Ankara's Jewish Quarter threatened by urban transformation project

Ankara's Jewish Quarter is under threat of destruction by a state project, Ankara Architects Chamber Chair Tezcan Karakuş Candan said. A four-stage urban transformation project threatens to destroy the historical neighborhoods in the Ulus district, Candan noted.

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Ankara's Jewish Quarter and the historical neighborhood in Ulus, symbols of diversity in the Turkish capital, are under threat of destruction, Ankara Architects Chamber Chair Tezcan Karakuş Candan said. 

A four-stage urban transformation project is underway for the Jewish Quarter, Hacı Bayram Neighborhood and Kale Neighborhood by the Environment and Urbanization Ministry and the Altındağ District Municipality, Candan noted. 

"Why isn't Ankara Municipality getting involved in these projects designed for their jurisdiction? Is the city giving up on the city's most valuable cultural heritage?" Candan said, protesting the metropolitan municipality's inaction about the projects.

Ankara Municipality was similarly indifferent about Saraçoğlu Neighborhood, Candan said, noting the supposed "rehabilitation" of the first public housing project in the republic's history, which the Ankara Architects Chamber is legally fighting as they say it threatens the historical nature of the area.

There have been "suspicious" fires in the Jewish Quarter recently, Candan noted, adding that the neighborhood has been "vulnerable, neglected and threatened" for a long time. 

"This is just a continuation of the political process of creating profit under the guise of 'transformation,'" Candan said. 

It's essential that the city creates a protection plan for Ulus, particularly the historical neighborhood, Candan noted, adding that the city has currently abandoned the area to the ministry. 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been notorious about construction projects, with the president boasting about turning the country into a construction site and ministries often overlooking environmental precautions for profit.