Great Istanbul
Slide
Let your self experience a great city where the Continents meet.


Latest News

Islamic Arts museum

Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum is re-opened after restorations.

Museum Pass

You can buy the "Museum Pass" for foreigners which is valid for 3 and 5 days in various museums of Istanbul.

Museums open 7 days

The museums in Istanbul will operate 7 days a week, except Topkapi Palace.


More News

Egyptian Obelisk

Egyptian Obelisk in Istanbul - click to enlarge The Obelisk of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmosis III in Istanbul's Sultanahmet Square was originally erected in year 33 in his reign (15th century BC) at the temple of Karnak, on the occasion of his second jubilee. It once stood with its pair to the south of the Seventh Pylon flanking the temple's doorway. In the old times obelisks were always erected in pairs.

It's a one-piece (monolith) pink granite obelisk carved in Aswan. Originally it was over 30 meters (95 feet) tall and weighting around 380 tons, today only 19 meters (65 feet) left of it. The obelisk was brought from Karnak to Constantinople by emperor Theodosius I in 390 AD, in order to decorate the Hippodrome. It's the oldest monument that you can see in Istanbul.

On each side of the obelisk there is a standing god holding the hand of the king and extending to him the sign of life. On the top of each side there is a scene of Thutmosis III making offerings to the god Amon-Ra, and below the scene there is a single column of hieroglyphs. Each writing begins with a list of the king's titles. The inscription basically celebrates Thutmosis III's victory crossing of the Euphrates River in Syria (Great Circle of Naharina) in 1450 BC. Thutmosis III is referred as "Lord of Jubilees" on the obelisk which mentions "Crossing the Great Circle of Naharina in valor and victory at the head of his army, making great slaughter... Lord of Victory who subdues all lands, establishing his frontier at the Beginning of the Earth [the extreme south] up to the Swampy Lands of Naharina [the farthest north]...."

Side One

hieroglyphs on the Egyptian Obelisk - click to enlarge

Horus: Strong Bull Appearing in Thebes, Two Ladies: Enduring of kingship, like Re in the sky, Golden Horus: Sacred of appearances, powerful of strength, King of U. and L. Egypt: Menkheperre, Chosen of Re. He made (it) as his monument to his father Amon-Re, Lord of the thrones of the Two Lands, he raised….

Side Two

hieroglyphs on the Egyptian Obelisk - click to enlarge

Horus: Tall of White Crown, beloved of Re, King of U. and L. Egypt and Two Ladies: The one who makes Maat appear in glory, beloved of the Two Lands Menkheperre, the image of Re, lord of victory who fetters every land, who makes his border (stretch) to the head of the land (the extreme south) and to the marshlands of Naharina (the extreme north in Syria)…

Side Three

hieroglyphs on the Egyptian Obelisk - click to enlarge

Horus: Strong bull, beloved of Re, King of U. and L. Egypt Menkheperre, the one that Re made great, the one Atum raised when he was a child (when he was being weaned) in the two arms of Neith, mother of the god, so that he may be king who seizes all lands for a long duration, lord of the Sed festival…

Side Four

hieroglyphs on the Egyptian Obelisk - click to enlarge

Horus: Strong bull, appearing with Maat, King of U. and L. Egypt Menkheperre, born of Re, the one who crossed the Great Circle of Naharina (the Euphrates) in valor and in victory at the head of his army, making great slaughter…

The Obelisk is put on a marble pedestal which is from 4th century AD, carefully placed on four bronze cubes in order to distribute the heavy weight. On four sides of the marble base there are scenes from the Hippodrome with friezes of the Byzantine emperor Theodosius I with his family, his court, spectators, chariot races, festivities, erection work of the obelisk etc. There are also two inscriptions on the marble base, in Latin and in Greek.

Latin inscription (east side)

DIFFICILIS QVONDAM DOMINIS PARERE SERENIS
IVSSVS ET EXTINCTIS PALMAM PORTARE TYRANNIS
OMNIA THEODOSIO CEDVNT SVBOLIQVE PERENNI
TER DENIS SIC VICTVS EGO DOMITVSQVE DIEBVS
IVDICE SVB PROCLO SVPERAS ELATVS AD AVRAS

Translation:
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 to his eternal descendents. 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!
KIONA TETPAΠΛEYPON AEI XΘONI KEIMENON AXΘOC
MOYNOC ANACTHCAI ΘEYΔOCIOC BACIΛEYC
TOΛMHCAC ΠPOKΛOC EΠEKEKΛETO KAI TOCOC ECTH
KIΩN HEΛIOIC EN TPIAKONTA ΔYO

Translation:
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 date 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.

Hope to see you soon in Istanbul.

Source: The Obelisks of Egypt by Labib Habachi (1984)