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Cistern of Aspar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Map of Byzantine Constantinople. The Cistern of Aspar is located in the northern part of the city, on the eastern slope of the fifth hill.
Map of Byzantine Constantinople. The Cistern of Aspar is located in the northern part of the city, on the eastern slope of the fifth hill.

The Cistern of Aspar (Greek: ἡ τοῦ Ἂσπαρος κινστέρνη) or Great Cistern (Greek: μεγίστη κινστέρνη), known in Turkish as Sultan Selim Çukurbostanı ("sunken garden of Sultan Selim"),[1] was a Byzantine open-air water reservoir in the city of Constantinople.

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  • ✪ IMPERIO BIZANTINO 1: De la caída de Roma al auge de Justiniano I


My history book ... now on sale The following story takes place between the year 476 and the 610 BUT THAT IS ANOTHER STORY BYZANTINE EMPIRE 1: From the Division to the rise of Justinian I DIVISION AND THE FALL OF THE WEST After the crisis of the third century the Roman Empire changed forever. He was no longer cool, he had lost his mojo. The wars to control everything were perpetuated, and the barbarians of the north did not stop arriving, fleeing from the cold and other invaders. Here elements of the medieval begin to emerge. The cities were fortified, being defended by local caudillos and their private armies. Especially in the West, the State was decentralized and losing power, as well as trade, which lost a lot of steam due to the insecurity of the routes. There was a spiral of anarchy and ruralization, of scarcity and inflation. With this scenario, people were in this plan: "To steal purses ... no pasta to eat ..." All these problems forced the emperor Diocletian to divide, in the year 293, the huge Roman Empire to make it more controllable. One of these emperors defeated all others: Constantine I the Great, the so-called first Christian emperor. It was he who, about the year 324, moved the capital of the empire to a city of Greek origin called Byzantium, which he called New Rome, or Constantinople. In the most important cities, such as Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem or this Constantinople, the bishops would eventually be called patriarchs or popes. In theory all had their autonomy, but in the background, the hegemonic Church began to be that of Constantinople, the so-called Orthodox Church. One of the most well-known patriarchs of the time was Juan Crisostomo, who denounced abuses of power and excessive luxury of the emperors and the clergy. The Eastern Emperor Valens lost his life in the Battle of Adrianople against the invading Goths. Then came Theodosius I, who placed Christianity as the official religion of the empire with the Edict of Thessalonica, and then reigned his sons: Honorius in the west and Arcadius in the east. The empire was already definitely divided into two. Theodosius II ruled over 40 years and reinforced Constantinople with ramparts of the host. He was really a child when the construction began, and his prefect of the Praetorium Antemio was in charge of everything. These triple Theodosian walls with almost 100 towers would withstand a lot of assaults for centuries and centuries. He also created a large center of studies in Constantinople, with almost 30 chairs, and drafted the Theodosian Code, which compiled the laws of Christian emperors. After him reigned Marciano (yes, there was an emperor with that name), and then Leon I the Great. This emperor did something intelligent. The empire had many Germanic soldiers, controlled by the magister militum Aspar, also of Germanic descent. Of course, the uncle was a danger and Leon I, to prevent them from turning against him, threw them all to replace them with some mountaineers from the region of Isauria, in Asia Minor, creating the body of the excubitors as a personal guard. One of these Isaurian leaders, Tarasis, the cause of the fall of Aspar, married Ariadna, daughter of the emperor, and after being commander, magister militum and consul, ended up reigning with the name of Zeno. "Bufff, uncle ... that escalated quickly ..." A Roman-barbarian general was Odoacer, of the tribe of the Hérulos, who ended up entering Italy in 476 to depose the last western Roman emperor: Romulus Augustulus. Rome had fallen into the hands of the barbarians, but the eastern part would last 1000 years more. That Eastern Roman Empire was called ... Byzantine Empire. THE JUSTINIAN DYNASTY As I already told in the videos about Rome, they never called themselves "Byzantines", but "Romans", Basileia ton Romaion or the Empire of the Greeks, as they were called by other kingdoms. Where does the term "Byzantine" come from? Well from the ancient city of Byzantium, but the Byzantine Empire was created by French scholars of the sixteenth or seventeenth century. You have to consider an important thing. The Middle Ages as such happened in Western Europe, with feudalism and all that shit. Byzantium was characterized by the Christian religion, by the Greek culture - because they spoke Greek, and to a lesser extent Latin -, and also by maintaining the Roman state structure. Come on, there was not much change either. The emperor, the basileus or autocrator, was the head of the State and representative of God on Earth. They chose