1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Constantinople
CONSTANTINOPLE, the capital of the Turkish empire, situated in 41° 0′ 16″ N. and 28° 58′ 14″ E. The city stands at the southern extremity of the Bosporus, upon a hilly promontory that runs out from the European or western side of the straits towards the opposite Asiatic bank, as though to stem the rush of waters from the Black Sea into the Sea of Marmora. Thus the promontory has the latter sea on the south, and the bay of the Bosporus, forming the magnificent harbour known as the Golden Horn, some 4 m. long, on the north. Two streams, the Cydaris and Barbysus of ancient days, the Ali-Bey-Su and Kiahat-Hané-Su of modern times, enter the bay at its north-western end. A small winter stream, named the Lycus, that flows through the promontory from west to south-east into the Sea of Marmora, breaks the hilly ground into two great masses,—a long ridge, divided by cross-valleys into six eminences, overhanging the Golden Horn, and a large isolated hill constituting the south-western portion of the territory. Hence the claim of Constantinople to be enthroned, like Rome, upon seven hills. The 1st hill is distinguished by the Seraglio, St Sophia and the Hippodrome; the 2nd by the column of Constantine and the mosque Nuri-Osmanieh; the 3rd by the war office, the Seraskereate Tower and the mosque of Sultan Suleiman; the 4th by the mosque of Sultan Mahommed II., the Conqueror; the 5th by the mosque of Sultan Selim; the 6th by Tekfour Serai and the quarter of Egri Kapu; the 7th by Avret Tash and the quarter of Psamatia. In Byzantine times the two last hills were named respectively the hill of Blachernae and the Xerolophos or dry hill.
History, Architecture and Antiquities.—Constantinople is famous in history, first as the capital of the Roman empire in the East for more than eleven centuries (330–1453), and secondly as the capital of the Ottoman empire since 1453. In respect of influence over the course of human affairs, its only rivals are Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. Yet even the gifts of these rivals to the cause of civilization often bear the image and superscription of Constantinople upon them. Roman law, Greek literature, the theology of the Christian church, for example, are intimately associated with the history of the city beside the Bosporus.
The city was founded by Constantine the Great, through the enlargement of the old town of Byzantium, in A.D. 328, and was inaugurated as a new seat of government on the 11th of May, A.D. 330. To indicate its political dignity, it was named New Rome, while to perpetuate the fame of its founder it was styled Constantinople. The chief patriarch of the Greek church still signs himself “archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome.” The old name of the place, Byzantium, however, continued in use.
The creation of a new capital by Constantine was not an act of personal caprice or individual judgment. It was the result of causes long in operation, and had been foreshadowed, forty years before, in the policy of Diocletian. After the senate and people of Rome had ceased to be the sovereigns of the Roman world, and their authority had been vested in the sole person of the emperor, the eternal city could no longer claim to be the rightful throne of the state. That honour could henceforth be conferred upon any place in the Roman world which might suit the convenience of the emperor, or serve more efficiently the interests he had to guard. Furthermore, the empire was now upon its defence. Dreams of conquests and extension had long been abandoned, and the pressing question of the time was how to repel the persistent assaults of Persia and the barbarians upon the frontiers of the realm, and so retain the dominion inherited from the valour of the past. The size of the empire made it difficult, if not impossible, to attend to these assaults, or to control the ambition of successful generals, from one centre. Then the East had grown in political importance, both as the scene of the most active life in the state and as the portion of the empire most exposed to attack. Hence the famous scheme of Diocletian to divide the burden of government between four colleagues, in order to secure a better administration of civil and of military affairs. It was a scheme, however, that lowered the prestige of Rome, for it involved four distinct seats of government, among which, as the event proved, no place was found for the ancient capital of the Roman world. It also declared the high position of the East, by the selection of Nicomedia in Asia Minor as the residence of Diocletian himself. When Constantine, therefore, established a new seat of government at Byzantium, he adopted a policy inaugurated before his day as essential to the preservation of the Roman dominion. He can claim originality only in his choice of the particular point at which that seat was placed, and in his recognition of the fact that his alliance with the Christian church could be best maintained in a new atmosphere.
But whatever view may be taken of the policy which divided the government of the empire, there can be no dispute as to the widsom displayed in the selection of the site for a new imperial throne. “Of all the events of Constantine’s life,” says Dean Stanley, “this choice is the most convincing and enduring proof of his real genius.” Situated where Europe and Asia are parted by a channel never more than 5 m. across, and sometimes less than half a mile wide, placed at a point commanding the great waterway between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, the position affords immense scope for commercial enterprise and political action in rich and varied regions of the world. The least a city in that situation can claim as its appropriate sphere of influence is the vast domain extending from the Adriatic to the Persian Gulf, and from the Danube to the eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, the site constituted a natural citadel, difficult to approach or to invest, and an almost impregnable refuge in the hour of defeat, within which broken forces might rally to retrieve disaster. To surround it, an enemy required to be strong upon both land and sea. Foes advancing through Asia Minor would have their march arrested, and their blows kept beyond striking distance, by the moat which the waters of the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmora and the Dardanelles combine to form. The narrow straits in which the waterway connecting the Mediterranean with the Black Sea contracts, both to the north and to the south of the city, could be rendered impassable to hostile fleets approaching from either direction, while on the landward side the line of defence was so short that it could be strongly fortified, and held against large numbers by a comparatively small force. Nature, indeed, cannot relieve men of their duty to be wise and brave, but, in the marvellous configuration of land and sea about Constantinople, nature has done her utmost to enable human skill and courage to establish there the splendid and stable throne of a great empire.
