The Turkish presidency cut down trees in the courtyard of Istanbul's Topkapı Palace, an archaeological protection area, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi said, daily Sözcü reported on Nov. 23.
Ownership of the palace had been transferred to the presidency from the Culture and Tourism Ministry with a presidential decree in September of last year.
"The palace had been facing many struggles since the transfer, and most recently, they cut down the trees in the protected area without any permits," the deputy noted.
Employees working for the Culture and Tourism Ministry in the ancient artifact warehouses on the palace's campus have been pressured to evacuate their space, the deputy added.
"Only two or three employees have been granted special permission to enter their labs on-site," Akkuş İlgezdi said.
Meanwhile, buildings that belonged to the military school that was on the palace's premises have been demolished as well.
While Vice President Fuat Oktay said that the Culture Ministry's facilities on site would be moved to other locations, the CHP deputy said this meant the buildings on the palace's site would be demolished as well.
First used by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1478, Topkapı Palace was the primary residence for 30 sultans who followed and spanned across 700,000 square meters of land, now reduced to less than half.