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Fire-Hit Greek Hospital in Istanbul Restored

Fire burning Balikli Greek Hospital in Istanbul on August 4, 2022.
The historic Balıklı Greek Hospital suffered extensive damage in a fire in 2022. Credit: Twitter / Order of St Andrew @OrderStAndrew

The exterior restoration of the Balıklı Greek Hospital in Istanbul, which was severely damaged by a fire, has been completed, while interior renovations are ongoing, Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday.

The historic Balıklı Greek Hospital suffered extensive damage in a fire that broke out on August 4, 2022, with the smoke visible from many districts of Istanbul.

“Our Greek community received a great blow today,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said on the day of the disaster.

“One of its greatest philanthropic institutions that treated with loving care our older brothers and sisters were heavily damaged by a catastrophic fire,” Bartholomew said.

Despite efforts by fire brigades from various districts, the building, which had stood for years, could no longer be used.

The cause of the fire at Istanbul’s Greek hospital was not determined

Following an investigation by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) Fire Department, the cause of the fire could not be definitively determined. After initiating an investigation into the incident, the Bakırköy Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to pursue charges, as the hospital management did not file a complaint.

Efforts were then made to accommodate the 104 individuals who had been residing in the wing treating the elderly in the hospital to other sections of the facility.

Under the coordination of the Istanbul Governorship, Zeytinburnu Municipality, and hospital management, restoration work on the building has been completed.

The exterior has been restored to its original appearance, faithful to the building’s historic design.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency about the work carried out, Balıklı Greek Hospital Foundation President Konstantin Yuvanidis said that the exterior of the building had been completed.

Noting that the work inside the building is continuing, Yuvanidis stated that the rooms would be separated, and works regarding bathrooms and toilets, heating installations, elevators, and ventilation would be carried out.

Yuvanidis added that, in line with the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, Istanbul Governor Davut Gül, Zeytinburnu Mayor Ömer Arısoy, and District Governor Adem Uslu helped with the work.

Renovation of the old building of the hospital is expected to be completed by summer. Once completed, the building will be furnished with necessary items for the patients and put to use.

The Greek American community also helped finance the restoration project by pledging 350,000 US dollars. Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, who arrived in Istanbul a few days after the fire, informed the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the fundraising.

The history of the Greek hospital in Istanbul

The Balıklı Greek Hospital was originally established in 1753 by the Union of Greek Grocers. The immediate objective of the hospital was to help cure epidemics and common diseases specifically affecting the ethnic Greek population of Constantinople.

By the end of the 18th century, the Greek community of Constantinople had built three hospitals: this particular one in 1762, another in the district of Galata, and, in 1780, a third in Pera. All three hospitals had their own particular constitutions, but they were all placed under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who was responsible for nominating the administrative boards of the hospitals.

The hospitals’ records reveal the community’s hospitals were open to all patients regardless of ethnic origin and religious beliefs.

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