Byzantium, out of which Constantinople sprang, was a small, well-fortified town, occupying most of the territory comprised in the two hills nearest the head of the promontory, and in the level ground at their base. The landward wall started from a point near the present Stamboul custom-house, and reached the ridge of the 2nd hill, a little to the east of the point marked by Chemberli Tash (the column of Constantine). There the principal gate of the town opened upon the Egnatian road. From that gate the wall descended towards the Sea of Marmora, touching the water in the neighbourhood of the Seraglio lighthouse. The Acropolis, enclosing venerated temples, crowned the summit of the first hill, where the Seraglio stands. Immediately to the south of the fortress was the principal market-place of the town, surrounded by porticoes on its four sides, and hence named the Tetrastoon. On the southern side of the square stood the baths of Zeuxippus, and beyond them, still farther south, lay the Hippodrome, which Septimius Severus had undertaken to build but failed to complete. Two theatres, on the eastern slope of the Acropolis, faced the bright waters of the Marmora, and a stadium was found on the level tract on the other side of the hill, close to the Golden Horn. The Strategion, devoted to the military exercises of the brave little town, stood close to Sirkedji Iskelessi, and two artificial harbours, the Portus Prosforianus and the Neorion, indented the shore of the Golden Horn, respectively in front of the ground now occupied by the station of the Chemins de Fer Orientaux and the Stamboul custom-house.
A graceful granite column, still erect on the slope above the head of the promontory, commemorated the victory of Claudius Gothicus over the Goths at Nissa, A.D. 269. All this furniture of Byzantium was appropriated for the use of the new capital.
According to Zosimus, the line of the landward walls erected by Constantine to defend New Rome was drawn at a distance of nearly 2 m. (15 stadia) to the west of the limits of the old town. It therefore ran across the promontory from the vicinity of Un Kapan Kapusi (Porta Platea), at the Stamboul head of the Inner Bridge, to the neighbourhood of Daud Pasha Kapusi (Porta S. Aemiliani), on the Marmora, and thus added the 3rd and 4th hills and portions of the 5th and 7th hills to the territory of Byzantium. We have two indications of the course of these walls on the 7th hill. One is found in the name Isa Kapusi (the Gate of Jesus) attached to a mosque, formerly a Christian church, situated above the quarter of Psamatia. It perpetuates the memory of the beautiful gateway which formed the triumphal entrance into the city of Constantine, and which survived the original bounds of the new capital as late as 1508, when it was overthrown by an earthquake. The other indication is the name Alti Mermer (the six columns) given to a quarter in the same neighbourhood. The name is an ignorant translation of Exakionion, the corrupt form of the designation Exokionion, which belonged in Byzantine days to that quarter because marked by a column outside the city limits. Hence the Arians, upon their expulsion from the city by Theodosius I., were allowed to hold their religious services in the Exokionion, seeing that it was an extra-mural district. This explains the fact that Arians are sometimes styled Exokionitae by ecclesiastical historians. The Constantinian line of fortifications, therefore, ran a little to the east of the quarter of Alti Mermer. In addition to the territory enclosed within the limits just described, the suburb of Sycae or Galata, on the opposite side of the Golden Horn, and the suburb of Blachernae, on the 6th hill, were regarded as parts of the city, but stood within their own fortifications. It was to the ramparts of Constantine that the city owed its deliverance when attacked by the Goths, after the terrible defeat of Valens at Adrianople, A.D. 378.
In the opinion of his courtiers, the bounds assigned to New Rome by Constantine seemed, it is said, too wide, but after some eighty years they proved too narrow for the population that had gathered within the city. The barbarians had meantime also grown more formidable, and this made it necessary to have stronger fortifications for the capital. Accordingly, in 413, in the reign of Theodosius II., Anthemius, then praetorian prefect of the East and regent, enlarged and refortified the city by the erection of the wall which forms the innermost line of defence in the bulwarks whose picturesque ruins now stretch from the Sea of Marmora, on the south of Yedi Kuléh (the seven towers), northwards to the old Byzantine palace of the Porphyrogenitus (Tekfour Serai), above the quarter of Egri Kapu. There the new works joined the walls of the suburb of Blachernae, and thus protected the city on the west down to the Golden Horn. Somewhat later, in 439, the walls along the Marmora and the Golden Horn were brought, by the prefect Cyrus, up to the extremities of the new landward walls, and thus invested the capital in complete armour. Then also Constantinople attained its final size. For any subsequent extension of the city limits was insignificant, and was due to strategic considerations. In 447 the wall of Anthemius was seriously injured by one of those earthquakes to which the city is liable. The disaster was all the more grave, as the Huns under Attila were carrying everything before them in the Balkan lands. The desperateness of the situation, however, roused the government of Theodosius II., who was still upon the throne, to put forth the most energetic efforts to meet the emergency. If we may trust two contemporary inscriptions, one Latin, the other Greek, still found on the gate Yeni Mevlevi Khanéh Kapusi (Porta Rhegium), the capital was again fully armed, and rendered more secure than ever, by the prefect Constantine, in less than two months. Not only was the wall of Anthemius restored, but, at the distance of 20 yds., another wall was built in front of it, and at the same distance from this second wall a broad moat was constructed with a breastwork along its inner edge. Each wall was flanked by ninety-six towers. According to some authorities, the moat was flooded during a siege by opening the aqueducts, which crossed the moat at intervals and conveyed water into the city in time of peace. This opinion is extremely doubtful. But in any case, here was a barricade 190-207 ft. thick, and 100 ft. high, with its several parts rising tier above tier to permit concerted action, and alive with large bodies of troops ready to pour, from every coign of vantage, missiles of death—arrows, stones, Greek fire—upon a foe. It is not strange that these fortifications defied the assaults of barbarism upon the civilized life of the world for more than a thousand years. As might be expected, the walls demanded frequent restoration from time to time in the course of their long history. Inscriptions upon them record repairs, for example, under Justin II., Leo the Isaurian, Basil II., John Palaeologus, and others. Still, the ramparts extending now from the Marmora to Tekfour Serai are to all intents and purposes the ruins of the Theodosian walls of the 5th century.
