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"You've Got to Sleep With Your Mum and Dad" is now available on Amazon. Childhood angst, marathon swimming, international exploitation and the threat of impending pinniped intimacy. on 2014-08-13
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Have a look at my page on Amazon. Still plenty of summer left for challenging literature. on 2014-08-13
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Check out my Amazon Kindle page. 'The Baby Who Killed People for Money' is now available. An utterly charming child with a unique and lucrative skill. A father with no defence against his daughter's impulses. Would you take your little girl around Europe for a spot of murder tourism? Of course you would. on 2014-06-30
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My story on the Tate gallery website on 2013-11-11
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A Thousand Natural Shocks An anthology that includes two of my stories. Available now at Amazon. on 2013-11-11
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Columns and capitals from the Church of St John the Baptist

Columns and capitals from the Church of St John the Baptist

Bakırköy is inextricably linked in Istanbul’s collective mind with the presence of a psychiatric hospital but was a desirable residential seaside location throughout most of the twentieth century. Long before that, it was a thriving Byzantine suburb seven (hebdomon means seventh) miles from the Milion, the marker of the centre of Constantinople. Ebuzzıya Caddesi turns out to be a pleasant shopping street with an Armenian and a Greek church (41.977345,28.874812). The Greek one is the successor to a Byzantine Church of St John the Evangelist. There was uproar a few years ago when a road-widening meant that the narthex of this church was demolished. Its place is now (2014) taken by a rather nasty littl e wooden structure. Still, go ahead and light a candle.

The much larger Church of John the Baptist was in a location (40.979215, 28.882061) now on Istanbul Caddesi. Here, the hand and occipital bone of the Christener of Christ were once kept, despite the existence elsewhere of several intact heads of the saint. Umberto Eco made much sport of the proliferation of Baptist heads in his novel Baudolino. The relics from the Church of John the Baptist are now in Topkapı Sarayı, displayed with appropriate solemnity.

1990 photo of the relics of John the Baptist in Topkapı Sarayı

1990 photo of the relics of John the Baptist in Topkapı Sarayı

This was the church in which Byzantine emperors were crowned before entering the city in triumph through the Golden Gate. Mamboury reported that significant remains of the church were visible in the 1950s. These disappeared underneath housing. The octagonal Byzantine church of St John the Baptist was discovered when the site of the SSK hospital (41.979183,28.881252) was being excavated. However, the hospital is not terribly photogenic.

This picture shows the remains of the Church of John the Baptist in 1960, just before they were destroyed to build the SSK Çocuk Hastanesi on Istanbul Caddesi.

This picture shows the remains of the Church of John the Baptist in 1960, just before they were destroyed to build the SSK Çocuk Hastanesi on Istanbul Caddesi.

Campus Tribunalis was a military complex built in the 4th century by Emperor Valentinian I. It served as the mustering ground for troops before and after campaigns in Thrace and beyond. It was famously extravagant for an army barracks and had swimming pools, baths and churches. Now it is an industrial zone and site of the Veliefendi Hippodrome, which charges 2 lira for men and 1 lira for women to watch horse races. There is one remaining Byzantine wall (40.981580, 28.885616) which is now part of a police parking area for impounded cars. Until a few years ago there was a small but intact Byzantine building near the police karakol. Now, like the karakol, it is gone. Massive building work in 2015 threatens the few remaining Byzantine stones.

A section of Byzantine foundations (40.981147, 28.886185) has been preserved among the construction. The security staff told me that it was the Hebdomon Palace but they wouldn’t let me in to see. I had to take photos over the fence.

Eastern end of the foundations

Eastern end of the foundations

'Hebdomon Palace' foundations, November 2015

‘Hebdomon Palace’ foundations, November 2015

Byzantine wall at Campus Tribunalis

Byzantine wall at Campus Tribunalis

Arches in the wall near Veliefendi Hipodromu

Arches in the wall near Veliefendi Hipodromu

In the Bakırköy area, the major Byzantine sites seem to have hospitals built on them. For Campus Tribunalis, the medical successor is Kızılay Ahmet Bahadırlı Tıp Merkezi, on the coast road. In the excavations to build the foundations for the hospital, a number of ecclesiastical-looking architectural fragments were unearthed. These are now on display in an area of the garden where nobody goes (40.979188, 28.886262). One of these fragments is grandly called a Roman Mortarium in the literature. Slightly disappointingly, this turns out to be a dished stone used for grinding grains and herbs.

