Istanbul {part 2 of 4}

Sultan Ahmed Square ~ Sultanahmet Meydanı

The Basilica Cistern by Kicking Back the Pebbles

Just 500 feet (150 m.) southwest of the Hagia Sophia lies The Basilica Cistern (in Turkish: Yerebatan Sarayı meaning “Sunken Palace” or Yerebatan Sarnıcı“Sunken Cistern”). It is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul and it was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.


H Βασιλική Κινστέρνα, γνωστή ως Γερεμπατάν Σαράι (τουρκ. βυθισμένο παλάτι) ή Γερεμπατάν Σαρνιτζί (τουρκ. βυθισμένη δεξαμενή) είναι η μεγαλύτερη υπόγεια δεξαμενή νερού στην Κωνσταντινούπολη, χωρητικότητας 80.000 m3. Βρίσκεται στον πρώτο λόφο της πόλης, περίπου 150 μέτρα νοτιοδυτικά της Αγίας Σοφίας, στην περιοχή Σουλτάναχμετ επί του ιστορικού κέντρου.

The Basilica Cistern by Kicking Back the Pebbles The Basilica Cistern by Kicking Back the Pebbles The Basilica Cistern by Kicking Back the Pebbles

This cathedral-size cistern is an underground chamber of about 105,000 sq ft (9,800  m²) – capable of holding 80,000 m³ (2,800,000 cu ft) of water. The ceiling is supported by a forest of 336 marble columns, each 30 feet (9 m.) high, arranged in 12 rows of 28 columns each spaced 16 ft (4.9 m.) apart. The majority of the columns in the cistern appear to have been recycled from the ruins of older buildings (a process called spoliation), likely brought to Istanbul from various parts of the empire, together with those that were used in the construction of the Hagia Sophia.


Η κινστέρνα είχε αρχικά 336 μαρμάρινους κίονες ύψους 9 μέτρων, τοποθετημένους σε 12 σειρές με 28 κίονες η καθεμία, σε απόσταση 5 περίπου μέτρων η μία από την άλλη. Ωστόσο 60 από αυτούς, στη νοτιοδυτική πλευρά, εντοιχίστηκαν και δεν είναι πλέον ορατοί. Στους κίονες εδράζονται σταυροθόλια φτιαγμένα από οπτοπλίνθους. Αυτό το είδος ελαφριάς θολοδομίας εντοπίζεται και σε άλλα δημόσια κτίρια και εκκλησίες, όπως στους τρούλους και τα ημιθόλια της Αγίας Σοφίας.

Μεγάλο μέρος της δεξαμενής είναι κατασκευασμένο από ερείπια παλαιότερων κτηρίων, πιθανότατα γιατί επρόκειτο για υπόγειο, μη ορατό κτίσμα. Ωστόσο πολλά από τα στοιχεία του αρχιτεκτονικού διάκοσμου είναι αξιοσημείωτα! Δύο κίονες, που στηρίζονται σε αρχαίες ελληνικές βάσεις και βρίσκονται στη βορειοδυτική πλευρά της κινστέρνας, υποβαστάζονται από ογκόλιθους, στους οποίους έχουν σκαλιστεί δύο ογκώδη γοργόνεια με ανάγλυφες κεφαλές Μέδουσας, ένα από αυτά τοποθετημένο ανάποδα και το άλλο στο πλάι (για να “εξορκίσουν” όπως εικάζεται το θανατηφόρο βλέμμα της Μέδουσας που πέτρωνε όσους την αντίκριζαν!). Οι κίονες ίσως προέρχονται από κάποιο νυμφαίο και οι δύο κεφαλές τοποθετήθηκαν πιθανώς από τον Ιουστινιανό


Located in the northwestern corner of the cistern, the bases of two columns reuse blocks carved with the visage of Medusa. The origin of the two heads is unknown, though it is thought that they were brought to the cistern after being removed from a building of the late Roman period. There is no written evidence that suggests they were used as column pedestals previously. Tradition has it that the blocks are oriented sideways & inverted in order to negate the power of Medusa’s deadly gaze.

The Basilica Cistern_Medusa heads

The Cistern is full of carp and gold fish!! Fish were also used in ancient times to help make sure the water reserve would not be poisoned by potential enemies planning to attack the city!


Τα ψάρια χρησιμοποιούνταν ως μέτρο πρόληψης από πιθανή δηλητηρίαση των υδάτινων πόρων, από τους εχθρούς της Πόλης!

