Palaces, Aquaducts, Water cisterns

If the Byzantine palaces have not remained to the current day it is because they were not protected as the religious buildings were. Although the palaces were very important examples of Byzantine architecture, none of these buildings are standing today. The excavation which began at the Sultanahmet Park and which extended all the way down to the sea at Cankurtaran has only uncovered a courtyard with a mosaic floor.

Another ruin of a Byzantine palace is the Blakhernai Palace which was referred to as the Tekfur Palace by the Ottomans. Any remains that have been found in the Istanbul area are too incomplete, however, to give us any clear and valuable information. The Bryas Palace ruins in Bostanci do have the largest vaults available to us, and the upper ruins of the palace do provide us with some clues relating to this style of architecture. Researchers who have studied these remains agree that the architecture of the Byzantine palace resembles that of the palace architecture of the Abbasids and the Emevi.

One of the most important types of Byzantine architecture to survive to this day are the aqueducts and water cisterns. The Valens Aqueduct, called the Bozdogan Kemeri in the Ottoman period, is a valuable piece of architecture which is still intact today. This aqueduct extended from Fatih to Suleymaniye and gathered water from various sources along its route from Thrace to Istanbul. One of the most important still surviving cisterns is the Yerebatan Saray (underground palace, the Basilica Cistern built by Emperor Justinian. This cistern covers an area of approximately ten thousand square meters. There are 336 marble columns inside this cistern.

Even if the art of sculpture was not as important to the Byzantines as it was to the Romans, it still played a very significant role in the artistic life of the Byzantines. There are numerous statues and busts of Byzantine emperors and other government officials on exhibit at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum and at other museums in the world. The base upon which the obelisk at Sultanahmet Square rests is a relief of the Emperor Theodosius the Great, and the relief also pictures leading members of the place,and individuals from the military and the common people watching the ceremonies held at the Hippodrome. One of the other unique characteristics of art in the Byzantine period was the advancement reached in decorated handicrafts. Unfortunately, however, the wide and busts of Byzantine emperors and majority of these artifacts were plundered by the Crusaders during their campaign in Anatolia.

The fired pottery, candle holders, and seals which were used in every-day life, plus the ornaments of silver and gold have been admired both by researchers and by experts in these fields. Numerous articles remaining from the Byzantine period are exhibited in many of the museums Istanbul and there are many examples of hand-written documents of the Byzantine to the found in the library of the Topkapi Museum



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