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Bruno taut and the program for the protection of monuments in Turkey (1937-38)/ three case studies: Ankara, Edi̇rne and Bursa

Gasko, Giorgio
In 1933 the Ministry of Education set up a program for the protection of Turkish monuments that marks the beginning in the country of restoration works characterized by a scientific and systematic approach (1). Right at the beginning of the operative phase of the program, the German architect Bruno Taut was officially asked by the Ministry to give his professional opinion in three different episodes: the restoration of Mahmut Paşa Bedesteni in Ankara, the monitoring phase to evaluate the condition of several monuments in Edirne, the restoration of Yeşil Türbe in Bursa. The paper offers a critical reading of these episodes on the base of important documentary sources, in the attempt of re-constructing both their chronological sequence and historical background. The most valuable document this paper refers to is the İstanbul Journal, the diary in which Taut recorded the main episodes of his professional agenda in Turkey. Together with this primary source other evidences come from secondary sources included in various Turkish publications, especially the report published in 1935 by the Committee for the Protection of Monuments (Anıtları Koruma Komisyonu). In the case of the restoration of Yeşil Türbe in Bursa then the author had the chance to refer to a Taut’s unpublished text: Bericht über die Renovierung der Yeşil Türbe, the report Taut drew up in analyzing the monument. This is a clear evidence of the official character of this assignment and moreover it represents a source of a paramount importance not only to investigate the relationship between Taut and restoration principles but especially to re-formulate his professional status inside the operative structure of the Ministry of Education. These episodes offer a new angle from which is possible to evaluate the effort of the Ministry in setting the restoration program as a national project aimed at grounding the identity of the new state on its historical heritage. The editing of the monuments as national icons, prime strategy implied in Ministry’s policy, characterizes indeed the work agenda of the selected case studies and clears up the decision to make use of foreign experts’ opinion. By this point of view this side of Taut’s professional activity in Turkey, until now quite ignored, turns to be essential in order to evaluate his role in the re-elaboration of monuments for the benefit of state ideology and his contribution on the topic right at the beginning of the construction of a restoration culture in Turkey.