Historic beer factory to be replaced with a mosque - Reuters

Turkey’s first modern brewery could be demolished and replaced with a mosque after being handed to the country’s top religious authority, a leading Istanbul architect told Reuters on Wednesday.

Istanbul’s conservation board approved the handover of the Bomonti Beer Factory to the Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet, early this week. Built in 1890 and shut down a century later, it is one of Istanbul’s most significant early industrial sites, designated a protected cultural asset in 1998.

“The structures are very important. It takes you to the past,” a member of the Istanbul Architects Chamber who asked not to be identified told Reuters. “It is more than an architectural heritage. The Bomonti beer factory was very special.”

She said the Diyanet planned to build a mosque on the site, along with a residence and exhibition space. 

Part of the campus was demolished about 10 years ago to build a hotel, while another building was sold off and rebuilt into Bomontiada, a compound of cafes and restaurants with a microbrewery and night club. 

The Treasury owns the remaining buildings, and in 2017 asked the Diyanet to develop a proposal for the site, according to the architect. In June, the conservation board approved a project by Halil Onur, the same architect behind the plans to replace Istanbul’s Gezi Park with an Ottoman-style barracks, which sparked massive protests. 

Onur’s vision for Bomonti includes the demolition of several buildings and the construction of new facilities. The architect told Reuters that a demolition license had not yet been issued, adding that the country’s engineers and architects union planned to take legal action to prevent it.

“The judiciary is usually late to halt the implementation. What needs to happen is for the local government and the people of Istanbul to stop this wrong practice,” the architect added.