Mağlova Kemer is an Ottoman aqueduct bridge of the Kırkçeşme Water Supply System completed in 1563. It was destroyed by a flood in the same year, after which it was restored by Mimar Sinan in 1564. While it has been called the “Aqueduct of Justinian”, it is completely an Ottoman structure.
This monumental aqueduct bridge, which crosses the Alibey Stream, is 258 meters long and 36 meters high. It has two tiers of arches, with 8 large and 8 small arches. It has a stairway on each side of the aqueduct leading to a passageway on the upper tier. While no traces of Byzantine construction remain, it is possible that Mimar Sinan originally used the foundations of a Byzantine aqueduct before Maglova Kemer was destroyed by a flood in 1563.
It is among of the greatest works produced by Mimar Sinan due to the architectural innovation it entails. Roman aqueduct bridges had vertical facades, and in the higher structures the thickness of the walls was reduced in stages. This type of construction often had problems in earthquake zones. Sinan’s aqueduct made some innovations to the design of aqueduct bridges. The thickness of the wall in the upper tier of arches of today’s Mağlova Aqueduct is 3.05 meters. It is highly unlikely for such a slender structure to resist horizontal forces such as earthquakes and wind. In order to enhance the stability of the aqueduct against horizontal forces, Sinan widened the piers in pyramid form and the result was a three-dimensional structure being both delicate and sturdy. It is partially submerged by water from the Alibey reservoir.
Drawing by W.H. Bartlett (1838)
The Longest Roman Water Supply Line by Kâzım Çeçen
Sinan’s Water Supply System in Istanbul by Kâzım Çeçen
Water Supply (Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection)