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Hooped Column Popular Places

Walking along Divan Yolu from Sultanahmet to Beyazit Square and the Grand Bazaar, you come to Çemberlitas ('rock with hoops'), a tall, obviously very old and dismal-looking porphyry column. It was erected on May 11, 330 by Constantine the Great to celebrate the designation of Constantinople as the new capital of the Roman Empire. 

The column was the centerpiece in the Forum of Constantine, a grand colonnaded plaza which may have resembled the one designed by Bernini and built in front of St Peter's basilica in Rome. Statues of pagan gods and Christian saints decorated the forum. 

Atop the column was a gigantic statue of the Emperor Constantine dressed and adorned as Apollo. The statue toppled in a hurricane in 1106 and was later replaced by a huge cross. After the Ottoman conquest the cross was removed. 

In 1779 a conflagration destroyed this whole neighborhood and left the column with black scorch marks, earning it the nickname 'Burnt Column.' Sultan Abdülhamit I had the column restored after the fire, and added the present masonry base. 

The original 4th-century base is about 3 meters (10 feet) below the present surface, so the 35-meter (115-foot) column you see is actually only part of the column's original height. Its iron hoops were replaced in the 1970s to keep it upright for a few more centuries (19 and counting). 

In 2004 it was shrouded in scaffolding as extensive repairs and restoration were carried out.

Address: Çemberlitaş Durağı,Yeniçeriler Cd.,Fatih/İstanbul


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