The Basilica Cistern_interior

Source: Wikipedia

Now, both the Basilica Cistern and the Hagia Sophia lie in the same site, Sultan Ahmet Square (in Turkish: Sultanahmet Meydanı). It was The Hippodrome of Constantinople, a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Istanbul.  The word hippodrome comes from the Greek hippos (ἵππος), horse, and dromos (δρόμος), path or way. For this reason, it is sometimes also called Atmeydanı (“Horse Square”) in Turkish. Horse racing and chariot racing were popular pastimes in the ancient world and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras.


Ολόκληρη αυτή η περιοχή είναι ο Ιππόδρομος της Κωνσταντινούπολης, χώρος δημόσιας ψυχαγωγίας που προοριζόταν για ιπποδρομίες & αρματοδρομίες, αποκτώντας παράλληλα θεσμικές και πολιτικές διαστάσεις. Είναι η γνωστή σήμερα Πλατεία Σουλτάν Αχμέτ (στα Τουρκικά Sultanahmet Meydanı ή Atmeydanı) στην οποία διασώζονται μόνο θραύσματα του αρχικού συγκροτήματος του ιπποδρόμου. Δύο από αυτά, ο Οβελίσκος του Θεοδόσιου Α’ και ένας ακόμα οβελίσκος από συναρμοσμένους λίθους που αποδίδεται στον Κωνσταντίνο Ζ’ τον Πορφυρογέννητο, οι οποίοι σώζονται και διατηρούνται στο κέντρο του σύγχρονου δημόσιου χώρου.


A few fragments of the original structure have survived to this day, two of which are the following:

The Obelisk of Thutmose III (aka Obelisk of Theodosius)

An emperor to adorn the Hippodrome was Theodosius the Great, who in 390 brought an obelisk from Egypt and erected it inside the racing track. Carved from pink granite, it was originally erected at the Temple of Karnak in the city of Luxor during the reign of Thutmose III in about 1490 BC. Theodosius had the obelisk cut into three pieces and brought to Istanbul. The top section has survived nearly 3,500 years in an astonishingly good condition, and it stands today where Theodosius placed it, on a marble pedestal.

The Hippodrome of Constantinople_The Obelisk of Thutmose III The Hippodrome of Constantinople_The Obelisk of Thutmose III

The Walled Obelisk

In the 10th century, the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus built an obelisk (it lies right across the Obelisk of Thutmose III, at the other end of the Hippodrome) that was originally covered with gilded bronze plaques. These were looted by Latin troops during the Fourth Crusade. The stone core of the monument survives and it is known as the Walled Obelisk.

The Hippodrome of Constantinople_The Walled Obelisk

Nearby there was a seasonal Ramadan Bazaar (a small open market) featuring many art shops and some traditional delicacies —we visited just one day before Ramadan began, so it was not overwhelmingly crowded.


Παράλληλα στους δύο οβελίσκους (νοητά κατά μήκος της αρένας δηλαδή) στήνεται αυτή την εποχή, για την περίοδο του Ραμαζανιού, μια μικρή υπαίθρια αγορά!

Sultan Ahmet Square_Ramadan Bazaar Sultan Ahmet Square_Ramadan Bazaar Sultan Ahmet Square_Ramadan Bazaar

The German Fountain (in Turkish: Alman Çeşmesi & in German: Deutscher Brunnen) is a gazebo styled fountain in the northern end of the hippodrome (Sultanahmet Square), across from the Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed I. It was constructed to commemorate the second anniversary of German Emperor Wilhelm II‘s visit to Istanbul in 1898. It was built in Germany, then transported piece by piece and assembled in its current site in 1900.


Στη βόρεια είσοδο του ιπποδρόμου είναι κτισμένο το λεγόμενο Γερμανικό Συντριβάνι, με στοιχεία νεοβυζαντινής αρχιτεκτονικής, που υπήρξε έργο της γερμανικής κυβέρνησης για τον εορτασμό της επίσκεψης του αυτοκράτορα Βίλχελμ Β’ στην πόλη.

Sultan Ahmet Square_The German FountainSultan Ahmet Square_The German Fountain

Stay tuned next week for my final stop on Sultan Ahmet SquareThe Blue Mosque!


