Turkish president breaks ground at giant opera house

Istanbul’s iconic Ataturk Cultural Center, a landmark step in the nation’s art and culture including a giant opera house, will be completed in less than two years, said Turkey’s president on Sunday.

“We will complete [construction of] the Istanbul Ataturk Cultural Center in a short period of time, some two years, and we will put it in the service of artists and culture lovers,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a groundbreaking ceremony for the new center in Taksim Square.

“Today we are taking a significant step that will be a breakthrough in our country’s art and culture,” added Erdogan.

Telling how the project was first announced in November 2017, he said today marks a new phase in its realization.

He said the center, representing an investment of 850 million Turkish liras ($162 million), would have five separate sections spanning over 95,000 square meters.

Erdogan said the building will boast an opera hall that seats over 2,000 people and sets new international standards, a theatre hall that seats over 800, backstage rooms, and fair areas.

The center will also feature meeting rooms, administrative offices, and restaurants, he added.

Erdogan said that the old center was unable to meet Istanbul’s needs and was in disrepair and needed renovation, as detailed by various reports since 2007.