Seeing the Invisibles of the Historical Peninsula: Arendtian View of the Cistern of Aetius

Gunduz S. N., Birer E.

ART-SANAT, vol.15, pp.109-132, 2021 (ESCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.26650/artsanat.2021.15.0005
  • Journal Name: ART-SANAT
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.109-132
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The open cisterns that were built on the hills of Istanbul have been able to survive through centuries, beginning from the Byzantine period, and with certain changes in their function. Paradoxically, defining the cisterns as visible is not possible in today's Istanbul, despite their historical background. Accordingly, this hypothesis has been suggested based upon spatial reflections of Hannah Arendt's discourses on visibility in the public realm. Therefore, the purpose of the research is to investigate the reasons behind the facts that make the cisterns (Cukurbostans) invisible-while they are expected to be visible. Within the scope of this study, the Cistern of Aetius (Karagumruk Cukurbostani, Vefa Stadium today) has been chosen as a case study because of its close proximity to the Theodosian Walls and its location on the Mese (Divanyolu for Ottoman Empire). As the Arendtian perspective defines the visibility in public spaces, the selected cistern has been examined in terms of large and small scale contexts and historical and social contexts. The findings show that the cistern turned into a semi-public space, because a stadium is open only when there is a football match. On the other hand, the architectural shape of the stadium hides the 1600-year old walls of the cistern. Therefore, the cistern is not visible, both physically and perceptionally. Therefore, When the cistern becomes visible, it will be a new touristic destination in the Historical Peninsula.