Constantinople: The End of an Era
Nothing golden lasts forever—and so was the Roman empire, which fell in 1453 to the Ottomans. The city then shifted into a brand new era in its long history, and so did the Aqueduct of Valens. The fall of Constantinople marked the end of Byzantine rule, and the start of the reign of the Ottoman Empire.
After the fall, Sultan Mehmed II took control of the city (from 1444-1481), and undertook the task to repair the city’s water supply, which needed an overhaul to support a growing population. He successfully connected the existing line with a new one emerging from the northeast of the city.
Thus, as the city plunged into periods great turmoil and restoration from the fifteenth to early seventeenth centuries, many of these key periods—such as the Fall of Constantinople and the Great Earthquake of 1509—were reflected in the life of the Valens Aqueduct. And as there came some stability in the city under Ottoman rule, the aqueduct slowly underwent some major repairs. This aqueduct is, and always has been, a sort of a “lieu de memoire.” Over the centuries, it has stood to represent the malleability of the world, of political regimes and of the whims of nature, and by the fall of the Roman empire in Constantinople, it was certainly this symbolic lieu de memoire.
Gamm, Niki. “Quenching Istanbul’s thirst with aqueducts and cisterns.” The Hurriyet Daily News, Nov. 1, 2014.
Ortaköylü, Doğa. “Longest single water supply line from the ancient world.” Accessed Nov. 3, 2016.
Valens Aquaduct. Istanbul 2010--European Capital of Culture, accessed Nov. 5, 2016.