their successors, or caesars, who could be their children, although it was also common for all of them to be bequeathed to their nephews. He could choose the Patriarchs but the Patriarchs in turn gave the go-ahead to the new emperor. There was also a Senate, or Synkletos, whose function was basically to moderate the authoritarianism of the emperor. At first, the territory was divided into dioceses governed by a vicar, a civil governor, and by a duke or duke, who had control of the troops. His superior was the Magister Militum. Society in general was engaged in agriculture and crafts. Other jobs were bankers, notaries, perfumers, soap makers, couturiers, fishermen, bakers, bartenders ... Returning to history, Zenón was named emperor, but Basilisco removed the throne to him. A few months later he recovered it, but just happened the fall of Rome. The Odoacer heir had taken Italy, so the Byzantine told the Ostrogoths of Theodoric I that he would give them charges and honors if they threw these invading rogues. His idea was basically to kill each other. However, the only thing he achieved was that the Ostrogoths settled and created a powerful kingdom in Italy. The good thing is that they were quite peaceful. Now we have to talk about the Monophysite heresy. These were Christians who said that the Yisus had only one divine nature, and that it was not human. The Orthodox did not see this as appropriate, they followed the creed of the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon, but they saw how in Egypt, Libya and Syria Monophysitism was widespread. Patriarch Acacio published the Henotikon, an edict to try to unite both ways of understanding Christ. The only thing they managed was to confuse the rock and above the Pope of Rome Felix III, who had the support of Odoacro, sent them to hell with the Acacian Schism, which lasted 30 years. Zenón died without children, and Ariadna then chose a new emperor, an Albanian decurion of the palace called Anastasio. The guy married the widow to strengthen his position, and managed to get out of the economic crisis that had started many years ago. Now the coffers had a surplus. Come on, they were gold up your ass. There were two important currencies, the solid gold and the copper number. He also stopped recruiting isauries for the body of excubitors, because they fell ill and began to gain a lot of power, and with those things you had to be careful. "You know what I'm telling you, that on Monday you do not have to work, that you come to look for your beach bar and the fucking street". Since poor Anastasius had no children, at his death in 518 the Justinian Dynasty rose to Byzantium. The Senate approved the elder Justin, head of the excubitors, as the new emperor. The old man was illiterate, but he had good advisers, such as his nephew Flavius ​​Petrus Sabbatius, better known as Justinian, whom he would name successor. This Justiniano I became from 527 in one of the most epic emperors of the empire, and the last one in using the Latin as mother tongue. He was also a very orthodox Christian, and he created quite strict laws against Jews, Manicheans and heretical Christians such as Nestorians, Monophysites and Arians. They were forbidden to hold public office, certain jobs, mixed marriages, have Christian slaves ... Paganism was something that gave the emperor repelus, and even closed the Academy of Plato in Athens in the year 529. The academics decided to go to Persia to see if they had more luck, but they saw no and ended up returning. Justi shared his power with his wife, Empress Teodora, a very beautiful, intelligent and ambitious woman. He came from the humble class; She was an actress and a mountebank at the circus, and she threw more Monophysitism at him. The wedding was quite scandalous at the time. None of this prevented her from having enough influence on her husband's decisions. For example, it is believed that he was becoming more flexible with the Monophysites. In 530, Justinian began to create the famous Justinian Code. It was a compilation of all the classic Roman legal work, adding new laws and making adjustments to simplify everything a bit, because that was a fucking chaos. Some of the editors were the Tribonian jurist and the prefect of the praetorium of Cappadocia. In those years the Byzantines, or rather, the Romans, were rich, while the barbarian kingdoms of the West were a bit in the shit. It was the best time to try to recover the West and restore the Roman Empire of yesteryear. To achieve this he needed peace with Sassanid Persia. It was in 530 that a young general named Flavius ​​Belisarius won a great victory at the Battle of Dara. Shortly after the Persians obtained a pírrica victory in Calínico and both sides had to sign the call Eternal Peace, that was not eternal exactly. Byzantium had lost money with all the Persian imbroglio, and Justinian raised taxes a lot, and on top he put unpopular people in the best positions, more on merit than for being aristocrats. Because of this, the famous Niká Insurrection of the year 532 began during a festival at the city's racecourse. The faction of the Greens, the Prasinoi, composed mostly of Monophysite merchants, rose up against their rivals, the Blues, the Venetoi, Orthodox landlords, and violence escalated rapidly. Justinian was poop and prepared to