Visualizing the Valens Aqueduct in Early Modern Istanbul

Sarıkaya Işık, Fatma
Yoncacı Arslan, Pelin
The fourth-century Valens Aqueduct has sustained its continuous operation of supplying water to Istanbul, to the Byzantine and Ottoman capital city. The intra-mural water bridge is a monumental link between the Third and the Fourth hills occupied by the two most prestigious Ottoman complexes, and for centuries, it prevailed as the main water distribution point to the higher grounds of the city. Thus, the Aqueduct of Valens figured prominently in the early-modern depictions of the city. Artists illustrated the water structure in city maps, bird’s eye views, miniatures, portolan atlases, and panoramic depictions starting from the fifteenth century. Indeed, representations of Istanbul’s topographical and symbolic transformations never failed to include the aqueduct as a prominent feature of the urban landscape. As early as the fifteenth century, the Byzantine monument was embedded in the Ottoman historical topography and the collective memory of Constantinople/Istanbul. To analyze the ways in which this water infrastructure was represented in the following three centuries, this paper presents a selection of city depictions that reveal the aqueduct’s turbulent status and changing reception in Early Modern Istanbul. The investigation uncovers alterations in the reception, which translated it from a water-conveyer into a resilient monument in the Ottoman capital.


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Citation Formats
F. Sarıkaya Işık and P. Yoncacı Arslan, Visualizing the Valens Aqueduct in Early Modern Istanbul. 2022.