Η επόμενη στάση μας θα είναι το Μπλε Τζαμί! Μέχρι τότε ;)

Sultan Ahmet Square_Blue Mosque Minaret

*images by Athina D. Pantazatou for Kicking Back the Pebbles

Istanbul {part 1 of 4}

Αγία Σοφία ~ Κωνσταντινούπολη

Δεν χρειάζονται συστάσεις! Εάν θέλετε να εντρυφήσετε σε ιστορικές λεπτομέρειες υπάρχουν τόνοι βιβλιογραφίας, εγώ ένα έχω μόνο να σας πω: ο ξεναγός μου, Τούρκος αρχιτέκτονας με πολλά ταξίδια στο ενεργητικό του σε απίστευτους αρχαιολογικούς χώρους (όπως στην Παλαιά Οχυρωμένη Πόλη του Σιμπάμ στην Υεμένη, στην αρχαία Καρχηδόνα & στη Μεδίνα της Σους στην Τυνησία, στο αρχαιολογικό πάρκο της Μερβ στο Τουρκμενιστάν, στην αρχαία πόλη Χαττούσα & στην Τροία στην Τουρκία,  στην αρχαία πόλη της Δαμασκού & στον αρχαιολογικό χώρο της Παλμύρα στη Συρία,  στους αρχαιολογικούς χώρους της επαρχίας Ναπατάν στο Σουδάν, στην Ιστορική Τζέντα στη Σαουδική Αραβία αλλά και σε πολλά άλλα μνημεία σε Ευρώπη και Ρωσία), επέμενε πως η Αγία Σοφία είναι το αγαπημένο του μέρος σε ολόκληρο τον κόσμο!!


There are tons of bibliography on Hagia Sophia {in Greek: Aγία Σοφία meaning Holy Wisdom/in Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia/in Turkish: Ayasofya} to go through, in case you’re interested, but you can start from the basic Wikipedia trivia here. It’s a magical place to be in and I’ve been dreaming of visiting it for years! 

Aya Sofya by Kicking Back the Pebbles Aya Sofya_exterior Aya Sofya_exterior Aya Sofya_exterior

The dome of Hagia Sophia has spurred particular interest for many art historians, architects and engineers because of the innovative way the original architects envisioned it. The cupola is carried on four spherical triangular pendentives, an element which was first fully realized in this building. The pendentives implement the transition from the circular base of the dome to the rectangular base below, restraining the lateral forces of the dome and allowing its weight to flow downwards. They were reinforced with buttresses during Byzantine and later during Ottoman times, under the guidance of the architect Mimar Sinan. The weight of the dome remained a problem for most of the building’s existence. The original cupola collapsed entirely after the quake of 558; in 563 a new dome was built by Isidore the Younger, a nephew of Isidore of Miletus. (A larger section of the second dome later collapsed again).

Although its design stabilizes the dome and the surrounding walls and arches, the actual construction of the walls of Hagia Sophia weakened the overall structure. The bricklayers used more mortar than brick, weakening the walls. The structure would have been more stable if the builders at least let the mortar cure before they began the next layer; however, they did not! When the dome was erected, its weight caused the walls to lean outward because of the wet mortar underneath. When Isidore the Younger rebuilt the fallen cupola, he had to first build up the interior of the walls to make them vertical again. Additionally, the architect raised the height of the rebuilt dome by approximately six metres so that the lateral forces would not be as strong and its weight would flow more easily down into the walls. Moreover, he shaped the new cupola like a scalloped shell or the inside of an umbrella, with ribs that extend from the top down to the base. These ribs allow the weight of the dome to flow between the windows, down the pendentives, and ultimately to the foundation.

Hagia Sophia is famous for the light that reflects everywhere in the interior of the nave, giving the dome the appearance of floating or hovering above the ground. This effect was achieved by inserting forty windows around the base of the original structure.

Source: Wikipedia

Aya Sofya_the Dome Aya Sofya_the DomeAya Sofya_the Dome

Basil II commissioned giant six-winged Cherubs to be painted, one on each of the four pendentives of the main dome. When the church was converted into a Mosque their faces were covered with golden halos (read about Aniconism in Islam here), but in 2009 one of them was restored to its original state.


Τέσσερα εξαπτέρυγα Χερουβείμ κοσμούν τα λοφία του τρούλου από την εποχή του Βασιλείου του Βουλγαροκτόνου. Όταν η Αγία Σοφία μετατράπηκε σε τζαμί τα πρόσωπα τους καλύφθηκαν καθώς η απεικόνιση “έμβιων” όντων δεν επιτρέπεται στα Μουσουλμανικά τεμένη. Κατά τη διάρκεια εργασιών αποκατάστασης όμως, το 2009, αποφασίστηκε να αποκαλυφθεί το πρόσωπο ενός εξ’ αυτών.

Aya Sofya_the DomeAya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior Aya Sofya_interior

The Mihrab is located in the apse where the altar used to stand, and is slightly off-centered to point towards Mecca. It’s the only interior Mihrab of its kind –not centered that is– since the temple was not originally designed as a Mosque and a Mihrab’s position (well, a Mihrab altogether!) had not been planned for.


