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Edinburgh World Heritage/KORU Project, Turkey

This project is a first for Turkey

Prof. Eva Sarlak - KMKD

KORU Project, Turkey

    KORU Project

    The KORU project aims to ‘build capacity’ in Turkey – developing and strengthening the skills needed to survive, adapt, and thrive – for Mardin’s local monument protection sector, and encourage a wider engagement with cultural heritage.


    Cultural diplomacy in action

    Protecting Turkey's heritage

    The KORU Project is working in Turkey to develop the local capacity to protect the rich heritage in the southern cities of Mardin and Antakya (formerly known as Antioch). The project is run with local partners Kültürel Mirası Koruma Derneği (Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage) and funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund.

    Running for three years until March 2020, the project will document buildings at risk, conserve a historic tenement and bring it back in use, develop heritage conservation skills among local communities through trainings and workshops, and help implement a sustainability programme for historic sites. With the current political situation in the area the local built heritage is at particular risk of decline and damage.

    “Kültürel Mirasın Korunmasında Kapasite Geliştirilmesi” is the official project name, which can be translated as “Capacity Building in Cultural Heritage Protection”. KORU is both the abbreviation and the slogan of the project derived from the official name, which means “PROTECT”.


    Where is the project taking place?

    The project is working primarily in Mardin and in Antakya in south/south-eastern Turkey, near the border with Syria. Located in Anatolia, a major crossroads between Asia and Europe, the region has a rich and ancient history. This is reflected in its abundance of archaeological, architectural and cultural heritage sites influenced by Romans, Greeks, Asyrians and Ottomans, amongst many others, and lies within ancient Mesopotamia where some of the world’s oldest civilisations developed.

    In more modern times, the close proximity of both Mardin and Antakya to Syria have seen the civil war occasionally spill over the border.

    What is the project doing?

    The project has four main pillars:

    1. To document existing architectural heritage
    2. Community engagement, learning and training
    3. Energy efficiency and sustainability of historic cities
    4. Safety – recognising that the work takes place in an area of conflict

    During the course of the project, comprehensive training sessions are being delivered within Mardin and Antakya for local stakeholders within the region. They include practical training on maintenance for stone masons, carpenters and historic property owners; conservation management and awareness training for heritage professionals and teachers in the public and private sector; professional tourist guides as well as journalists who report on culture.

    EWH director Adam Wilkinson at our first training session. See more photos here.

    The project will also deliver two summer schools for young people in Mardin and Antakya as well as two Leadership Schools in Edinburgh for people who have taken part in our other training programmes. The Edinburgh schools will emphasise the leadership aspects of heritage-led urban regeneration and heritage management and involve local and international leaders as trainers.

    A Restoration Lab has been set up to restore a derelict building in Mardin to showcase restoration techniques and create a local centre that can be used by the community. After completion, the Lab will host the project exhibition and will have an instrumental role in raising awareness on sustainable restoration. The building has a private owner but it is being looked after by the Mardin Museum. It will also be used as a learning tool for participants from the training sessions and summer schools.

    Finally, the project is working to set up an online Buildings at Risk Register (BARR) for Mardin to document the historic buildings in the city and highlight those that are in greatest need of restoration and repair. This will aid in conservation management and planning in the region.

    For more information, visit the project website.

    The project in numbers


    The size of the grant


    People trained to date

    300 BCE

    Founding of Antakya

    86 000

    Population of Mardin

    The first workshop

    Scenes from the first workshop of the project so far.

    “This project is about sharing our knowledge and experience, and it's also a response to the British government's call for more activity in the area of cultural diplomacy.”

    Krzysztof Chuchra

    International Programme Project Manager

    Talking Turkey

    The latest update

    The project is now up and running. The first training took place in Mardin in February 2018 and proved a great success with around 80 participants from the local community. Find out more about it (click here). Permission has been secured to undertake capital works at the Restoration Lab and a material analysis is currently being carried out to specify new materials to be used. The long term use of the Lab has been ensured with an agreement with the Museum of Mardin, the buildings owner. In September 2018 the first Summer School will be run for young people and has seen a very high level of interest. We will be welcoming delegates from Turkey and across Europe to Edinburgh in December 2018 as we host the first of our Edinburgh Leadership Schools.