Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul, Turkey
The Milion Istanbul Reviews
Once the centre of the Byzantine Empire Oct 04, 2008
Do you know the feeling of just looking at something and then come home and try to figure out what it was; that was the feeling that I had when I saw a large standing stone near the Hagia Sophia.
The rock turned out to be yet a good story from the magnificent city of Istanbul. The rock was a part of an ancient mile-marker monument that was erected in the early 4th century AD when the city had its old name Constantinople.
The mile-marker was called The Milion, and it was the starting-place for measurement of distances for all the roads leading to the cities of the Byzantine Empire and had the same function as the Milliarium Aureum of Rome. It survived intact until at least the late 15th century and fragments of it were discovered again in the 1960s.
In the years 1967 and '68, following theoretical studies about the location of the monument and the demolition of the houses placed above it, excavations revealed some foundations and a fragment belonging to the building, which now is reerected as a pillar.
These remains could be positively identified as belonging to the Milion thanks to their vicinity to a part of bent Byzantine canalization. This seems to indicate the angle of the disappeared Mese as reported by the literary sources. The Mese was the main thoroughfare of the new city, and which at that point formed a bend.
The new building fulfilled the same role as the Milliarium Aureum in Rome; it was considered as the origin of all the roads leading to the European cities of the Byzantine Empire, and on its base was inscribed the distances of all the main cities of the Empire from Constantinople.
The monument was just east the Augustaeum, and was much more complex than its Roman counterpart. It can be described as a double triumphal arch surmounted by a dome, which was carried by four arches. It was crowned by the statues of Constantine and his mother Helena with a cross looking towards east between them.
Part of the Istanbul, Turkey October 2008 travel blog
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