Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Column of Constantine, Istanbul

As you walk Divan Colu Cd. in central Istanbul you see a strange structure. It reminds you of a tall chimney, a remain of a factory that once was there. This assumption could never have been further from the full truth. This is one of the oldest sights in the city going back 1680 years to the foundation of what used to be Byzantium.

The tall structure in question is the large Column erected on Emperor Constantine’s order in 330 AD to celebrate the foundation of the new capital of the Roman Empire. It used to be the centre of the Emperors forum, which does not exist anymore.

The fact that this column still exists, is amazing. There have been winds and earthquakes, reducing it from 50 to 35 meters in height. There used to be top decorations depicting Apollo (image right)  and later a cross, the first fell down, during gale force winds in 1106, the second was removed as the Turks conquered the city in 1453.

On the base there were different relics and ancient artifacts including:
  • Parts of the crosses of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus Christ at Calvary
  • The baskets from the loaves and fishes miracle
  • An alabaster ointment jar belonging to Mary Magdalene and presumably used by her for the washing of the feet of Jesus
  • The palladium of ancient Rome
  • A wooden statue of Athena from Troy
All gone now. Other decorations have been removed or even looted.

It is wonderful to see such an impressive monument still standing, reminding you that in Sultanahmet you are on historic ground, or you are even threading into history.   

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