Standing in the outer courtyard of the Topkapi Palace, on the edge of Sarayburnu, is the Gotlar Sütunu—Column of the Goths. Surrounded by trees and ordinary park benches, one may pass by this structure without a second thought or glance. Most are unaware that this column may be one of the oldest Roman monuments in Istanbul.
It’s assumed from the Latin inscription on its pedestal that the column was created to commemorate a Roman victory against the Goths. However, whether this occurred during the reign of Claudius II or Constantine I is still a matter of debate.
Either way, it appears to have been constructed during the late Imperial period, around the 2nd or 3rd century. The column was carved out of a single block of Proconnesian marble. Its head ornament was designed in Corinthian style, adopting an eagle motif. According to the sign next to the monument, it stands around 60 feet (18.5 meters) tall.
The column is still in great condition, but according to John Lydus, 6th century Byzantine historian, the head once bore a bust of Tyche, the Greco-Roman goddess of fortune. It’s believed that it was later removed by Christians, who may have deemed it inappropriate to keep the sculpture of a pagan deity.
Know Before You Go
The column stands on the northern edge of Gülhane Park, about a 15 minute walk from the Topkapi Palace