give the pyro of the city, but of course, his wife Theodora said: "Listen to me, Justi. It is better to die as emperor than to live as a refugee. " "Well, thinking about it ... What the hell ... You're right, honey. "Of course, kill those bastards" Justi came up and put Belisario as head of the royal guard, and it was this general, along with another called Mundo, who destroyed the enemies of the emperor who were protesting at the racecourse. It was a killing of milk. The city of Constantinople was a shit, but it was restored and the result was spectacular. The primitive church erected by Constantine was transformed into the famous Basilica of Saint Sophia, or of the Holy Wisdom. The architects Antemio de Tralles and Isidoro de Mileto created a huge dome more than 30 meters in diameter. In these types of basilicas the apses were introduced, full of religious mosaics, with a kind of throne where the bishop sat. Constantinople had a racecourse from the time of Septimius Severus, although Constantine extended it an egg. Here car races were held, which they liked very much, and also animal fights, although they ended up being plated for being very beasts. Next door was the Imperial Palace of Daphne, which was the official residence until around 1100. Next to the sea was the Bucoleón Palace, probably built during the reign of Theodosius II, and which would have several extensions. Near these palaces there was also the Magnaura Palace, which hosted the Seado del Senado. The ancient mausoleum of Constantine became the Church of the Holy Apostles of Constantinople, where Justinian would be buried. Another important place was the Forum of Constantine, with statues of his everywhere and where the Senate building was formerly located, in the time of this emperor. In the year 541 they stopped choosing consuls, although at that time it was already a symbolic position. The Aqueduct of Valente was very long, and it carried fresh water to the center of the city. All this water was stored in huge underground deposits, such as the Basilica Cistern, also built in the time of Justi. Finally we have the neighborhood of Pera, on the other side of the Golden Horn, where the foreigners lived, there to move away. Far from Constantinople, churches such as San Vital in Ravenna were built, and many monasteries, something that became fashionable. The Santa Catalina Monastery stands out, built on the slopes of Mount Sinai, in the place where, according to the Bible, Moses spoke with God. Before there was a small church built by Constantine and his mother, Saint Helena. Another thing that was reformed was the administration. Juan de Capadocia made it more complicated than the governors and the high provincial officials abused his power. The bastards were taking land and wanted to build their own latifundia. Nothing, all the pasta for Justi that had to conquer the east. For this it was necessary to reform the army, and new inventions arrived. They copied the metal stirrups to the Huns, so that the rider gained stability in the trot. Of the Persians they copied the cataphracts, you know, the armored horses, which also had archers. Byzantium never had a gigantic army. I speak of about 150,000 men during these years. They were few, but very prepared, very professional. "Where is the fly, here or here?" First objective: the Vandals of the North African. In year 533 a fleet of 500 dromones directed by Belisario put course to Carthage. The Battle of Ad Decimum first and that of Tricameron later meant the end of all these people, and their king Gelimer was forgiven and they gave him lands in Galatia. The Byzantines conquered North Africa, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. All these victories were collected by the personal historian of the emperor: Procopio de Cesárea. Second objective: Italy. It was necessary to take advantage of the fact that the Ostrogothic kingdom was living in chaos due to the regency of Amalasunta, the daughter of Teodorico, and the death of the heir, the Atalarico child. The woman married Teodato but he, who did not want the woman sending him, executed her. Despite having few troops, Belisario reconquered part of Italy. He landed in Sicily with 7,500 men, climbed the western coast to Naples and from there reached Rome, which he managed to take in 536. The old capital was pretty shitty, and people were progressively abandoning it. At that time the Bishop of Rome was Agapito I, who visited Constantinople to put some peace. The new Ostrogothic King Witiges tried to recover Rome, but they could not. Shortly after Genoa, Milan fell and in 540 Belisario managed to take Ravenna, the Ostrogothic capital. It was easy because the Ostrogoths offered him the position of emperor of the West, and Belisario pretended to accept to enter the city and beat them the buttonhole. In addition also the Persians of Chosroes I annul the peace and conquered Antioch. They recovered it soon after but the city ended in ruins. Neither side achieved anything since a disease began to decimate the population of both empires. "Affirmative, you have to vaccinate yourself, okay?" Narses was another general, older and more eunuch, and this one fell better to the emperor because Belisarius was almost more popular than him. While he resumed the fight in Italy, it is said that Belisarius