Istanbul Technical University, Restoration Programme Graduate Students, “Abudara (Parmakkapi) Synagogue in Istanbul”

Jewish people have been living in Istanbul since the 5th century. They have built synagogues in the neighborhoods they lived; Balat, Haskoy and Galata are some of them. Abudara (Parmakkapi) Synagogue was built in Haskoy, on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn. The present structure dates from the 19th century. According to documents from the Ottoman archives, an earlier structure which stood at the same location was damaged by a fire in 1804 and restored. During this operation, the timber roof was replaced by a masonry vault. The decoration on the walls and the vault dates from 1832. The building had an important role in the social and religious life of the Jewish community living in Haskoy.  However, after the foundation of Israel, many of the Jewish people in Istanbul migrated and the Jewish neighborhoods lost their native population.  Abudara Synagogue belongs to the Jewish community of Istanbul but as a result of the diminished number of inhabitants, it is not used as a sanctuary since 1950’s. It was closed to prayers and rented to be used as a workshop producing mechanical parts.

Being rented as a workshop was not good for the historic building; it was treated like an ordinary building.

Being rented as a workshop was not good for the historic building; it was treated like an ordinary building. The courtyard was covered to gain more space. Its maintenance was neglected; it was subjected to major interventions, dividing the interior space into smaller units. However, some of the decorative elements survived. Original tiles of the windowsills are kept in-situ. The surface of the ground floor walls was covered by a new paint layer. The presence of two different decorative schemes under the paint layer indicates the treatments  at different periods. As it has remained without significant change, the decoration on the walls of the upper floor and the vault reflects the  good quality of the original work.

Abudara Synagogue is a masonry building, built of limestone and bricks. It is rectangular in plan, measuring 14,7 x 10,7 m. On the east wall of main space, above the “Heikhal” (a cabinet in which Torah scrolls are kept), there are two inscription plates which tell about the repair of the synagogue in 1836. In order to develop a sound project for the rehabilitation and restoration of the synagogue, old photographs of the building and the area were investigated. Unfortunately, not many photos were available; however most of the extant details, such as tiles, wall decorations and windows provided evidence about the original design. For the missing parts; currently active synagogues of the area were visited and studied. The functional scheme of synagogues was analyzed and positions of “Heikhal” and “Tebah” (a table from which the Torah is read, and a desk for the prayer leader) could be indicated on the plan.

A key concern is protecting the symbolic and sacred values of the monument, while responding to public interest and the request of the Jewish community in Istanbul.

The restoration project emphasizes the historical- cultural importance of the building and proposes to use the Abudara Synagogue as an art gallery. A key concern is protecting the symbolic and sacred values of the monument, while responding to public interest and the request of the Jewish community in Istanbul.

In order to protect its cultural heritage value and return the sanctuary to its original spatial form, additions from the 20th century will be removed. They interfere with the interior space and ruin the spatial quality of the courtyard. Restoration proposal is developed with the principle of minimum intervention to the original structure.  Appropriate materials and methods will be used to repair the damaged fabric.

In order to conserve and clean the decoration on the wall surfaces of walls, expert conservators will be engaged.  We hope that,  when the restoration study is completed, Abudara Synagogue will  gain a new life, its meaning  and original  form will be visible and  its heritage character will continue with  due respect.

Istanbul Technical University
Restoration Programme Graduate Students:
Feyza Yagci
Kadir Ekinci
Melis Sabuncuoglu
Selin Sur

Revisiting the cloister, UK event

Revisiting the cloister: monasteries and convents in nineteenth-century Britain

Remarkably important yet often overlooked, architecture produced for Roman Catholic and Anglican religious communities of men and women in Britain is a fascinating area of study. Many of these sites and groups boldly and uniquely put eclectic architectural styles and principles into practice.
They were places of refuge, controversy, experimentation and innovation.
Many of the Victorian period’s greatest architects, including AWN Pugin, GE Street and GF Bodley, were closely involved with monastery and convent design.
Recent research demonstrates that buildings associated with monks and nuns of both denominations are distinctive and unique, blending numerous functions within a single complex in remarkable ways. There are also impressive and notable histories of patronage and many communities were powerful and persuasive in creating spaces that looked back to medieval models and forward to modern needs and facilities.
In recent years many of these pioneering communities have dwindled and their complex architectural spaces are under threat. The histories of these groups and their particular contribution to British architecture have received limited attention from scholars.