Το Μιχράμπ (η ημικυκλική εσοχή που υπάρχει στο τείχος ενός ισλαμικού τεμένους και υποδεικνύει την κίμπλα, δηλαδή την κατεύθυνση προς την Κάαμπα στη Μέκκα στην οποία στρέφονται οι Μουσουλμάνοι κατά την διάρκεια της προσευχής) δημιουργήθηκε στη θέση του Ιερού μετά την άλωση και γι’ αυτό δεν βρίσκεται, όπως θα έπρεπε, ακριβώς στο κέντρο του τείχους –που θεωρούνταν Τείχος της Κίμπλα– αλλά ελαφρώς στραμμένο Ανατολικά για να δείχνει σωστά την κατεύθυνση προς τη Μέκκα!

Aya Sofya_mihrab

Aya Sofya_mihrab & minbar

The Mihrab & the Minbar (a pulpit in the mosque where the Imam stands to deliver sermons) of the Hagia Sophia.

Aya Sofya_mihrab & minbar

Το μιχράμπ & το μινμπέρ, δηλαδή ο άμβωνας, όπου στέκεται ο ιμάμης κατά τη διάρκεια της μεσημεριανής προσευχής της Παρασκευής ή των ιερών ημερών.

Aya Sofya_interiorAya Sofya_interior

The Mosaics

The Southwestern Entrance Mosaic

The southwestern entrance mosaic, situated in the tympanum of the southwestern entrance, dates from the reign of Basil II. It was rediscovered during restorations in 1849. Virgin Mary sits on a throne without a back, her feet resting on a pedestal, embellished with precious stones. The Child Christ sits on her lap, giving His blessing and holding a scroll in His left hand. On her left side stands emperor Constantine in ceremonial attire, presenting a model of the city to Mary. The inscription next to him says: “Great emperor Constantine of the Saints”. On her right side stands emperor Justinian I, offering a model of the Hagia Sophia. The medallions on both sides of the Virgin’s head carry the monograms MP and ΘY, an abbreviation of “Mētēr” and “Theou“, meaning “Mother of God”.

Aya Sofya_mosaic

The Deësis Mosaic

The Deësis mosaic (Δέησις, “Entreaty”) probably dates from 1261. It was commissioned to mark the end of 57 years of Roman Catholic use and the return to the Orthodox faith. It is the third panel situated in the imperial enclosure of the upper galleries. It is widely considered the finest in Hagia Sophia, because of the softness of the features, the humane expressions and the tones of the mosaic. The style is close to that of the Italian painters of the late 13th or early 14th century, such as Duccio. In this panel the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, both shown in three-quarters profile, are imploring the intercession of Christ for humanity on Judgment Day.

Aya Sofya_mosaic

The Comnenus Mosaic

The Comnenus mosaic, also located on the eastern wall of the southern gallery dates back to 1122. Virgin Mary is standing in the middle, depicted in a dark blue gown. She holds Child Christ on her lap. He gives His blessing with His right hand while holding a scroll in His left hand. On her right side stands emperor John II Comnenus, in a garb embellished with precious stones. He holds a purse, symbol of an imperial donation to the church. Empress Irene stands on the left side of the Virgin, wearing ceremonial garments and offering a document. One can see a difference between this and the Empress Zoe mosaic that is one century older (see right below). There is a more realistic expression in the portraits instead of an idealized representation. The empress is shown with plaited blond hair, rosy cheeks and grey eyes, revealing her Hungarian descent. The emperor is depicted in a dignified manner.

Aya Sofya_mosaic

The Empress Zoe Mosaic

The Empress Zoe mosaic on the eastern wall of the southern gallery dates back to the 11th century. Christ, clad in a dark blue robe (as is the custom in Byzantine art), is seated in the middle against a golden background, giving His blessing with the right hand and holding the Bible in His left. On either side of His head are the monograms IC and XC, meaning Iēsous Khristos. He is flanked by Constantine IX Monomachus and Empress Zoe, both in ceremonial costumes. Constantine is offering a purse, as symbol of the donation he made to the church, while Empress Zoe is holding a scroll, symbol of the donations she made. The inscription over the head of the emperor says: “Constantine, pious emperor in Christ the God, king of the Romans, Monomachus”. The inscription over the head of the empress reads as follows: “Zoë, the very pious Augusta”. Previous heads have been scraped off and replaced by the three present ones. One of the theories is that this mosaic had been made for an earlier emperor and empress, with their heads changed later on into the present ones.

