A statue of an Ottoman prince taking a selfie in the Turkish city of Amasya has become both a major tourist attraction and the victim of multiple vandalizations, as residents and tourists alike differ on whether the artwork is a fun homage to the city’s history or a vulgar commercialization of Turkish culture.
Amasya is a city known in medieval Ottoman times as the place princes were sent for training before taking on the responsibility of sultan. To that end, its officials say, they commissioned a statue of a prince (not any in particular) still walking the streets in 2015. “Amasya is the city of princes” its mayor, Cafer Özdemir, told reporters on Sunday. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with adapting for modern times what has become the symbol of Amasya or for visitors to our city taking pictures with it. There is nothing there that offends or belittles our princes.”
“We built it for a purely visual purpose. We thought it would draw attention,” said Deputy Mayor Osman Akbaş.
Hurriyet reports that the statue first appeared on a walkway over the Yeşilırmak River on Saturday, May 9. By Sunday, someone had broken the phone out of the hands of the prince. Photos taken of the statue before its vandalization show the phone had an image of the prince looking back at himself etched into the screen. Police have yet to find the culprits and appear to be dealing with a second act of vandalism on Monday afternoon: the sword the prince is wielding in his other hand has been broken.
amasya’daki şehzadenin ayfonundan sonra kılıcını da kırmışlar..yakında kellesini de alırlar:))bi rahat vermediler. pic.twitter.com/H29rdWjqOm
— hasan erşan (@hasanmuratersan) May 11, 2015
“They broke the sword of the Amasya prince after his iPhone. … [S]oon they will take his head :)). Can’t catch a break,” wrote journalist Hasan Erşan. The statue currently appears to be protected behind police yellow tape.
Opinions vary widely on whether the prince statue was a good idea, according to remarks various publications collected from passersby. “It is certainly very beautiful. It’s different,” Dilek Tuna, a tourist, told Hurriyet. An anonymous resident of Amasya disagreed to Zaman: “Everybody knows that cell phones did not exist during that time period. It is disrespectful to our ancestors to portray a prince in that way. Whoever broke that part of the statue should have just removed it completely.”
Ramis Topal, an opposition party delegate, protested the statue on Twitter as a waste of government funding: “This is our government’s latest investment in Amasya: A selfie-taking Shahzade. Not a joke.”
It is not yet known whether the local government will repair the statue or remove it.