This is not the case in regard to the other parts of the fortifications of the city. The walls along the Marmora and the Golden Horn represent the great restoration of the seaward defences of the capital carried out by the emperor Theophilus in the 9th century; while the walls between Tekfour Serai and the Golden Horn were built long after the reign of Theodosius II., superseding the defences of that quarter of the city in his day, and relegating them, as traces of their course to the rear of the later works indicate, to the secondary office of protecting the palace of Blachernae. In 627 Heraclius built the wall along the west of the quarter of Aivan Serai, in order to bring the level tract at the foot of the 6th hill within the city bounds, and shield the church of Blachernae, which had been exposed to great danger during the siege of the city by the Avars in that year. In 813 Leo V. the Armenian built the wall which stands in front of the wall of Heraclius to strengthen that point in view of an expected attack by the Bulgarians.
The splendid wall, flanked by nine towers, that descends from the court of Tekfour Serai to the level tract below Egri Kapu, was built by Manuel Comnenus (1143–1180) for the greater security of the part of the city in which stood the palace of Blachernae, then the favourite imperial residence. Lastly, the portion of the fortifications between the wall of Manuel and the wall of Heraclius presents too many problems to be discussed here. Enough to say, that in it we find work belonging to the times of the Comneni, Isaac Angelus and the Palaeologi.
If we leave out of account the attacks upon the city in the course of the civil wars between rival parties in the empire, the fortifications, of Constantinople were assailed by the Avars in 627; by the Saracens in 673–677, and again in 718; by the Bulgarians in 813 and 913; by the forces of the Fourth Crusade in 1203–1204; by the Turks in 1422 and 1453. The city was taken in 1204, and became the seat of a Latin empire until 1261, when it was recovered by the Greeks. On the 29th of May 1453 Constantinople ceased to be the capital of the Roman empire in the East, and became the capital of the Ottoman dominion.
The most noteworthy points in the circuit of the walls of the city are the following. (1) The Golden gate, now included in the Turkish fortress of Yedi Kuléh. It is a triumphal archway, consisting of three arches, erected in honour of the victory of Theodosius I. over Maximus in 388, and subsequently incorporated in the walls of Theodosius II., as the state entrance of the capital. (2) The gate of Selivria, or of the Pegé, through which Alexius Strategopoulos made his way into the city in 1261, and brought the Latin empire of Constantinople to an end. (3) The gate of St Romanus (Top Kapusi), by which, in 1453, Sultan Mahommed entered Constantinople after the fall of the city into Turkish hands. (4) The great breach made in the ramparts crossing the valley of the Lycus, the scene of the severest fighting in the siege of 1453, where the Turks stormed the city, and the last Byzantine emperor met his heroic death. (5) The palace of the Porphyrogenitus, long erroneously identified with the palace of the Hebdomon, which really stood at Makrikeui. It is the finest specimen of Byzantine civil architecture left in the city. (6) The tower of Isaac Angelus and the tower of Anemas, with the chambers in the body of the wall to the north of them. (7) The wall of Leo, against which the troops of the Fourth Crusade came, in IZO3, from their camp on the hill opposite the wall, and delivered their chief attack. (8) The walls protecting the quarter of Phanar, which the army and fleet of the Fourth Crusade under the Venetian doge Henrico Dandolo carried in 1204. (9) Yali Kiosk Kapusi, beside which the southern end of the chain drawn across the mouth of the harbour during a siege was attached. (10) The ruins of the palace of Hormisdas, near Chatladi Kapu, once the residence of Justinian the Great and Theodora. It was known in later times as the palace of the Bucoleon, and was the scene of the assassination of Nicephorus Phocas. (11) The sites of the old harbours between Chatladi Kapu and Daud Pasha Kapusi. (12) The fine marble tower near the junction of the walls along the Marmora with the landward walls.
The interior arrangements of the city were largely determined by the configuration of its site, which falls into three great divisions,—the level ground and slopes looking towards the Sea of Marmora, the range of hills forming the midland portion of the promontory, and the slopes and level ground facing the Golden Horn. In each division a great street ran through the city from east to west, generally lined with arcades on one side, but with arcades on both sides when traversing the finer and busier quarters. The street along the ridge formed the principal thoroughfare, and was named the Mesé (Μέση), because it ran through the middle of the city. On reaching the west of the 3rd hill, it divided into two branches, one leading across the 7th hill to the Golden gate, the other conducting to the church of the Holy Apostles, and the gate of Charisius (Edirnéh Kapusi). The Mesé linked together the great fora of the city,—the Augustaion on the south of St Sophia, the forum of Constantine on the summit of the 2nd hill, the forum of Theodosius I. or of Taurus on the summit of the 3rd hill, the forum of Amastrianon where the mosque of Shah Zadéh is situated, the forum of the Bous at Ak Serai, and the forum of Arcadius or Theodosius II. on the summit of the 7th hill. This was the route followed on the occasion of triumphal processions.
