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Historic German fountain damaged in Sultanahmet

Posted on 7 February 2011

German fountain on Hippodrome. Photo: Slawomira Kozieniec

The German Fountain, one of the iconic monuments in the touristic area of Sultanahmet has been damaged by ignorance and carelessness.

‘Historic fountain was cleaned like a pavement’ was the headline by the newspaper Haber Türk.

Unprofessional workmen, without the assistance of any expert, cleaned the outside and inside of the fountain with high water pressure equipment. As a result part of the ceiling, covered with gold leaf mosaic, was blown away. The damage is now covered with some red plaster work. It is unbelievable that such a work of the unique cultural heritage of Istanbul was cleaned by workers who are not educated in doing this kind of work.

The German Kaiser Wilhelm II donated the fountain as a gift in1901 to the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II during a state visit to Constantinople to take part in the celebrations to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdulhamid II’s accession to the throne.

The green domed fountain with its beautiful stonework looks like a little gazebo from a distance. It is located near the northern end of the Hippodrome, that was the center of Byzantium’s life for thousand years and of Ottoman life for another 400 years. The monograms of both rulers appear on the golden mosaic inside the dome.

The culture and arts commission of the Istanbul city council was commissioned to examine the damage to the historic fountain. Their report was discussed on January 11. The debate of who was responsible for the the damage and how to repair the mosaics is ongoing.

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