Laureates 2004

2004 Past - Cities: Historical Legacy


istanbulIstanbul has made one of the most important contributions to humanity, for it embodies the history of West and East in miniature, proudly caring for and displaying the monuments and treasures of its grand empires.

The city of Istanbul stands precisely between West and East: geographically, historically and culturally.

At the time of the Byzantine empire, when the city was called Constantinople, it represented the center of Christianity in the East. After the Ottoman conquest in 1453, the city became the capital of a "multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, and multi-confessional state". Istanbul has a "unique position as the cultural capital of the sole secular state among Muslim countries with almost a century-old democratic tradition."

Today, Istanbul remains the country's cultural center and offers a model of tolerance for what still remains a divided Middle East. Istanbul has therefore inspired a number of institutions whose mission is to safeguard its past and engage the past constructively into the present.

The 2004 Dan David Prize will be given to the city's authorities, which will allocate the prize money to the following institution:

The Economic and Social History Foundation of Turkey (Tarih Vakfi) for working in the public interest to educate and create awareness of Turkey's rich history. The Tarih Vakfi is carrying out an ambitious project to restore the Imperial Mint, a long-abandoned structure centrally located between the Ottoman Topkapi Palace and the Byzantine Aya Sofya in order to set up the "Istanbul Museum" there.

After more than ten years of activity and experience, the Tarih Vakfi has proved its ability to organize and carry through a wide variety of projects.