural properties. The focus is given on the examination and comparison of the vakıf system’s past and present attitudes towards sustainable conservation. In this line, it is aimed to adapt the vakıf systems’ applicable legal, administrative and financial approaches towards the conservation to GDPF within the limits of the current administrative and legal system. At another level, the functionality of the proposed model forming of the necessary administrative and legal arrangements is given importance.