When Constantine declared his new capital he had also decided that his city was going surpass Rome in architecture and glamour. He started building Church of Hagia Sophia, the Church of Holy Apostles , several forums, public buildings and decorated the city by bringing the Calydonian boar and the serpentine column from Delphi, to name a few. While the remodeled Constantinople forums and roads were bearing traces of Roman influence , Constantine made sure that people knew ; his was a Christian Empire . All churches had characteristics and touches Byzantine architecture and were decorated inside with Christian symbols , crosses, relics and icons. During his reign he also send his mother Empress Helena to Jerusalem to open churches and agencies to help the poor and to spread Christianity. According to some writers during her trip to the Holly Land , Helena was shown three graves which possibly had the remains of three crosses used at the crucifixion of Jesus.*By a miracle the right grave was revealed to Helena and she brought pieces of the cross, two nails of Christ's passion , the spear that pierced Christ's side, a bread baskets with bread crums,all supposedly belonging Christ, back to Constantinople some time after 312 A.D.
Emperor Constantine who claimed to rule by divine and considered himself a saint wanted to save any symbol relating to Christianity and saints, prophets and even pagans till eternity. Along with the pieces of cross, nails , spear, bread basket of Christ his mother brought back , an adze Noah supposedly used to build the ark with, a spikenard Mary Magdalena supposedly anointed Jesus' feet, a rock belonging to Moses , the Palladium of Troy, the wooden icon of Athena and the sun ray's of Apollo's crown were immured in the base of the hooped column at his forum.
Here at Constantine's forum all emperors were to celebrate their triumphs , people gathered inside the forum to discuss politics, day to day life and business .Years and centuries passed by , people came and left, Roman Empire was replaced by the Ottomans and the latter with Turkish Republic. The Forum had several face lifts and then most of it was gone with time except the Road of Mese and the Hooped Column remained.
The Burnt Column is covered and being reconstructed now and the architects verify the existence of 11 by 11 meters long and 2,5 meter high foundation under the earth level. Inside this foundation there seems to exist a completely sealed and enclosed cell, 1x2 meter in measure.**
Are the fragments of the "True Cross" along with the other objects still in this cell ?All historical and physical evidence points to the existence of some items in this cell. Whether the remains of these objects and the cross are the real ones, we will never know. I guess Constantine's wish to keep these objects till eternity is still on. The secret continues .
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HAZERFEN ÇELEBİ'S FLIGHT
HAZERFEN AHMET ÇELEBI'S FLIGHT
Hazerfen Ahmet Çelebi's legendary flight from the Galata tower in the Pera district of Istanbul, to the Asiatic shore Üsküdar, was told by Evliya Çelebi, the famous Turkish writer and traveler of seventeenth century. Both the writer and his legendary aviator have the title " Çelebi" in front of their name, which roughly translates to "Gentleman ", commonly given to knowledgeable and respectable people of the era. The writer, Evliya Çelebi was a world traveler, a Turkish Marco Polo, if you will, who always exaggerated what he had seen. One can compare Evliya Çelebi, to Hans Christian Andersen, not necessarily to his travelogues but rather to his famous fables or marchen". His writings are very colorful and informative but whether one should believe the fable is up to the individual.
Hazerfen Ahmet Celebi lived in the seventeenth century Istanbul during the times of Sultan Murat IV. He first practiced his flight using wings of an eagle from top of a pulpit in Okmeydani which was an open field practice area for archery , where south west winds helped arrows find their distant targets. After eight or nine tries, Ahmet Çelebi decided it was time to be the first man to fly with his own man made wings. Not only was he going to be the first man to fly, but also the first man to fly from one continent to the other. You see, the ancient Genoese Tower of Galata is situated some 205 ft above the ground level and 320 ft above the sea level on a hill on the European side of Istanbul. The Doğancilar square of Üsküdar on the other hand where he landed is across the sea some two miles away on the Asian site, and about 39 feet above the waters of Marmara.
Sultan Murat watched the successful flight from one of his mansions at the Seraglio Point across Galata at the ancient city. The south west winds helped Hazerfan Çelebi ( Gentle and wise man of thousand sciences), to land at Doğancilar square, nobody knows how many minutes later after he let himself go from the tip of the Galata tower.
According to Evliya Çelebi, Sultan Murat first granted Hazerfen Evliya Çelebi a sack of gold coins , then thinking that this man can be dangerous, exiled him to Algiers where he eventually died.
Non of this information has been recorded in history books. Nevertheless, Hazerfen is considered a legend in Turkish aviation history and his name is given to the third airport in Istanbul, just like the second airport is named after the first female Turkish pilot, Sabiha Gökçen.*
* International Airport of Istanbul is named after Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey.
LEGEND OF LEANDERS TOWER
The Maiden's Tower, or better yet the little island she is situated on, not only witnessed the rise and fall of the Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman Empires during her 2400 or more years of existence, and not only was she used and abused for several purposes by her owners as described above ;but also she was the subject of several myths, legend and stories .
One such legend is about the love story between Hero and Leander( Leandros) which gave the Tower one of her two names; Leander's Tower . Just like The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra left her tiny foot steps in the sands of several beaches in the Aegean and Mediterranean at which numerous beaches are named after her, and just like the Mount Olympus can be found on both sides of the Anatolian and Greek peninsula on several mountains, the light house and the story of Hero and Leander was attributed to at least to another peninsula which is in close vicinity to Bosphorus on the south end of the Marmara Sea at Hellas point or Dardanelles.
This legend ,as told by Musaios who lived well before Homeros, says there existed a small town named Abydos in the Dardanelles on the Anatolian side of the straits. On the other side of the straits, there was another small town named Sestos, build by the ancient Miletos in 700.B.C.There at the tower of Sestos lived a beautiful young priestess of Aphrodite named Hero. On the other side of the straits in Sestos , lived a handsome young man named Leander , who saw Hero during an Aphrodite ritual and immediately fell in love with her. Every night , Leander would swim across the straits to be with her and Hero would light a torch on top of the tower to guide her lover to the shore.
During a long and warm summer, the two lovers met every night and Hero,the priestess of Aphrodite who was the goddess of pure love, allows Leander make love to her. One evening at the end of the summer a storm arises, waves are high and the waters of straits become ice cold. Leander jumps into the water to meet his lover on the other side of Hellaspoint. Nobody knows what happened that night, whether the strong winds extinguished the fire of the torch Hero was holding and Leander loses his way, or the waves are to strong for Leander and as a result he drowns that night. According to the story, the next morning Hero finds her lovers body on the shores of Sestos and being so distraught, she throws herself from the tower and dies .
It is very likely that this old legend as told first by Musaios happened at the straits of Dardanelles and the tale was later on passed on by the Byzantines to the straits of Bosphorus and attributed to the tower there, naming it the Leander's Tower.
The other legend giving the tower her other name: The Maiden's Tower is about a King or a Sultan and how he tries to protect his beloved daughter. Nobody knows who the King or Sultan was or what the daughters name was for that matter, but it is said that she was beautiful and barely 18 years old. The story goes that one day before the girls eighteenth birthday her father assembles all the fortune tellers in his palace and asks them to prophesize his daughters future. One of the oracles tells the father that his daughter will die on her eighteenth birthday by a snake bite. Alarmed by this prophesize , the Sultan orders a tower to be build in the middle of the Bosphorus , knowing that there isolated from the main land no snake can reach his daughter. No one but the Sultan is allowed to visit the princess on the island . On the day of her eighteenth birthday the Sultan brings her a basket full fruit and grapes as a birthday gift. As the princess tries to taste some of her favorite grapes a tiny snake emerges from the bottom of the basket bites her and she dies as the fortune teller had predicted. According to some, the daughter then is put in an iron casket and buried under the dome of Haghia Sophia.