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 State and municipalities

The main legislating state body for cultural heritage is the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This ministry also rules the councils that give permission to applications of all kinds of restoration projects. Municipalities can be seen as the second “powerful” bodies in cultural heritage field. They can make legislations for cultural heritage on a city basis. Municipalities also fund various cultural heritage projects, mainly restoration. Another important actor in the field is the Directorate General of Foundations (Vaqfs). This body is the continuation of the Ottoman foundation system. They own thousands of historical buildings all over Turkey and fund the restoration of these properties.

 

Organisations and activists

The history of the civil society movement in the field of cultural heritage preservation has begun in the 1960s. It is interesting to note that the first institution which worked intensively on cultural heritage was not a cultural heritage institution. In 1966, a prominent intellectual of Turkey, Çelik Gülersoy became the general manager of Turkey’s Touring and Automobile Association and this association started various cultural heritage projects both in Istanbul and in other heritage areas in Anatolia.

After the initiatives of Turkey’s Touring and Automobile Association, in 1976 another NGO named Association for the Protection of Historic Houses started to realise projects, mainly restoring the civil architecture. In the same year, another NGO added the tourism aspect to cultural heritage. The Association for the Protection of Monuments-Environment-Tourism Assets executed projects with a special emphasis on the importance and effect of tourism on cultural heritage.

The year 1996 was an important one for the civil societal movement in cultural heritage. In the summer of 1996 the second Habitat Summit gathered in Istanbul and many NGOs attended this summit. NGOs working in Turkey, particularly the ones in Istanbul, attached a big importance to this gathering, and this summit accelerated the civil societal movement in Turkey in general. Cultural heritage NGOs were also very active in the process and with the wind of the summit many new NGOs were established. Today, we can talk about thousands of NGOs working on the protection of cultural heritage. Most of them are local ones but there are also some big scale NGOs realising projects not only in Turkey, but also in Europe. However, there is not a comprehensive inventory of the NGOs at the moment.

The year 1996 was an important one for the civil societal movement in cultural heritage. In the summer of 1996 the second Habitat Summit gathered in Istanbul and many NGOs attended this summit. NGOs working in Turkey, particularly the ones in Istanbul, attached a big importance to this gathering, and this summit accelerated the civil societal movement in Turkey in general. Cultural heritage NGOs were also very active in the process and with the wind of the summit many new NGOs were established. Today, we can talk about thousands of NGOs working on the protection of cultural heritage. Most of them are local ones but there are also some big scale NGOs realising projects not only in Turkey, but also in Europe. However, there is not a comprehensive inventory of the NGOs at the moment.