Saturday 6 October 2012. 10am to 5.15pm at the Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1 at 10am. Doors open at 9.30am. The venue is conveniently placed for Holborn and Russell Square tube stations and numerous bus services.

Booking essential – spaces are limited. Contact the Victorian Society for more information. www.victoriansociety.org.uk

UK Historic Religious Buildings Alliance – new website

This is an independently-funded group within the The Heritage Alliance (established in 2002 as Heritage Link). This is the biggest alliance of heritage interests in the UK and was set up to promote the central role of the non-Government movement in the heritage sector.

The Historic Religious Buildings Alliance was set up in 2008. They bring together those working for a secure future for historic religious buildings.

For everyone: Our free e-newsletter keeps everyone up to date with news and events concerning the future of historic religious buildings.

For members: We provide briefings to members on matters of mutual interest, help them share information with each other, and publicise their activities via the e-newsletter.   You can find out more about membership here.

Consultations: When appropriate, we provide a communication channel with government for our representative members, on matters affecting historic religious buildings in Great Britain.

The Historic Religious Buildings Alliance – Who we are.

Religious tourism Religious tourism growing in UK

Religious tourism is on the increase with a growing number of people visiting historic places, according to the Church in Wales.

Although only anecdotal evidence is available, church leaders say there is a renewed interest in holy sites.

St Winefride’s Holy Well in Flintshire reports a rise of about 6,000 visitors to 36,000 in recent years.

Religious tourism Religious tourism growing in UK – eTurboNews.com.

MALTA Giuseppe Cali’ apse painting undergoing restoration

The monumental painting by the talented and prolific Maltese artist Giuseppe Calì (1846-1930), that decorates the main apse of Stella Maris parish church in Sliema is undergoing extensive restoration.

The painting, which was executed in the artist’s romantic academic style, is entitled The Virgin of Stella Maris with Pope Leo XIII and is signed and dated 1889 in the bottom right-hand corner. In 2011, the parish priest, Fr Joe Bartolo, entrusted ReCoop Ltd with the restoration, which is being directed by conservator Roderick Abela.

The large scaffolding erected in the choir and apse was installed by the Resources and Rural Affairs Ministry.

INDEPENDENT online.

Pan-European Religious Heritage Routes

Europe offers a wide variety of cultural tourism itineraries that, crossing several regions or countries, provide a living example of the rich and impressive European common heritage. With the promotion of cultural itineraries, the European Commission aims to raise awareness on the need for a new kind of tourism, which is respectful of the environment, of the natural and cultural heritage and of the local traditions.

  • The Via Francigena: The “Via Francigena” is an historical pilgrimage route, from Canterbury to Rome, taken by thousands of pilgrims during past centuries. The route follows the path that Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, took to get to Rome in order to meet Pope John XV and receive the investiture pallium. For more information: www.associazioneviafrancigena.com

  • Saint Martin of Tours: St. Martin of Tours is known worldwide for having shared his cloak with a beggar. His gesture is the universal symbol of sharing. The cultural itinerary dedicated to St. Martin of Tours (more than 450 km of paths including Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg) links up the European towns and cities which shared in Saint’s life. For more information: www.saintmartindetours.eu

  • The Al-Andalus Route: “Al-Andalus” is the name to the territory occupied by the Muslim empire in Southern Spain from the early 8th to the late 15th century. These routes, which include the cities of Almeria, Malaga, Cadiz, Seville, Cordoba, Jaen and Granada, aim at contributing to the debate on the historical importance of interreligious dialogue in forging European civilisation. For more information: www.legadoandalusi.es