was called to Constantinople and tried for corruption. In the year 552 Narses completely defeated the Ostrogoths of King Teia at the Battle of Mount Lactarius. After this 2nd Gothic War (542-552), the Ostrogoths withdrew from Italy carrying the body of their king, who had fallen in battle. Shortly after the Byzantine troops of General Liberio landed in Hispania and conquered part of the Levantine area taking advantage of the civil war between the Gothic kings. There they created the province of Spania. Ok, everything was very cool, right? Justiniano certainly was very happy and happy, but that was not going to last long. Teodora palmed it, and by the year 559 new barbarian peoples came from the Russian steppes wanting to cross the Danube River, the northern border. The Avars were a Turkic people of Central Asia who fled from the Huns and the Kokturks, occupied Pannonia and led by Bayán, drove first the Gepids and then the Lombards, who in turn decided to try to penetrate Italy. On the other hand were the Slavs, coming from the area of ​​high Dnieper who little by little were migrating to the south and joining the Avars. In what is now Ukraine were the Bulgarians, other Turkic divided into Utigures, Onogures and Cutrigures. The latter, in the year 551, put the capital, Constantinople, in grave danger. Zabergán crossed the frozen Danubio and was presented in front of the walls of the capital with 7000 horsemen. Justinian had no choice but to call Belisario, who was already retired, to save his ass. The uncle caught the 300 guards of the palace, gave weapons to the people of the street and seized all the horses and went into battle. The defeat of those barbarians was very regrettable, Belisario returned to petarlo. "You are good, uncle" In the year 565 Emperor Justinian died, leaving the Empire in bankruptcy. There were not enough troops to defend the conquests of the Lombards who were trying to penetrate Italy, or the Slavs and Avars who were settling in the Balkans. The new emperor, Justin II, was the poor little lost, and the Persians knew, so they took advantage to conquer all they could. The Lombards managed to subdue Venice and northeastern Italy led by their king Alboino, but they killed him in 572. Apparently his wife Rosamunda wanted revenge, because the Lombard king had forced him to drink wine from the skull of his own father, the last gepid king. "People have a crazy head" The next decade was chaotic, as Lombardy Italy was divided into mogollón of independent duchies, until some joined forming the Duchy of Spoleto and Benevento, which became large centers of power in the central area. To make matters worse, the Armenians rebelled against the Persians and asked for help from the Byzantine emperor. With so many problems, Justin II was the head. He threw himself out of the windows, he bit people ... and his wife Sofia took the reins of government. She achieved peace with Chosroes I and raised the imperial guard Tiberius II to the rank of emperor Augustus in the year 578. He is said to have been the first 100% Greek emperor, since the former were more Latin-Illyrian. After only four years of reign, General Mauricio succeeded him. The man took great risks when they threw Chosroes II out of the throne of Persia. Mauricio decided to become his friend and help him regain the throne, and when they succeeded in 591 they signed a pretty nice truce for both, and for a long time they were felted by mail. Mauricio then went to Italy and created a new form of government. The Exarcado de Ravenna was an external provincial administration of military court led by an exarch or military commander. In Carthage an exarcado of these was also created, and that was quite successful. Mauri began a campaign against the Slavs of the Balkans. Beginning in 583, Avars and Slavs penetrated into Greece plundering many cities. After a decade of struggles, Mauricio became serious. His troops recovered Sirmiun and captured King Musocio. However, the enemy raids kept coming. The emperor told his brother Peter, who was a general, that the army would spend the winter protecting the Danube. In addition, the Avars offered to free 12,000 prisoners in exchange for 6,000 gold coins. Mauricio rejected it and all were executed. "And to take for ass" All this caused the soldiers to riot and help an illiterate centurion of Thracian origin to give a coup d'état. This guy was Flavio Seals. A maderfoca de cuidao. He proclaimed himself emperor and began a time of terror where all the opposition was charged. He murdered Mauri and all his sons, exposing their severed heads in public, and of course, his great friend Chosroes II swore revenge, and Persia declared war on the Maderfocas. Phocas did not receive much help from Syria, Palestine and Egypt, because in these territories the most widespread religion was Monophysite Christianity and there were also many Jews, whom he tried to convert by force. Syrians and Egyptians went from supporting an emperor who wanted to persecute them, so Chosroes II did not have much opposition and put in check to Constantinople. The end of Seals arrived in 610. The exarch of Carthage Heraclius rose against him and conquered Egypt. Later he ascended through Syria while his son Heraclius the Younger went to Constantinople by boat. They won and Phocas was executed.



