Conservation Turkey

Allianoi archaeologist awarded cultural heritage prize

Ahmet Yaras’s campaign to save Turkey's ancient Roman spa town from flooding is now in the running for one of six €10,000 “grand prizes”

The Turkish archaeologist Dr Ahmet Yaras and his Allianoi Initiative have won a Europa Nostra award

A decade-long campaign led by Turkish archaeologist Ahmet Yaras to prevent the Turkish government from flooding the ancient Roman spa town of Allianoi is one of 28 initiatives to receive a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award. Yaras is now in the running to receive one of six “grand prix” trophies which comes with a €10,000 purse. The six winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Lisbon on 1 June scheduled to coincide with Europa Nostra's annual European Heritage Congress (30 May-2 June).

Yaras, who lost his battle to save the second-century site from being submerged by water released from the Yortanli dam in late 2011, received praise from the jury who felt that his long-lasting campaign has “ushered in a new era for civic intervention in cultural heritage in Turkey,” noting that his actions has inspired others to protest against the 1,300 new hydroelectric stations and dams throughout the region.

Five projects in Spain were also recognised including the 32-year restoration of the Royal Spanish College in Bologna, a project to restore a 1920s steel blast furnace in Sagunto in the eastern part of the country and a study on the structure, history and conservational state of the Nolla Palace in Valencia. The building is the former home of Miguel Nolla Bruixet, a successful 19th-century tile manufacturer who transformed the palace into a showroom by decorating its interior and exterior with elaborate tile mosaics.

The completion of £1.6m project to restore the London home and studio of the Victorian artist Frederic Leighton (1830-96) also was honoured. The jury applauded the authenticity of the project in which “all the remarkable interiors, from the gorgeous Arab Hall, with its fountain and collection of Islamic tiles which Leighton himself brought back from Damascus, his enormous working studio, with separate back stairs for models and dealers, to his own austere little bedroom” were restored to their full glory.

For more information on the winners of the 2012 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards and Europa Nostra's upcoming European Heritage Congress, see their website.

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