Aya Sofya_mosaic

The Imperial Gate Mosaic

The Imperial Gate mosaic is located in the tympanum above that gate, which was used only by the emperors when entering the church. Based on style analysis, it has been dated back to the late 9th or early 10th century. The emperor with the nimbus/halo could possibly represent emperor Leo VI the Wise or his son Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus bowing down before Christ who is  seated on a jeweled throne, giving His blessing and holding an open book in His left hand. The text on the book reads as follows: “Peace be with you. I am the light of the world”. (John 20:19; 20:26; 8:12) On each side of Christ’s shoulders is a circular medallion: on His left, Archangel Gabriel holding a staff, on His right His Mother Mary.

Aya Sofya_mosaic

Source: Wikipedia

Ο χρόνος, το κλίμα και οι σεισμοί έχουν σημαδέψει την Αγία Σοφία μέσα στους αιώνες και τις τελευταίες δεκαετίες είναι ασταμάτητες οι εργασίες αποκατάστασης του ναού, τόσο στους εξωτερικούς όσο και στους εσωτερικούς χώρους (σε πολλές από τις φωτογραφίες μου είναι εμφανείς οι σκαλωσιές). Ωστόσο γίνονται προσπάθειες να ολοκληρωθούν φέτος το καλοκαίρι καθώς ο ναός θα χρησιμοποιηθεί στα γυρίσματα νέας ταινίας βασισμένης στα περίφημα πλέον βιβλία του Dan Brown και ο… καθηγήτης Robert Langdon βιάζεται να σεργιανίσει στα μωσαϊκά της ανεμπόδιστος!!


Time, weather and earthquakes have taken their toll on Hagia Sophia through the years, so restoration works have been constantly conducted in the past decade(s) —something that is painfully obvious in lots of my images even though I did my best to avoid scaffoldings and random wires! Nowadays there’s a commitment to complete all restoration processes by this coming fall because… Hollywood is calling: the site will be used in the new Dan Brown movie and Robert Langdon (aka Tom Hanks) will supposedly be running all over the place!!

*images by Athina D. Pantazatou for Kicking Back the Pebbles

Lazy Fridays!

As we’re drawing into a difficult weekend for Greece, I’m keeping my fingers crossed (even though uncertain of which path would be a correct course for my country) and I salute you from Istanbul. This has been an amazing trip and a breathtaking experience altogether. I will have lots to post about in weeks to come and I’ll attempt to take you through all the incredible places I visited! In the meantime you can follow KBtP to get a glimpse of all the things my eyes have been feasting on these past days!


Χαιρετισμούς από την Κωνσταντινούπολη!! Έχω πολλές ιστορίες να σας διηγηθώ και μπόλικο φωτογραφικό υλικό να μοιραστώ μαζί σας, τις επόμενες εβδομάδες.

Have a nice weekend!Καλό Σαββατοκύριακο!

Kicking Back the Pebbles in Istanbul

 

¡Oh Me Oh My! {issue 26}

In this issue of ¡Oh Me Oh My! you can →

Feast you eyes on:

  • a statement, orange staircase in an altogether amazing house in Lima, Peru designed by architect Martin Dulanto
  • an award winning villa in a Swedish forest
  • a Belgian ‘fermette’, a farmhouse imitation from the seventies, in Destelbergen

Then find out ways to:

  • decorate on a budget
  • get inspiration from powder rooms & a renovated builder grade kitchen

And last but not least discover:

  • some functional & cool ways to DIY outside storage along with some natural ways to kill weeds!

Σε αυτό το τεύχος του ¡Oh Me Oh My! δείτε εκπληκτικά σπίτια στο Περού, το Βέλγιο & τη Σουηδία, εμπνευστείτε από ξεχωριστούς ανακαινισμένους χώρους, μάθετε πως να φτιάξετε πρακτικά αποθηκευτικά μέσα για τον κήπο, την αυλή ή τη βεράντα και ανακαλύψτε τον πιο φυσικό τρόπο για να ξεφορτωθείτε τα ζιζάνια!

*You can either click on the magazine cover below or on the magazine’s link further down the page
*Για να ξεφυλλίσετε το νέο τεύχος του ¡Oh Me Oh My! μπορείτε να κάνετε κλικ στο εξώφυλλο του περιοδικού ή στο σύνδεσμο που ακολουθεί ακριβώς από κάτω!

Flipboard Magazine by Kicking Back the Pebbles

http://flip.it/oL3ht

Happy reading Flipping!! Καλή Ανάγνωση!