  • The Saint James’ Ways: The Way of St James, the pilgrimage to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (in north-western of Spain) where the apostle Saint James the Great is said to be laid to rest, is a collection of more than 100 medieval pilgrimage routes which cover all Europe. The Santiago routes are a symbol of the cultural cooperation in Europe. For more information: www.chemin-compostelle.com

  • Transromanica – The Romanesque Routes of European Heritage:  A journey along the Romanesque Routes of European Heritage means travelling back into medieval times. Transromanica guides you to castles, cathedrals and monasteries built between the 10th and 12th century. For more information: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/cultureheritage/culture/routes/transromanica_en.asp

  • St. Olav Ways: The St. Olav Ways consists of a network of more than 5000 km in Scandinavia that interconnects many places related to St. Olav. Churches, monasteries and chapels are a part of the St. Olav Roads. For more information: http://www.culture-routes.ro/en/itineraries/the-route-of-saint-olav-ways.html

EUROPA – Press Releases – Pan-European Cultural Routes: A journey through Europe’s shared cultural heritage.

Pan-European Religious Heritage Routes

Europe offers a wide variety of cultural tourism itineraries that, crossing several regions or countries, provide a living example of the rich and impressive European common heritage. With the promotion of cultural itineraries, the European Commission aims to raise awareness on the need for a new kind of tourism, which is respectful of the environment, of the natural and cultural heritage and of the local traditions.

  • The Via Francigena: The “Via Francigena” is an historical pilgrimage route, from Canterbury to Rome, taken by thousands of pilgrims during past centuries. The route follows the path that Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, took to get to Rome in order to meet Pope John XV and receive the investiture pallium. For more information: www.associazioneviafrancigena.com

  • Saint Martin of Tours: St. Martin of Tours is known worldwide for having shared his cloak with a beggar. His gesture is the universal symbol of sharing. The cultural itinerary dedicated to St. Martin of Tours (more than 450 km of paths including Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg) links up the European towns and cities which shared in Saint’s life. For more information: www.saintmartindetours.eu

  • The Al-Andalus Route: “Al-Andalus” is the name to the territory occupied by the Muslim empire in Southern Spain from the early 8th to the late 15th century. These routes, which include the cities of Almeria, Malaga, Cadiz, Seville, Cordoba, Jaen and Granada, aim at contributing to the debate on the historical importance of interreligious dialogue in forging European civilisation. For more information: www.legadoandalusi.es

  • The Saint James’ Ways: The Way of St James, the pilgrimage to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (in north-western of Spain) where the apostle Saint James the Great is said to be laid to rest, is a collection of more than 100 medieval pilgrimage routes which cover all Europe. The Santiago routes are a symbol of the cultural cooperation in Europe. For more information: www.chemin-compostelle.com

  • Transromanica – The Romanesque Routes of European Heritage:  A journey along the Romanesque Routes of European Heritage means travelling back into medieval times. Transromanica guides you to castles, cathedrals and monasteries built between the 10th and 12th century. For more information: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/cultureheritage/culture/routes/transromanica_en.asp

  • St. Olav Ways: The St. Olav Ways consists of a network of more than 5000 km in Scandinavia that interconnects many places related to St. Olav. Churches, monasteries and chapels are a part of the St. Olav Roads. For more information: http://www.culture-routes.ro/en/itineraries/the-route-of-saint-olav-ways.html

EUROPA – Press Releases – Pan-European Cultural Routes: A journey through Europe’s shared cultural heritage.

Balkan nations pledge to use religious heritage to boost ties

Eleven southeastern European countries pledged at a UNESCO-organised summit in Bosnia to use their religious, cultural and historic heritage to boost ties, the FENA news agency reported.

In a joint declaration, adopted in Bosnia’s historic southern town of Mostar, top officials from the 11 countries agreed to protect their cultural heritage as an “important basis for understanding and more intensive cooperation between our countries.”

Balkan nations pledge to use cultural heritage to boost ties – Yahoo!7.