Of the edifices and monuments which adorned the fora, only a slight sketch can be given here. On the north side of the Augustaion rose the church of St Sophia, the most glorious cathedral of Eastern Christendom; opposite, on the southern side of the square, was the Chalcé, the great gate of the imperial palace; on the east was the senate house, with a porch of six noble columns; to the west, across the Mesé, were the law courts. In the area of the square stood the Milion, whence distances from Constantinople were measured, and a lofty column which bore the equestrian statue of Justinian the Great. There also was the statue of the empress Eudoxia, famous in the history of Chrysostom, the pedestal of which is preserved near the church of St Irené. The Augustaion was the heart of the city’s ecclesiastical and political life. The forum of Constantine was a great business centre. Its most remarkable monument was the column of Constantine, built of twelve drums of porphyry and bearing aloft his statue. Shorn of much of its beauty, the column still stands to proclaim the enduring influence of the foundation of the city.
In the forum of Theodosius I. rose a column in his honour, constructed on the model of the hollow columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius at Rome. There also was the Anemodoulion, a beautiful pyramidal structure, surmounted by a vane to indicate the direction of the wind. Close to the forum, if not in it, was the capitol, in which the university of Constantinople was established. The most conspicuous object in the forum of the Bous was the figure of an ox, in bronze, beside which the bodies of criminals were sometimes burnt. Another hollow column, the pedestal of which is now known as Avret Tash, adorned the forum of Arcadius. A column in honour of the emperor Marcian still stands in the valley of the Lycus, below the mosque of Sultan Mahommed the Conqueror. Many beautiful statues, belonging to good periods of Greek and Roman art, decorated the fora, streets and public buildings of the city, but conflagrations and the vandalism of the Latin and Ottoman conquerors of Constantinople have robbed the world of those treasures.
The imperial palace, founded by Constantine and extended by his successors, occupied the territory which lies to the east of St Sophia and the Hippodrome down to the water’s edge. It consisted of a large number of detached buildings, in grounds made beautiful with gardens and trees, and commanding magnificent views over the Sea of Marmora, across to the hills and mountains of the Asiatic coast. The buildings were mainly grouped in three divisions—the Chalcé, the Daphné and the “sacred palace.” Labarte and Paspates have attempted to reconstruct the palace, taking as their guide the descriptions given of it by Byzantine writers. The work of Labarte is specially valuable, but without proper excavations of the site all attempts to restore the plan of the palace with much accuracy lack a solid foundation. With the accession of Alexius Comnenus, the palace of Blachernae, at the north-western corner of the city, became the principal residence of the Byzantine court, and was in consequence extended and embellished. It stood in a more retired position, and was conveniently situated for excursions into the country and hunting expeditions. Of the palaces outside the walls, the most frequented were the palace at the Hebdomon, now Makrikeui, in the early days of the Empire, and the palace of the Pegé, now Balukli, a short distance beyond the gate of Selivria, in later times. For municipal purposes, the city was divided, like Rome, into fourteen Regions.
As the seat of the chief prelate of Eastern Christendom, Constantinople was characterized by a strong theological and ecclesiastical temperament. It was full of churches and monasteries, enriched with the reputed relics of saints, prophets and martyrs, which consecrated it a holy city and attracted pilgrims from every quarter to its shrines. It was the meeting-place of numerous ecclesiastical councils, some of them ecumenical (see below, Constantinople, Councils of). It was likewise distinguished for its numerous charitable institutions. Only some twenty of the old churches of the city are left. Most of them have been converted into mosques, but they are valuable monuments of the art which flourished in New Rome. Among the most interesting are the following. St John of the Studium (Emir-Achor Jamissi) is a basilica of the middle of the 5th century, and the oldest ecclesiastical fabric in the city; it is now, unfortunately, almost a complete ruin. SS. Sergius and Bacchus (Kutchuk Aya Sofia) and St Sophia are erections of Justinian the Great. The former is an example of a dome placed on an octagonal structure, and in its general plan is similar to the contemporary church of S. Vitale at Ravenna. St Sophia (i.e. Ἁγία Σοφία, Holy Wisdom) is the glory of Byzantine art, and one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. St Mary Diaconissa (Kalender Jamissi) is a fine specimen of the work of the closing years of the 6th century. St Irené, founded by Constantine, and repaired by Justinian, is in its present form mainly a restoration by Leo the Isaurian, in the middle of the 8th century. St Mary Panachrantos (Fenari Isa Mesjidi) belongs to the reign of Leo the Wise (886–912). The Myrelaion (Bodrum Jami) dates from the 10th century. The Pantepoptes (Eski Imaret Jamissi), the Pantocrator (Zeirek Kilissè Jamissi), and the body of the church of the Chora (Kahriyeh Jamissi) represent the age of the Comneni. The Pammacaristos (Fetiyeh Jamissi), St Andrew in Krisei (Khoja Mustapha Jamissi), the narthexes and side chapel of the Chora were, at least in their present form, erected in the times of the Palaeologi. It is difficult to assign precise dates to SS. Peter and Mark (Khoda Mustapha Jamissi at Aivan Serai), St Theodosia (Gul Jamissi), St Theodore Tyrone (Kilissé Jamissi). The beautiful façade of the last is later than the other portions of the church, which have been assigned to the 9th or 10th century.
