A Magnificent Structure in Istanbul: Obelisk of Theodosius

Initially worked at the Temple of Karnak, the Obelisk of Theodosius voyaged everywhere throughout the old world before winding up in its present Turkish home. The hieroglyphics-secured tower that presently sits in a square in Istanbul was initially cut between 1500-1400 BCE in Egypt. The red stone tower sat left alone close to the Temple of Karnak for a long time, and it wasn’t until the mid-300’s CE that a Roman sovereign had the pillar shipped down the waterway Nile to Alexandria. The tremendous antiquity stayed there for just an inadequate not many decades before it was by and by moving. This time the stone pinnacle was moved to what was at the time Constantinople where it lives today.

As the acclaimed tune says, Constantinople is currently Istanbul which is the place the Obelisk of Theodosius despite everything sits. The tower is surprisingly all around kept up for being a large number of years old and the segments of hieroglyphics on every one of the four sides are still sharp and clear. The pictograms portray the monolith’s maker’s (Tutmoses III) triumph during a fight on the Euphrates. Presently the pillar lays on bronze squares in an open square which is normally packed with artists, craftsmen, road entertainers, and sightseers who are willfully ignorant of the stone pinnacle’s excursion.


The Obelisk of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmosis III in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square was initially raised in year 33 in his rule (fifteenth century BC) at the sanctuary of Karnak, on the event of his subsequent celebration. It once remained with its pair toward the south of the Seventh Pylon flanking the sanctuary’s entryway. In the bygone eras, pillars were constantly raised two by two.

It’s a one-piece (stone monument) pink rock monolith cut in Aswan. Initially, it was more than 30 meters (95 feet) tall and weighing around 380 tons, today just 19 meters (65 feet) left of it. The monolith was brought from Karnak to Constantinople by sovereign Theodosius I in 390 AD, to enrich the Hippodrome. It’s the most established landmark that you can find in Istanbul.

On each side of the monolith, a standing god is holding the hand of the lord and stretching out to him the indication of life. On the highest point of each side, there is a scene of Thutmosis III making contributions to the god Amon-Ra, and beneath the scene, there is a solitary segment of symbolic representations. Each composing starts with a rundown of the lord’s titles. The engraving fundamentally observes Thutmosis III’s triumph intersection of the Euphrates River in Syria (Great Circle of Naharina) in 1450 BC.

Thutmosis III is alluded to as “Ruler of Jubilees” on the monolith which refers “Intersection the Great Circle of Naharina in valor and triumphs at the leader of his military, making extraordinary butcher… Ruler of Victory who stifles all terrains, building up his wilderness toward the Beginning of the Earth [the outrageous south] up to the Swampy Lands of Naharina [the most distant north]….”

The most seasoned landmark of Constantinople is the monolith in the Hippodrome, which was raised by the sovereign Theodosius I in 390, yet is in actuality a whole lot more established: it was initially made for Thutmose III, who controlled Egypt from 1479 to 1425. The pink rock stone was, in this way, very nearly two centuries old as of now when Theodosius put it on the spine, the longitudinal boundary in the focal point of the Hippodrome, where it was remaining beside the Serpents’ Column, directly before the magnificent cabin (kathisma).

The arrangement to carry this monolith to Constantinople was not Theodosius’s. Constantius II (r.337-361) had just played with the thought, and the twenty-meter tall landmark had just been brought down from its unique platform in Egypt, however, had been left relinquished on one of the banks of the Nile. In a letter to the individuals of Alexandria, the ruler Julian (r.361-363) requested them to ensure that the pillar would even now be sent to Constantinople.

It is conceivable that the landmark was first brought to Athens, was left there when Julian was murdered and was at last brought to its goal in the capital of the eastern a large portion of the Roman Empire. By at that point, a piece of the stone was missing: what had been a monolith of 28 meters tall was at this point 19½ long. A 6th-century recorder, Marcellinus Comes, expresses that the landmark was raised in 390 CE and this is substantiated by the engraving on the pedestal, which expresses that it happened when Proculus was praefectus urbi, i.e., somewhere in the range of 388 and 392.