The cistern is located in Istanbul, in the district of Fatih (the walled city), in the most elevated part of the quarter of Fener, in the neighborhood named after the building Çukurbostan, near the Yavuz Selim Mosque, between Sultan Selim Caddesi and Yavuz Selim Caddesi. It lies on the eastern slope of the fifth hill of Istanbul, overlooking the Golden Horn.


Aspar and his eldest son Ardabur, depicted in the Missorium of Aspar (c. 434)
Aspar and his eldest son Ardabur, depicted in the Missorium of Aspar (c. 434)

The construction of this cistern, which lay in the fourteenth region of Constantinople, in the area called by the Byzantines Petrion, was started in 459, under Emperor Marcian (r. 450-57), by Aspar, an Alan-Gothic general serving the empire, and by his sons Ardabur and Patricius, during the consulship of Ricimer and Patricius.[2] According to the 7th-century Chronicon Paschale, the structure lay "near the ancient wall of the city", that is near the Wall of Constantine.[2] Older authors for a long time were unable to confirm its identity, which was ascribed to several of the city's cisterns, namely those of Bonus, of Arcadius or of the Petrion: only in recent times did its identification become certain.[1] After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the French traveler Pierre Gilles observed that around 1540 the reservoir was empty,[2] but its usage as a reservoir could have ceased already in the late Byzantine era, since then it was known under the name of Xerokepion (Ξηροκήπιον, "Dry Garden" in Greek).[3] According to a tradition, the cistern was directly connected to the Hagia Sophia, which lies about three kilometers southeast, through a passage situated towards the mid of the southeastern side and closed around the middle of the 19th century.[3] During the reign of Sultan Suleyman I (r. 1520-66), a small mosque was built inside the reservoir.[1] During the Ottoman period, as its Turkish name Çukurbostan ("hollow garden") betrays, the structure was used as a vegetable garden; afterwards it hosted a small village, surrounded by orchards and gardens.[1][4] As of 2004, the village, except for its mosque, had been demolished to allow the construction of a car park.[5] The site is now used for a park and sport fields.[6] It was used for a while as an "Education Park" (Turkish: Eğitim parkı) of Fatih, but this has ceased.[7]

