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Turkey’s first and only miniature town Miniaturk
2002 / June

An ancient legend about the creation of the Golden Horn, whose shining waters justify its name at sunset, relates that Zeus, king of the gods, fell in love with Io, daughter of King Inachos of Argos. Hearing of this Zeus's wife Hera determined to take her revenge, and to protect Io from the wrath of Hera, Zeus turned Io into a white heifer. Hera then sent a gadfly to torment her rival, and Io ran distractedly all over the world, causing deep cracks in the earth as she shook her head to rid herself of the gadfly. One of these cracks was the Golden Horn. The horn-shaped estuary was known as Khrysokeras (Golden Horn) in antiquity, and this name has passed into western languages in translated form. The Arabs and Ottoman Turks, on the other hand, called it Halic-i Konstantiniyye (Estuary of Constantinople). This perfect natural harbour, large and deep enough to shelter both the merchant and naval shipping fleets, is one of the most beautiful parts of Istanbul, with many historical buildings along its shores.

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Turkey’s first and only miniature town Miniaturk
2002 / June

Over recent years numerous cultural institutions have been established here, such as the Rahmi Koç Museum, housed in the old anchor factory, and the Feshane or former fez factory, which now hosts fairs and cultural events. Soon to be added to their number are Sütlüce Cultural Centre and Sadabad Park. These are all part of the endeavour to transform the Golden Horn to its former splendour, the latest step in this direction being Miniaturk, Turkey's first and only miniature town. Miniaturk opened on 23 April, as part of the Children's Day celebrations, at Sütlüce on the northern shore. Established by Istanbul Municipality, it is the largest of its kind in the world, covering an area of 60,000 square metres, and comprising 105 famous buildings that reflect our cultural heritage. While most of these are situated in Turkey, some are in other countries of the region. The buildings have been reconstructed here on a scale of 1:25. The selection was made by two leading Turkish historians, Prof Dr Ilber Ortayli and Associate Professor Dr Haluk Dursun.

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Turkey’s first and only miniature town Miniaturk
2002 / June
Inspired by Madurodam in Holland, the man behind this project is Cengiz Özdemir, well-known for many other imaginative events and institutions that have become an integral part of Istanbul's cultural life. Özdemir's objective was to reflect Turkey's rich historical and multicultural heritage. He explains that creating such cultural recreational facilities is one of the rising trends in the world today, and expects Miniaturk to attract large numbers of foreign as well as local tourists. Not only can Istanbul's most famous monuments be seen in miniature here, such as Haghia Sophia, Rumeli Fortress, Galata Tower, Süleymaniye Mosque, Sadullah Pasa House, the Bosphorus Bridge and the Fountain of Ahmed III, but also İnce Minareli Medrese, the houses of Safranbolu, Sümela Monastery, the ancient sanctuary on the summit of Mount Nemrut, Aspendos Theatre, Bursa Ulu Mosque and Atatürk's Mausoleum; and from outside Turkey, the Dome of the Rock, Aqsa Mosque, and Mostar Bridge, to name but a few.
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Turkey’s first and only miniature town Miniaturk
2002 / June

Each of these spectacular monuments reflects the technology and culture of their age. They have survived in a land which has seen countless invasions and wars over the millennia, yet here successive civilisations have not destroyed but preserved the achievements of their predecessors. A visit to Miniaturk is a marvellous opportunity to see celebrated works of architecture scattered in towns and cities that many of us may never get the opportunity to visit. Moreover, the models provide a unique bird's eye view of buildings that in reality tower over us, such as the Byzantine masterpiece of Haghia Sophia, whose dome soars to 55 metres above the ground, the Galata Tower built by the Genoese, and Selimiye Mosque, the 16th century masterpiece of the Ottoman architect Sinan.

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Turkey’s first and only miniature town Miniaturk
2002 / June
The models have been built to a high standard so as to withstand weather conditions of all kinds, and were produced by craftsmen at thirteen ateliers abroad and ten in Turkey. Consultant for the project were executives of the Dutch Madurodam miniature town, and they were so impressed by the high-quality, accuracy and attention to detail of the models produced in Turkey, that they have now decided to work with Turkish craftsmen. The high cost of the project has been met by sponsors, whose names and logos are given on signs next to each model. An enchanting atmosphere is created by the music specially composed by Fahir Atakoglu. A visit to the Park is not only fascinating and fun, but also educational, particularly for children and young people. Miniaturk is a member of the Association of Miniature Towns, which provides a platform for cultural exchange by arranging temporary loans of models from different countries.
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Turkey’s first and only miniature town Miniaturk
2002 / June

This new open-air museum that looks out over the Golden Horn to the historical district of Eyüp on the opposite shore gives a vivid glimpse into 3000 years of history, from antiquity to the Byzantines, and the Seljuks to Ottomans. Here, in imagination you travel in space as well as time, from Istanbul to Pamukkale and Jerusalem to Bosnia.


* By EMEL ÇELEBI Photos SERVET DILBER / PRINT PHOTOBANK TURKEY

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