Earthquake In Turkey: Heritage - Istanbul's fabled skyline `unscathed' collection of historic buildings `unscathed' say initial reports

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The Independent Online
THE SKYLINE is as unforgettable as Venice or Manhattan, with its forest of minarets and domes rising over the Bosporus. But the devastating earthquake that struck Istanbul yesterday has raised fears for the safety of this ancient city's cultural heritage.

Initial reports suggested the city's great monuments had escaped unscathed but it will be some time before Istanbul's ancient churches, mosques and palaces can be surveyed for structural damage.

They have always stood in peril from the faultline that runs so close to the city. Earthquake engineers regularly visit the main sites to see how they can be protected.

Aya Sofya, for centuries the largest and most important church in the world, escaped yesterday but damage to any of the main sights would be one more blow to Turkey's reeling tourism industry. Among the other monuments the engineers will survey when the dust has cleared will be the Blue Mosque, built in the 17th century, and the legendary harem at the Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman sultans.

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