25 October 2009

Moving On

I was wrong. The Blue mosque was designed by a student of Sinan. Read more about this history of this place via Wikipedia. There are also better photos there than I snatched.

Sure enough, upon leaving the mosque and putting my shows back on, my self appointed tour guide was there, waiting for me. Talk about determination. He wanted me, of course, to see his stuff. I said I needed to return to the courtyard to take a few pictures which I did, but like the wise men from the east, I left by a different route.

This put me on a plaza to the north of the mosque, which is what is left of the Circus Maximus, or Hippodrome, that was the main stadium of old Constantinople. Nothing of the stadium itself is left, but there are two objects still in place - columns - that were once along the 'spina' or spine that formed the divider of the race track around which chariots sped.

This is one of them. Like most Roman obelisks, it is actually Egyptian, purloined from there to stand as a trophy here, testimony to the power of the emperor and the empire to do as it wishes. Old Roma has several such stolen obelisks, including one standing in the center of the Vatican courtyard. It was in Rome long before the Vatican was built, but the pope as the de facto monarch of medieval Rome appropriated one to make his Kilroy mark on the city as well.

I believe there is a spot, the piazza quatre fontane, where one can look down each of the four streets and see in the distance an obelisk in a distant square or piazza. But the point of these monuments was, as I said, to demonstrate the power of the emperor.

So, to make it clear who put it up, Theodosius, an early successor to Constantine, created a new base that is carved with Latin (which was still the official language) and and Greek, and illustrated with bas reliefs of the emperor at the circus doing mighty things. Again, article about it on Wikipedia is fuller and had better pictures.

Today, the circus is a narrow park that is surrounded by roads. Another column, the walled column, is younger by centuries but of less sturdy stone because it once was clad i n bronze and another shorter bronze column, called the serpent column also still stands in broken splendor. All three actually sit about 2 meters below grade, as the city has been built and rebuilt several times, always on the rubble of the previous structure. Families are everywhere in the little park, which is dotted with palms. The sun is bright and I decide to move on.

The goal? The Museum of Islamic Art which sits in this Ottoman palace which is along the north side of the Hippodrome, a pasha's palace in fact, Ibrahim Pasha to be specific, who was the prime minister/vizier to Suleiman the Magnificent. Note the hanging bay windows that are all but required of buildings here. But the palace is far larger than you see here. It contains a large collection I will describe another time.
But for now let me show you the best sight of all. From the covered porch and cafe of the Museum of the Blue Mosque across the way.

1 comment:

Robin Edgar said...

Congratulations on saying the three words that Unitarian*Universalists in general, and U*U clergy in particular. . . seem to be pathologically averse to saying Fred. Of course there are some exceptions, as your blog post here proves, but I am still waiting for a good number of Unitarian*Universalists, including no shortage of U*U clergy to say -

"I was wrong."

about a variety of important matters.