This date causes us to distinguish a few anonymous individuals. The “everlasting relatives” of Theodosius must be his children Honorius (six years of age) and Arcadius (thirteen years of age). In 390, one may sensibly expect that the administration would have proceeded. The “curbed dictators” may allude to Magnus Maximus and his child Flavius Victor, who had been executed in 388.

A fascinating part of the content is that “Proculus” has been eradicated and reestablished. In 392, he lost Theodosius’ kindness and was executed; his dad Tatianus was saved and restored in 396, and all things considered, at that point, the damnation memoriae was denied.

Its Shape and What It Has On Its Sides

The Obelisk of Theodosius lays on an extravagantly adorned base portraying Theodosius and his court at the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Underneath the principle, the Proconnesian marble base (around 7 square meters) is another more extensive base with Greek and Latin engravings and hippodrome scenes. Furthermore, four bronze 3D shapes help the edges of the pillar, while four stone squares are set between the sides of the upper base and lower base. The reliefs on the base comprise one of the most significant dated bits generally old fashioned models to endure. Reliefs on each of the four sides of the upper base show the head and his court going to the games.

On each side, the reliefs are isolated into two registers by a cross-section balustrade that isolates the upper level of seating from the lower. The upper register on each side shows the kathisma – the supreme box at the Hippodrome which was connected with Great Palace. At the focal point of the upper register is the majestic gathering, which is flanked by two lines of figures: authorities in the first line and Germanic patrol at the back column. It is conceivable that these authorities were exclusively depicted, however, it is difficult to affirm because of the present state of the reliefs.

The Germanic patrols wear torques around their necks, convey lances, and hold shields. The lower registers vary on each side of the base, with straightforward levels of observers on the southwestern and northeastern sides. On the northeastern side, two standing specialists are remaining beneath the kathisma, by an angled portal. This curve entryway is delineated on the southwest side too.

On the northwestern side, there are four focal figures, the biggest is Theodosius, while to his left side is the Western Emperor Valentinian II (19 years of age in 390) and on the left, Arcadius and Honorius (at that point 13 and 6 years of age). Its lower register portrays stooping savages introducing blessings, which was maybe intended to speak to a brute government office. On the southeastern side, the focal figure is Theodosius, who remains with the triumph wreath in his grasp. The two littler figures adjacent to him are by and large recognize as his children Arcadius and Honorius, the future rulers of the Eastern and Western Roman Empire.

On each side, there are a few figures portrayed in consular dress and holding the Mappa – the white material dropped to flag the beginning of the chariot race. The southeastern side, underneath the scene with Theodosius holding the triumph wreath, has two levels of observers with the third level of female artists and artists playing woodwinds and water organs.

There are likewise scenes from the hippodrome on the lower reliefs. On the northeastern side is a delineation of the erection of the monolith. The upper east face of the monolith is portrayed lying on the ground before the Hippodrome’s corridors. An authority (conceivably Proclus himself) is legitimately the laborers, who endeavor to raise the monolith with ropes and windlasses.

On its southwestern side, the monolith stands erect on the spine of the Hippodrome, alongside the Masonry Obelisk, the metal and maybe the lap counter. There are four-horse chariots demonstrated dashing from left to directly underneath the spine. Over the spina are two figures riding on horseback, probably triumphant charioteers praising their triumph on their chariot’s lead horse.

Side One

Horus: Strong Bull Appearing in Thebes, Two Ladies: Enduring of authority, similar to Re in the sky, Golden Horus: Sacred of appearances, ground-breaking of solidarity, King of U. what’s more, L. Egypt: Menkheperre, Chosen of Re. He made (it) as his landmark to his dad Amon-Re, Lord of the positions of authority of the Two Lands, he raised.

Side Two

Horus: Tall of White Crown, darling of Re, King of U. what’s more, L. Egypt and Two Ladies: The person who makes Maat show up in brilliance, cherished of the Two Lands Menkheperre, the picture of Re, master of triumph who chains each land, who makes his outskirt (stretch) to the leader of the land (the extraordinary south) and the marshlands of Naharina (the outrageous north in Syria).