For the thorough study of the church of St Sophia, the reader must consult the works of Fossati, Salzenburg, Lethaby and Swainson, and Antoniadi. The present edifice was built by Justinian the Great, under the direction of Anthemius of Tralles and his nephew Isidorus of Miletus. It was founded in 532 and dedicated on Christmas Day 538. It replaced two earlier churches of that name, the first of which was built by Constantius and burnt down in 404, on the occasion of the exile of Chrysostom, while the second was erected by Theodosius II. in 415, and destroyed by fire in the Nika riot of 532. Naturally the church has undergone repair from time to time. The original dome fell in 558, as the result of an earthquake, and among the improvements introduced in the course of restoration, the dome was raised 25 ft. higher than before. Repairs are recorded under Basil I., Basil II., Andronicus III. and Cantacuzene. Since the Turkish conquest a minaret has been erected at each of the four exterior angles of the building, and the interior has been adapted to the requirements of Moslem worship, mainly by the destruction or concealment of most of the mosaics which adorned the walls. In 1847–1848, during the reign of Abd-ul-Mejid, the building was put into a state of thorough repair by the Italian architect Fossati. Happily the sultan allowed the mosaic figures, then exposed to view, to be covered with matting before being plastered over. They may reappear in the changes which the future will bring.
The exterior appearance of the church is certainly disappointing, but within it is, beyond all question, one of the most beautiful creations of human art. On a large scale, and in magnificent style, it combines the attractive features of a basilica, with all the glory of an edifice crowned by a dome. We have here a stately hall, 235 ft. N. and S., by 250 ft. E. and W., divided by two piers and eight columns on either hand into nave and aisles, with an apse at the eastern end and galleries on the three other sides. Over the central portion of the nave, a square area at the angles of which stand the four piers, and at a height of 179 ft. above the floor, spreads a dome, 107 ft. in diameter, and 46 ft. deep, its base pierced by forty arched windows. From the cornice of the dome stretches eastwards and westwards a semi-dome, which in its turn rests upon three small semi-domes. The nave is thus covered completely by a domical canopy, which, in its ascent, swells larger and larger, mounts higher and higher, as though a miniature heaven rose overhead. For lightness, for grace, for proportion, the effect is unrivalled. The walls of the building are reveted with marbles of various hues and patterns, arranged to form beautiful designs, and traces of the mosaics which joined the marbles in the rich and soft coloration of the whole interior surface of the building appear at many points. There are forty columns on the ground floor and sixty in the galleries, often crowned with beautiful capitals, in which the monograms of the emperor Justinian and the empress Theodora are inscribed. The eight porphyry columns, placed in pairs in the four bays at the corners of the nave, belonged originally to the temple of the sun at Baalbek. They were subsequently carried to Rome by Aurelian, and at length presented to Justinian by a lady named Marcia, to be erected in this church “for the salvation of her soul.” The columns of verde antique on either side of the nave are commonly said to have come from the temple of Diana at Ephesus, but recent authorities regard them as specially cut for use in the church. The inner narthex of the church formed a magnificent vestibule 205 ft. long by 26 ft. wide, reveted with marble slabs and glowing with mosaics.
The citizens of Constantinople found their principal recreation in the chariot-races held in the Hippodrome, now the At Meidan, to the west of the mosque of Sultan Ahmed. So much did the race-course (begun by Severus but completed by Constantine) enter into the life of the people that it has been styled “the axis of the Byzantine world.” It was not only the scene of amusement, but on account of its ample accommodation it was also the arena of much of the political life of the city. The factions, which usually contended there in sport, often gathered there in party strife. There emperors were acclaimed or insulted; there military triumphs were celebrated; there criminals were executed, and there martyrs were burned at the stake. Three monuments remain to mark the line of the Spina, around which the chariots whirled; an Egyptian obelisk of Thothmes III., on a pedestal covered with bas-reliefs representing Theodosius I., the empress Galla, and his sons Arcadius and Honorius, presiding at scenes in the Hippodrome; the triple serpent column, which stood originally at Delphi, to commemorate the victory of Plataea 479 B.C.; a lofty pile of masonry, built in the form of an obelisk, and once covered with plates of gilded bronze. Under the Turkish buildings along the western side of the arena, some arches against which seats for the spectators were built are still visible.
The city was supplied with water mainly from two sources; from the streams immediately to the west, and from the springs and rain impounded in reservoirs in the forest of Belgrade, to the north-west, very much on the system followed by the Turks. The water was conveyed by aqueducts, concealed below the surface, except when crossing a valley. Within the city the water was stored in covered cisterns, or in large open reservoirs. The aqueduct of Justinian, the Crooked aqueduct, in the open country, and the aqueduct of Valens that spans the valley between the 4th and 3rd hills of the city, still carry on their beneficent work, and afford evidence of the attention given to the water-supply of the capital during the Byzantine period. The cistern of Arcadius, to the rear of the mosque of Sultan Selim (having, it has been estimated, a capacity of 6,571,720 cubic ft. of water), the cistern of Aspar, a short distance to the east of the gate of Adrianople, and the cistern of Mokius, on the 7th hill, are specimens of the open reservoirs within the city walls. The cistern of Bin Bir Derek (cistern of Illus) with its 224 columns, each built up with three shafts, and the cistern Yeri Batan Serai (Cisterna Basilica) with its 420 columns show what covered cisterns were, on a grand scale. The latter is still in use.
