Column of Marcian

This column, commemorating the reign of emperor Marcian (r. 450-457), is located on the fourth hill of Constantinople, on what it would have been the northwest branch of the Mese. It was in the middle of a forum and was a short distance from the Church of the Holy Apostles (now Fatih Mosque). It survives in fairly good condition. The Latin inscription on the column’s pedestal indicates that it was erected by Tatianus, the prefect of the city from 450 to 452. 

The column is approximately 10 meters high and made of granite from Syene (Aswan, Egypt). It is surmounted by a mutilated Corinthian capital which bears an impost block with eagles in the four corners. The column originally supported a statue of Marcian. The pedestal is decorated on the east and west sides with a Christogram inscribed in a wreath and the south side with a cross within a wreath. The north side bears the dedicatory inscription along with two Nikai (Victories) bearing a shield (clipeus). Above these Victories a plain band of marble carries the inscription, originally of inserted bronze letters. These Nikai account for the Turkish name of the column, Kıztaşı (“maiden stone”). It has been argued that the Colossus of Barletta once was set on the column, though this has been disputed.

During the Ottoman Era, it was viewed as one of the many talismans of Istanbul. As Evliya Çelebi writes: “At the head of the Saddlers' Bazaar, on the summit of a column stretching to the skies, there is a chest of white marble, in which the unlucky-starred daughter of king Puzentin (Byzantius) lies buried; and to preserve her remains from ants and serpents was this column made a talisman.” Today it is at the center of a small square.

Also see Colossus of Barletta

Column of Marcian.jpg
Column of Marcian.jpg

Base Inscription


"See this statue of the emperor Marcian, and his forum, a work which the prefect Tatianus dedicated."

Column of Marcian.jpg

Engraving by W.H. Bartlett (1838)


Colossus of Barletta


Drawing by George Wheler (1682)


Photo of Kıztaşı during the Turkish coup of 1960

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The Byzantine Legacy
Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016