Identification problem

As for other cisterns of the city, the identification of the cistern of Aspar followed only around the middle of the 20th century. It is known from the Byzantine sources that the reservoir lay near the palace of Manuel, the monasteries of Kaiouma, of the Chrysobalanton, of Manuel, of the Theotokos of "tá Koronės" (Greek: τὰ Κορὼνης), and of the monastery of Saint Theodosia.[2] There were two crucial elements which led to the structure's identification: its erection near the wall of Constantine, and its description as "large" (Greek: μεγίστη).[2] The reservoir has been successively identified with: a cistern located near the Bodrum Mosque; the vaulted cistern located southeast of the Çukurbostan of the Gate of Adrianople of the Theodosian walls and known as Zina Yokusu Bodrumi; the cistern near the Sivasli Dede Mescid, placed to the southeast of the Yavuz Selim Mosque; the Çukurbostan of the Gate of Charisius, (later certainly identified with the Cistern of Aetius).[2] The first two reservoirs can be excluded since they are too far from the wall of Constantine, moreover, the second is small. The third cistern has large dimensions, but lies also too far from the ancient wall, while the fourth, although lying near the wall, is also too small.[2] The only reservoir which satisfies both requisites, of large dimensions and of a position near the old wall, is that known in Istanbul as Yavuz Selim Çukurbostanı because of its proximity with the Yavuz Selim Mosque; this led to its identification with the Cistern of Aspar towards the middle of the 20th century.[1]


The Cistern of Aspar in 2013
The Cistern of Aspar in 2013

The cistern has a square plan with a side 152 metres (499 ft) long covering an area of 23,100 square metres (249,000 sq ft): its average depth lies between 10 metres (33 ft) and 11 metres (36 ft).[1] It could contain about 0.230–0.250 million cubic metres (61–66 million US gallons) of water.[1] Its walls, 5.20 metres (17.1 ft) m thick [1] and partially still in place, were built using the Roman construction technique named opus listatum by alternating five courses of bricks and five courses of stone, an elegant pattern similar to that also used by the cistern of Aetius.[3] On the inner walls are visible remains of arches, a fact which has led some to assume that the cistern may have been covered.[3] The Cistern of Pulcheria is located near the Cistern of Aspar's southeast corner.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Müller-Wiener (1977), p. 279
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Janin (1964), p. 204
  3. ^ a b c d Mamboury (1953), p. 325
  4. ^ Eyice (1955), p. 62.
  5. ^ a b Freely and Çakmak (2004), p. 55.
  6. ^ "Κινστέρνα Άσπαρος". Εις την Πόλιν (in Greek). Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  7. ^ Altun (2009), p. 140.


  • Mamboury, Ernest (1953). The Tourists' Istanbul. Istanbul: Çituri Biraderler Basımevi.
  • Eyice, Semavi (1955). Istanbul. Petite Guide a travers les Monuments Byzantins et Turcs (in French). Istanbul: Istanbul Matbaası.
  • Freely, John; Çakmak, Ahmet S. (2004). Byzantine Monuments of Istanbul. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521179058.
  • Janin, Raymond (1964). Constantinople Byzantine (in French). Paris: Institut Français d'Etudes Byzantines.
  • Müller-Wiener, Wolfgang (1977). Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls: Byzantion, Konstantinupolis, Istanbul bis zum Beginn d. 17 Jh. Tübingen: Wasmuth. ISBN 978-3-8030-1022-3.
  • Altun, Feride Imrana (2009). Istanbul`un 100 Roma, Bizans Eseri (in Turkish). Istanbul: Istanbul Buyukșehir Belediyesi Kültür A.Ş. Yayınları. ISBN 978-9944-370-76-9.

This page was last edited on 7 June 2019, at 21:29
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