Byzantine Constantinople was a great commercial centre. To equip it more fully for that purpose, several artificial harbours were constructed along the southern shore of the city, where no natural haven existed to accommodate ships coming up the Sea of Marmora. For the convenience of the imperial court, there was a small harbour in the bend of the shore to the east of Chatladi Kapu, known as the harbour of the Bucoleon. To the west of that gate, on the site of Kadriga Limani (the Port of the Galley), was the harbour of Julian, or, as it was named later, the harbour of Sophia (the empress of Justin II.). Traces of the harbour styled the Kontoscalion are found at Kum Kapu. To the east of Yeni Kapu stood the harbour of Kaisarius or the Heptascalon, while to the west of that gate was the harbour which bore the names of Eleutherius and of Theodosiur I. A harbour named after the Golden gate stood on the shore to the south-west of the triumphal gate of the city.
The Modern City.—As the capital of the Ottoman empire, the aspect of the city changed in many ways. The works of art which adorned New Rome gradually disappeared. The streets, never very wide, became narrower, and the porticoes along their sides were almost everywhere removed. A multitude of churches were destroyed, and most of those which survived were converted into mosques. In race and garb and speech the population grew largely oriental. One striking alteration in the appearance of the city was the conversion of the territory extending from the head of the promontory to within a short distance of St Sophia into a great park, within which the buildings constituting the seraglio of the sultans, like those forming the palace of the Byzantine emperors, were ranged around three courts, distinguished by their respective gates—Bab-i-Humayum, leading into the court of the Janissaries; Orta Kapu, the middle gate, giving access to the court in which the sultan held state receptions; and Bah-i-Saadet, the gate of Felicity, leading to the more private apartments of the palace. From the reign of Abd-ul-Mejid, the seraglio has been practically abandoned, first for the palace of Dolmabagché on the shore near Beshiktash, and now for Yildiz Kiosk, on the heights above that suburb. It is, however, visited annually by the sultan, to do homage to the relics of the prophet which are kept there. The older apartments of the palace, such as the throne-room, the Bagdad Kiosk, and many of the objects in the imperial treasury are of extreme interest to all lovers of oriental art. To visit the seraglio, an imperial iradé is necessary. Another great change in the general aspect of the city has been produced by the erection of stately mosques in the most commanding situations, where dome and minarets and huge rectangular buildings present a combination of mass and slenderness, of rounded lines and soaring pinnacles, which gives to Constantinople an air of unique dignity and grace, and at the same time invests it with the glamour of the oriental world. The most remarkable mosques are the following:—The mosque of Sultan Mahommed the Conqueror, built on the site of the church of the Holy Apostles, in 1459, but rebuilt in 1768 owing to injuries due to an earthquake; the mosques of Sultan Selim, of the Shah Zadeh, of Sultan Suleiman and of Rustem Pasha—all works of the 16th century, the best period of Turkish architecture; the mosque of Sultan Bayezid II. (1497–1505); the mosque of Sultan Ahmed I. (1610); Yeni-Validé-Jamissi (1615–1665); Nuri-Osmanieh (1748–1755); Laleli-Jamissi (1765). The Turbehs containing the tombs of the sultans and members of their families are often beautiful specimens of Turkish art.
In their architecture, the mosques present a striking instance of the influence of the Byzantine style, especially as it appears in St Sophia. The architects of the mosques have made a skilful use of the semi-dome in the support of the main dome of the building, and in the consequent extension of the arched canopy that spreads over the worshipper. In some cases the main dome rests upon four semi-domes. At the same time, when viewed from the exterior, the main dome rises large, bold and commanding, with nothing of the squat appearance that mars the dome of St Sophia, with nothing of the petty prettiness of the little domes perched on the drums of the later Byzantine churches. The great mosques express the spirit of the days when the Ottoman empire was still mighty and ambitious. Occasionally, as in the case of Laleli Jamissi, where the dome rests upon an octagon inscribed in a square, the influence of SS. Sergius and Bacchus is perceptible.
For all intents and purposes, Constantinople is now the collection of towns and villages situated on both sides of the Golden Horn and along the shores of the Bosporus, including Scutari and Kadikeui. But the principal parts of this great agglomeration are Stamboul (from Gr. εὶς τὴν πόλιν, “into the city”, the name specially applied to the portion of the city upon the promontory, Galata and Pera. Galata has along history, which becomes of general interest after 1265, when it was assigned to the Genoese merchants in the city by Michael Palaeologus, in return for the friendly services of Genoa in the overthrow of the Latin empire of Constantinople. In the course of time, notwithstanding stipulations to the contrary, the town was strongly fortified and proved a troublesome neighbour During the siege of 1453 the inhabitants maintained on the whole a neutral attitude, but on the fall of the capital they surrendered to the Turkish conqueror, who granted them liberal terms. The walls have for the most part been removed. The noble tower, however, which formed the citadel of the colony, still remains, and is a striking feature in the scenery of Constantinople. There are also churches and houses dating from Genoese days. Galata is the chief business centre of the city, the seat of banks, post-offices, steamship offices, &c. Pera is the principal residential quarter of the European communities settled in Constantinople, where the foreign embassies congregate, and the fashionable shops and hotels are found.