Fifth century capital and mortarium

Fifth century capital and mortarium

Columns and capitals from Campus Tribunalis

Columns and capitals from Campus Tribunalis

Another hospital, Bakırköy Akıl ve Sinir Hastalıkları Hastanesi was built over a Byzantine hypogeum, a sort of subterranean church built as a cemetery. Some remnants are in a circular park in the centre of the hospital grounds (40.991168, 28.862196). They include a bathtub sarcophagus and some 6th century column capitals. The remains of the hypogeum itself seem to be popular with parkour enthusiasts.

The hypogeum was rediscovered in 1914 during construction work for barracks at the start of World War I. After the war, the French occupying troops were pressed into service as excavators. The triumph of the Turkish republicans meant the exit of the French in 1923, leaving the investigation unfinished. I am not sure that any real archaeological work has been done since. The site has almost disappeared again but the basic structure is still discernible.

It is a 5th century circular building, shaped into a cross by four naves. The resulting quarters formed pillars that supported a dome. In the opposite walls of each pillar were arched tombs for a sarcophagus. Around the outside of the whole structure was a narrow circular passage, still accessible and in good condition. Sarcophagi were found in six of the eight niches. One was claimed to be that of Emperor Basil II, something of a hero to the recently victorious Turks. Basil ruled from 976 to 1025 and defeated the Bulgarian forces who had threatened the area to the west of Constantinople for centuries. By the time the hypogeum was excavated, he was popularly known as the Bulgar-slayer. The time was right for a shrine to a nationalist hero, even though there was no evidence that his body had ever been placed there. The legend of Basil’s burial place, like the site itself, crumbled back into oblivion.

Western nave. Niche at left faces another (under ivy at right). Entrance to circular pasage to the right of the tree.

Western nave. Niche at left faces another (under ivy at right). Entrance to circular passage to the right of the tree.

west-facing niche on southern nave.

West-facing niche on southern nave.

Looking west from the eastern rim of the church. On the left is the north-west buttress. One of the niches can be seen at lower left.

Looking west from the eastern rim of the church. On the left is the north-west pillar. One of the niches can be seen at lower left.

Niche for sarcophagus in north-west buttress, facing onto the western nave. At the back, the passage turns at right angles to form the niche facing the northen nave.

Niche for sarcophagus in north-west pillar, facing onto the western nave. At the back, the passage turns at right angles to form the niche facing the northern nave.

The circular passageway surrounding the main structure.

The circular passageway surrounding the main structure.

Sarcophagus and capitals from the Hypogeum

Sarcophagus and capitals from the Hypogeum

Truncated Church of St George in Bakırköy

Truncated Church of St George in Bakırköy

Headstones in the Church of St George, Bakırköy

Headstones in the Church of St George, Bakırköy

Mosaic from Church of St John, Archaeological Museum of Istanbul

Mosaic from Church of St John, Archaeological Museum of Istanbul

Fildamı Sarnıcı, the massive cistern near Bakırköy where the Sultan allegedly once kept his elephants.

Fildamı Sarnıcı, the massive cistern near Bakırköy where the Sultan allegedly once kept his elephants.

This cistern once provided the water for the Hebdomon area. This part at the south-west corner was a pressure tower where water was allowed to rise from the cistern for distribution.

This cistern once provided the water for the Hebdomon area. This part at the south-west corner was a pressure tower where water was allowed to rise from the cistern for distribution.

Part of the cistern near the current entrance. It looks a little like the Church of St Saviour Philanthropes, which is embedded in the sea walls.

Part of the cistern near the current entrance. It looks a little like the Church of St Saviour Philanthropes, which is embedded in the sea walls.  

View of the north wall of the western entrance to the Martyrion At left is a niche, at right is the brickwork over the ambulatory passage. June 2017

View of the north wall of the western entrance to the Martyrion At left is a niche, at right is the brickwork over the ambulatory passage. June 2017

 

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One Response to “Hebdomon/Bakırköy”

  1. Enormousfish | Index | Adam Kaya Heskith | Author and Writer | Enormousfish Says:
    July 1st, 2014 at 5:33 am

    […] Bakırköy […]

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