Istanbul, 8 October 2018.
(Click on any image to see it in a larger size, if you are on a PC at least.)
It’s an Indian!
All kitted up to travel, but no external gear lever. How can that be? (Indian was the first US motorcycle manufacturer, dating from 1901 until 1953 when they went bankrupt. I hadn’t realised Indians have been in production again since 2014).
(In the first images, we are walking back from the ferry ride in the last post).
Inside a spice shop with some curious teas….
Walking alongside an ancient wall.
The ancient debris beside the road may be stray remains from the Great Palace of Constantinople.
A closer look at some of the curious ancient debris.
Two women walking beside an ancient wall.
Doorway to another place and time?
I presume this is from an entrance arch to a mosque, perhaps Hagia Sophia.
A North African Koran from the 13th century.
(We are now in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts).
A Koran from the Mamaluk period of Egypt, c. 1380.
(Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1517).
An illustrated book from the Timurid Empire 1370-1507.
A Koran from the Safavid period in Shiraz (Persia), 1591-1592.
Kaaba door cover, Ottoman period, 19th century.
Koran, Ottoman period, 1526.
Double wooden doors, Karaman, early 15th century.
Top: Wooden window shutters, Konya, early 14th century.
Bottom: Cenotaph and coffin, Anatolian Seljuk period, 1521.
Illustrated book, prepared by Zubdet’ut Tevarih for Sultan Murad III, 1583.
This is a view from a balcony of the museum, looking past the Obelisk of Theodosius (and the Hippodrome) to the Blue Mosque.
Top of the Blue Mosque.
Remains of some of the terracing around the Hippodrome, now below ground level.
This is what the remains of the Hippodrome looked like in 1600. It was already in ruins by the time the Ottomans invaded in 1453. Constantinople never really recovered from its sack by the Latins of the Fourth Crusade in 1204.
This is what the area looked like in East Roman times. In front of the Hippodrome is the massive Great Palace. This included protected walkways for the Emperor to attend Hagia Sophia (far right) and the Hippodrome.
You can also get a better idea of the shape of the Hippodrome here. It had a U-shape with terraced seating that could accommodate 30,000. There were entrance/ exit lanes at one end and participants could race laps around the long thin spina in the centre. Though the Hippodrome was never built over, its stone was used as material for other buildings.
Near the entrance gate end, looking towards the Obelisk of Theososius and the Walled Obelisk, which lay along the spina.
Originally there were also many other statues of gods, animals and heroes. For example, the Venetians looted four gilded copper statues of horses, which were incorporated in the facade of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The original level for the Hippodrome is two metres underground.
Looking now in the other direction, towards Hagia Sophia.
The chariot races were very popular and the crowd divided into blue and green factions, which could make crowds of English football hooligans look very tame indeed. In 532, the factions united in riots, the Nika riots, that burned much of the city. The main precipitating cause was high taxation due to Justinian’s wars. In the end, Justinian paid off members of the blue faction just as the assembled factions were electing a new Emperor and then sent in General Belisarius with the army, who sealed off the entrances to the Hippodrome and massacred all who remained, said to be around 30,000. The East Romans had a different concept of democracy in those days. The blue and green factions were never as powerful again.
The Obelisk of Theososius and some minarets of the Blue Mosque.
Emperor Theodosius brought this obelisk to Constantinple in 390. He cut it in three and only the top third survives. It was originally at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor from the reign of Thutmose III at around 1490 BC.
In its day, the Hippodrome was alive with excitement, with thousands of spectators watching chariot races, with teams of four hippos thundering around towing their chariots. It was quite dangerous as riders could fall off their chariots and be trampled by the hippos or be dragged behind, tangled in the reigns.
The Hippodrome was about 450 metres long and 130 metres wide. Races were usually for seven laps and of course, all the turns were hairpin turns which must have created its own opportunities for carnage.
Hippos hence Hippodrome. Not hippopotami though, hippos is the Greek word for horse. (Hippopotami are actually water horses though I don’t recommend trying to ride one).
Looking up to the top of the Walled Obelisk.
This is not an Egyptian obelisk, it was built by Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the tenth century. It was originally covered in gilded bronze plaques but these were looted by Latin troops of the Fourth Crusade.
The Serpent Column in the front and the Obelisk of Theodosius in the rear.
We are near the U-shape at the end of the Hippodrome, looking back along the line of the spina, and the minarets in the distance are from Hagia Sophia. The Serpent Column marks one of the two turning points at each end of the spina. Its base (not shown) is at the original ground level of the Hippodrome.
The Serpent Column was originally erected in Delphi in 478BC to commemorate the victory of an alliance of Greek city-states against Persia at Plataea. This was the final land victory and the Persians never invaded the Greek mainland again.
Constantine brought it to the Hippodrome. It had three snake heads radiating out from the top. Originally there was a golden tripod and a golden cauldron surmounting it but they were removed to fund a war about a hundred years after it was erected in Delphi. It survived with the snake heads until about 1700, when it was thrown down and the heads broken off. Part of one of them survives in the Istanbul Archæological museum.
A family sitting on a low fence, with Hagia Sopha in the background.