A Story of Rebirth: The 1958 Fire and Subsequent Reconstructions in the Historical Commercial Centre of Bursa

Çakıcı Alp S.

the Scientific Symposium on “Post Disaster Reconstruction” of ICOMOS AGA&ADCOM 2016, İstanbul, Turkey, 15 - 21 October 2016, pp.35

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: İstanbul
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.35
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


The fires in the historic cities of Turkey are disasters that resulted in major transformations and regenerations in historic areas. As one of the major historic cities in Turkey and the first capital of Ottoman Empire, Bursa was subjected to permanent changes in the physical character of its cultural heritage following several disasters. One such disaster, known as the 1855 earthquake, has mostly destroyed the traditional fabric of the city center and the fires that broke out as a result of the aftershocks ruined the historic buildings. However, despite various reconstructions, historic buildings were just repaired and partially completed, while new buildings were constructed in alignment with new straight roads. Approximately a century later, another disaster, the 1958 fire (known locally as ‘Çarşı Yangını’), broke out within the west part of the Historic Commercial Center (HCC) and caused decays in Bezzestan together with khan buildings and shops surrounding it. Institutions, such as the General Directorate of the Pious Foundations and the High Conservation Council, assumed the responsibility of re-planning and re-building of this area. The Council decided to reconstruct and consolidate the ruins with reinforced concrete systems, and the Pious Foundation prepared and implemented approved restoration projects. Hence, in the following five years, replicas of collapsed monuments were completely reconstructed by using contemporary materials and techniques.

This paper aims to present these reconstructions implemented after the 1958 fire in Bursa. Firstly, the architectural character of the HCC is briefly explained. Then, the reconstruction process in the collapsed part of this center is analyzed, through related Conservation Council decisions that involved repair and restoration of the monumental buildings. Finally, the reasons and results of these reconstructions are discussed within the framework of national and international declarations concerning conservation of cultural heritage in 1960s.