Since the middle of the 19th century the city has yielded more and more to western influences, and is fast losing its oriental character. The sultan’s palaces, and the residences of all classes of the community, adopt with more or less success a European style of building. The streets have been widened and named. They are in many instances better paved, and are lighted at night. The houses are numbered. Cabs and tramways have been introduced. Public gardens have been opened. For some distance outside the Galata bridge, both shores of the Golden Horn have been provided with a quay at which large steamers can moor to discharge or embark their passengers and cargo. The Galata quay, completed in 1889, is 756 metres long and 20 metres wide; the Stamboul quay, completed in 1900, is 378 metres in length. The harbour, quays and facilities for handling merchandise, which have been established at the head of the Anatolian railway, at Haidar Pasha, under German auspices, would be a credit to any city. It is true that most of these improvements are due to foreign enterprise and serve largely foreign interests; still they have also benefited the city, and added much to the convenience and comfort of local life. There has been likewise progress in other than material respects. The growth of the imperial museum of antiquities, under the direction of Hamdy Bey, within the grounds of the Seraglio, has been remarkable; and while the collection of the sarcophagi discovered at Sidon constitutes the chief treasure of the museum, the institution has become a rich storehouse of many other valuable relics of the past. The existence of a school of art, where painting and architecture are taught, is also a sign of new times. A school of handicrafts flourishes on the Sphendoné of the Hippodrome. The fine medical school between Scutari and Haidar Pasha, the Hamidieh hospital for children, and the asylum for the poor, tell of the advance of science and humanity in the place.
Considerable attention is now given to the subject of education throughout the empire, a result due in great measure to the influence of the American and French schools and colleges established in the provinces and at the capital. More than thirty foreign educational institutions flourish in Constantinople itself, and they are largely attended by the youth belonging to the native communities of the country. The Greek population is provided with excellent schools and gymnasia, and the Armenians also maintain schools of a high grade. The Turkish government itself became, moreover, impressed with the importance of education, and as a consequence the whole system of public instruction for the Moslem portion of the population was, during the reign of Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II., more widely extended and improved. Beside the schools of the old type attached to the mosques, schools of a better class were established under the direct control of the minister of education, which, although open to improvement, certainly aimed at a higher standard than that reached in former days. The progress of education became noticeable even among Moslem girls. The social and political influence of this intellectual improvement among the various communities of the empire soon made itself felt, and had much to do with the startling success of the constitutional revolution carried out, under the direction of the Committee of Union and Progress, in the autumn of 1908.
Climate.—The climate of the city is healthy, but relaxing. It is damp and liable to sudden and great changes of temperature. The winds from the north and those from the south are at constant feud, and blow cold or hot in the most capricious manner, often in the course of the same day. “There are two climates at Constantinople, that of the north and that of the south wind.” The winters may be severe, but when mild they are wet and not invigorating. In summer the heat is tempered by the prevalence of a north-east wind that blows down the channel of the Bosporus. Observations at Constantinople and at Scutari give the following results, for a period of twenty years.
|Mean temperature||57° 7′||58° 1′|
|Maximum||99° 1′||103° 6′|
|Minimum||17° 2′||13° 0′|
|Rain||28.3 in.||29.29 in.|
|Number of rainy days||112||128.6|
The sanitation of the city has been improved, although much remains to be done in that respect. No great epidemic has visited the city since the outbreak of cholera in 1866. Typhoid and pulmonary diseases are common.
Population.—The number of the population of the city is an uncertain figure, as no accurate statistics can be obtained. It is generally estimated between 800,000 and 1,000,000. The inhabitants present a remarkable conglomeration of different races, various nationalities, divers languages, distinctive costumes and conflicting faiths, giving, it is true, a singular interest to what may be termed the human scenery of the city, but rendering impossible any close social cohesion, or the development of a common civic life. Constantinople has well been described as “a city not of one nation but of many, and hardly more of one than of another.” The following figures are given as an approximate estimate of the size of the communities which compose the population.
|Roman Catholics (native)||6,442|
Water-Supply.—Under the rule of the sultans, the water-supply of the city has been greatly extended. The reservoirs in the forest of Belgrade have been enlarged and increased in number, and new aqueducts have been added to those erected by the Byzantine emperors. The use of the old cisterns within the walls has been almost entirely abandoned, and the water is led to basins in vaulted chambers (Taxim), from which it is distributed by underground conduits to the fountains situated in the different quarters of the city. From these fountains the water is taken to a house by water-carriers, or, in the case of the humbler classes, by members of the household itself.
For the supply of Pera, Galata and Beshiktash, Sultan Mahmud I. constructed, in 1732, four bends in the forest of Belgrade, N.N.W. and N.E. of the village of Bagchekeui, and the fine aqueduct which spans the head of the valley of Buyukderé. Since 1885, a French company, La Compagnie des Eaux, has rendered a great service by bringing water to Stamboul, Pera, and the villages on the European side of the Bosporus, from Lake Dercos, which lies close to the shore of the Black Sea some 29 m. distant from the city. The Dercos water is laid on in many houses. Since 1893 a German company has supplied Scutari and Kadikeui with water from the valley of the Sweet Waters of Asia.
Trade.—The trade of the city has been unfavourably affected by the political events which have converted former provinces of the Turkish empire into autonomous states, by the development of business at other ports of the empire, owing to the opening up of the interior country through the construction of railroads, and by the difficulties which the government, with the view of preventing political agitation, has put in the way of easy intercourse by natives between the capital and the provinces. Most of the commerce of the city is in hands of foreigners and of Armenian and Greek merchants. Turks have little if anything to do with trade on a large scale. “The capital,” says a writer in the Konstantinopler Handelsblatt of November 1904, “produces very little for export, and its hinterland is small, extending on the European side only a few kilometres—the outlet for the fertile Eastern Rumelia is Dedeagach—and on the Asiatic side embracing the Sea of Marmora and the Anatolian railway district. Even part of this will be lost to Constantinople when the Anatolian railway is connected with the port of Mersina and with the Kassaba-Smyrna railway. Some 750 tons of the sweetmeat known as ‘Turkish delight’ are annually exported to the United Kingdom, America and Rumelia; embroideries, &c., are sold in fair quantities to tourists. Otherwise the chief articles of Constantinople’s export trade consist of refuse and waste materials, sheep’s wool (called Kassab bashí) and skins from the slaughter-houses (in 1903 about 3,000,000 skins were exported, mostly to America), horns, hoofs, goat and horse hair, guts, bones, rags, bran, old iron, &c., and finally dogs’ excrements, called in trade ‘pure,’ a Constantinople speciality, which is used in preparing leather for ladies’ gloves. From the hinterland comes mostly raw produce such as grain, drugs, wool, silk, ores and also carpets. The chief article is grain.”
