Tourism ministry takes over ownership of Istanbul Maiden's Tower from municipality

The ownership of Istanbul’s historical landmark Maiden's Tower has been transferred from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, opposition left-wing Birgün newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Birgün said that the Maiden's Tower would be turned into a culture and art centre like the city’s famous Galata Tower following the move. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost Istanbul to Ekrem Imamoğlu of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in the March 2019 local elections after over two decades of rule by the AKP and its Islamist predecessor.

The government is frequently accused by critics of failing to cooperate with CHP’s İmamoğlu. 

The İBB on Tuesday rejected the change of ownership of the iconic tower. 

İBB spokesman Murat Ongün said that the Maiden's Tower belonged to a private company and could not be taken from the municipality.

“The Maiden's Tower is not an area under the property of İBB. Therefore, it is not possible to take the property from the İBB,’’ Karar newspaper cited Ongün as saying.

Several other landmark sites have also transferred from the İBB to the General Directorate for Foundations.

 The ministry previously attempted to take over 10 properties of the ministry and refused to work with İBB, according to İmamoğlu.

Last year, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism took over the Galata Tower from the İBB.

In March, the ownership of the city' Gezi Park, where anti-government protests in took place in 2013, was taken from the İBB by the General Directorate of Foundations.