In light of the recent post on the Column of Constantine, I thought it would be nice to supplement with some renderings of what the column has looked like in the past, including the original base, its placement in situ in the Forum of Constantine, and how the column has changed over the years.
Many of these rock-hewn churches and their very early frescoes are beautifully preserved, and while not technically Byzantine, are similar in many ways and certainly worth looking at. In many respects they remind me of the rock-cut churches and frescoes of central Turkey, especially Cappadocia. The latter frescoes are, honestly, not well-preserved at all, and in many cases vandalized quite a bit, so it’s nice to see some in great condition.
Other of the smaller, non-rock-cut churches are reminiscent of the later small churches and monastery chapels from the late medieval period in the Troodos region of central Cyprus. Take a look at the Debre Berhan Selassie Church in Quartz’s photos and see if you don’t similarities yourself.
Probably my favorite thing about Istanbul is the historic surroundings. You can’t swing a street cat without hitting something several centuries old (not that you would). My fascination with all things Byzantine is well-fed in Istanbul, which, having been the center of the Roman/Eastern Roman/Greek/Byzantine Empire for more than a millenium, has more than its fair share of Byzantine wonders.
In this series of posts, I will catalog and explain these sights. It is my goal to find the remnants of Byzantine Constantinople in Turkish Istanbul. There is much left to find, but not all of it is out in the open.
Today, I will write about one of the oldest Byzantine sites in the city, the Column of Constantine. In fact, it would be hardly proper to call anything about the empire “Byzantine” when this column was built in 330. Its purpose was the commemoration of the founding of Nova Roma, the new Rome, and its elevation to the new capital of the Roman Empire, not yet split into eastern and western parts and still thoroughly Roman in character. Still, the raising of this column marked a new era in the Roman Empire with the shifting of power to the East, and as such is very significant to the Byzantinist.