Side Three

Horus: Strong bull, cherished of Re, King of U. what’s more, L. Egypt Menkheperre, the one that Remade incredible, the one Atum raised when he was a kid (when he was being weaned) in the two arms of Neith, mother of the god, with the goal that he might be above all else who holds onto all grounds for a long span, ruler of the Sed celebration.

Side Four

Horus: Strong bull, showing up with Maat, King of U. what’s more, L. Egypt Menkheperre, conceived of Re, the person who crossed the Great Circle of Naharina (the Euphrates) in valor and triumph at the leader of his military, making incredible butcher.

The Obelisk is put on a marble platform which is from the fourth century AD, painstakingly put on four bronze 3D squares to appropriate the substantial weight. On four sides of the marble base, there are scenes from the Hippodrome with friezes of the Byzantine sovereign Theodosius I with his family, his court, onlookers, chariot races, merriments, erection work of the monolith and so on. There are additionally two engravings on the marble base, in Latin, and Greek.

Importance of Obelisk Theodosius for Istanbul

In its unique setting, the pillar and its base would have just been seen from a separation in the seating of the Hippodrome and now and again clouded by chariots hustling past. While its accurate area in the Hippodrome is obscure, it is conceivable that the pillar denoted the focal point of the Hippodrome. Besides, it is conceivable that the kathisma was legitimately before the monolith, along these lines in the middle too.

The specific situation of the pillar base appears to represent the language of the engravings: as Latin was the magnificent language, it was arranged towards the ruler and his court on the southeastern side, while the carnival groups, as agents of the nearby Greek-talking populace, confronted the Greek engraving on the northwestern side. The direction of the reliefs on each side maybe identifies with the particular delineations too.

Every one of the four reliefs is balanced, unique, and hieratic, stressing Theodosius and the individuals from his line. The age and status of the focal figures, for instance, are shown by their size. The sovereign’s focal situation of the ruler, along the frontality of the pictures of the watchmen, detainees, and onlookers around him, recommends a stylized expectation for the reliefs. A comparable portrayal of Theodosius and his court can be found in the Missouri of Theodosius.

The organization for royal portrayal grew before, as found in the oratio and largitio enrolls in the Arch of Constantine, and proceeded with later, as found in the mosaics of Justinian and his escort in San Vitale in Ravenna. These reliefs, at that point, can be seen as a fantastic partner to the late Roman panegyrics, conveyed before the head at state events.

The magnificent and triumphal character of the monolith is likewise fortified on each side of its base, subsequently stressed the request and flourishing brought by supreme guidelines. This was especially significant after the Goths’ destruction of the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. The alleviation of Theodosius holding the triumph wreath confronted the royal court, suggesting that all victors are reliant on Theodosius as the provider of triumph and its prizes.

The cosmological noteworthiness of the monolith and its carnival setting additionally can be found in these reliefs. Similarly, as the astronomical request is spoken to in the Hippodrome, so the magnificent request is spoken to on the reliefs, which focal point of the head Theodosius.

Latin Inscription (East Side)







Once it was difficult to conquer me, I was ordered by one man to obey the serene masters and to carry their palms, once the tyrants had been overcome. All things yield to Theodosius and his eternal descendants. Thus I was mastered and overcome in three times ten days and raised towards the summit of the winds, under governor judge Proclus.

Greek Inscription (West Side)

On the west side the same inscription is repeated in Byzantine Greek, but this time it says that the re-erection took 32 days, not 30!






This column with four sides which lay on the earth, only the emperor Theodosius dared to lift again its burden; Proclus was invited to execute his order, and this great column stood up in 32 days.

Proclus (or Proculus) was “praefectus urbi”, a Roman official appointed by a magistrate or the emperor for a fixed period and a special task, who governed in Constantinople between 388-392 AD. This data helps us to identify several people; for example, the “eternal descendants” of Theodosius must be his sons Honorius (6 years old) and Arcadius (13 years old) at the time of Obelisk’s erection in 390 AD. You can notice that the word “Proculus” on the last line of the inscription has been erased and restored because in 392 he lost Theodosius’ trust and was executed, but 4 years later his name was “cleared” thus re-written on the pedestal.

Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I love Istanbul. I have been to 10 different countries. Istanbul is in the top 3 cities. I like to play soccer too :)

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