The average value of the goods passing through the port of Constantinople at the opening of the 20th century was estimated at about £T 11,000,000. From the imperfect statistics available, the following tables of the class of goods imported and exported, and their respective values, were drawn up in 1901 by the late Mr Whittaker, The Times correspondent.
|Manufactured goods (cotton, woollen, silk, &c)||£T 3,500,000|
|Silk and cocoons||500,000|
About 40% of the import trade of Constantinople is British. According to the trade report of the British consulate, the share of the United Kingdom in the value of £7,142,000 on the total imports to Constantinople during the year 1900–1901 was £1,811,000; while the share of the United Kingdom in the value of £2,669,000 on the total exports during the same year was £998,000. But it is worthy of note that while British commerce still led the way in Turkey, the trade of some other countries with Turkey, especially that of Germany, was increasing more rapidly. Comparing the average of the period 1896–1900 with the total for 1904, British trade showed an increase of 33%, Austro-Hungarian of nearly 60%, Germany of 130%, Italian of 98%, French of 8%, and Belgian of nearly 33%. The shipping visiting the port of Constantinople during the year 1905, excluding sailing and small coasting vessels, was 9796, representing a total of 14,785,080 tons. The percentage of steamers under the British flag was 37.1; of tonnage, 45.9.
Administration.—For the preservation of order and security, the city is divided into four divisions (Belad-i-Selassi), viz. Stamboul, Pera-Galata, Beshiktash and Scutari. The minister of police is at the head of the administration of the affairs of these divisions, and is ex-officio governor of Stamboul. The governors of the other divisions are subordinate to him, but are appointed by the sultan. Each governor has a special staff of police and gendarmery and his own police-court. In each division is a military commander, having a part of the garrison of the city under his orders, but subordinate to the commander-in-chief of the troops guarding the capital.
The municipal government of the four divisions of the city is in the hands of a prefect, appointed by the sultan, and subordinate to the minister of the interior. He is officially styled the prefect of Stamboul, and is assisted by a council of twenty-four members, appointed by the sultan or the minister of the interior. All matters concerning the streets, the markets, the bazaars, the street-porters (hamals), public weighers, baths and hospitals come under his jurisdiction. He is charged also with the collection of the city dues, and the taxes on property. The city is furthermore divided into ten municipal circles as follows. In Stamboul: (1) Sultan Bayezid, (2) Sultan Mehemet, (3) Djerah Pasha (Psamatia); on the European side of the Bosporus and the northern side of the Golden Horn: (4) Beshiktash, (5) Yenikeui, (6) Pera, (7) Buyukderé; on the Asiatic side of the Bosporus: (8) Anadol Hissar, (9) Scutari, (10) Kadikeui. Each circle is subdivided into several wards (mahalleh). “The outlying parts of the city are divided into six districts (Cazas), namely, Princes’ Islands, Guebzeh, Beicos, Kartal, Kuchuk-Chekmedjé and Shilé, each having its governor (kaimakam), who is usually chosen by the palace. These districts are dependencies of the ministry of the interior, and their municipal affairs are directed by agents of the prefecture.”
In virtue of old treaties, known as the Capitulations (q.v.), foreigners enjoy to a large extent the rights of exterritoriality. In disputes with one another, they are judged before their own courts of justice. In litigation between a foreigner and a native, the case is taken to a native court, but a representative of the foreigner’s consulate attends the proceedings. Foreigners have a right to establish their own schools and hospitals, to hold their special religious services, and even to maintain their respective national post-offices. No Turkish policeman may enter the premises of a foreigner without the sanction of the consular authorities to whose jurisdiction the latter belongs. A certain measure of self-government is likewise granted to the native Christian communities under their ecclesiastical chiefs.
guide-books and works already mentioned, see P. Gyllius, De topographia Constantinopoleos, De Bosporo Thracio (1632); Du Cange, Constantinopolis Christiana (1680); J. von Hammer, Constantinopolis und der Bosporos (1822); Mordtmann, Esquisse topographique de Constantinople (1892); E. A. Grosvenor, Constantinople (1895); van Millingen, Byzantine Constantinople (1899); Paspates, Βυζαντιναὶ Μελέτα (1877); Scarlatos Byzantios, Ή Κωνσταντίνου πόλις (1851); E. Pears, Fall of Constantinople (1885), The Destruction of the Greek Empire (1903); Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Salzenberg, Altchristliche Baudenkmale von Konstantinopel; Lethaby and Swainson, The Church of Sancta Sophia; Pulgher, Les Anciennes Églises byzantines de Constantinople; Labarte,Le Palais impérial de Constantinople et ses abords.
- For full information on the subject of the ancient water-supply see Count A. F. Andréossy, Constantinople et le Bosphore; Tchikatchev, Le Bosphore et Constantinople (2nd ed., Paris, 1865); Forchheimer and Strzygowski, Die byzantinischen Wasserbehälter; also article Aqueduct.
- A Turkish lira = 18 shillings (English).