Politics of Loss in a World Heritage Site: The Case of the Historic Vegetable Gardens of the Land Walls of Istanbul

Aksoy A., Kıvılcım Çorakbaş F.

HERITAGE AND SOCIETY, vol.14, pp.112-138, 2021 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 14
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/2159032x.2021.2022917
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Anthropological Literature, Avery, CAB Abstracts, Humanities Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.112-138
  • Keywords: World heritage site, outstanding universal value, Istanbul Land Walls, cultural landscape, historic vegetable gardens, site management, intangible heritage, urban history
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


This paper addresses issues concerning the Istanbul Land Walls Component Area, part of the World Heritage Site of the Historic Areas of Istanbul. The discussion focuses on the conservation status of the historic vegetable gardens (bostanlar in Turkish) in the area adjacent to the monument. The central concern is with the problematical situation, where the agricultural space and culture of the gardens are being denied heritage status, and are presently in the process of being destroyed. The immediate threat to the gardens comes from the forces of urban renewal projects that have been unleashed in Istanbul over the last two decades. It has been extremely difficult for various heritage experts and organizations to effectively challenge the commercial and political imperatives of urban regeneration. First, there is the issue of confronting an institutional and legal edifice with a singular commitment to urban renewal, characterized by an insensitivity to the complexities of urban sites. Furthermore, the core issue resides at the conceptual level, pertaining to the tension between an architectural and monumentalist approach to conservation, on the one hand, and an approach sensitive to cultural landscape, on the other. The fate of the bostanlar will depend upon some form of negotiation and reasonable accommodation between these two contrary perspectives.