CONSTANTINOPLE AND ITS ENVIRONS. 15
stretching from hill to hill, and seen in almost every direction. Its erection was the
completion of a singular prophecy: On the ramparts of Chalcedon was found a stone
with an occult incription, implying that " the walls of the city should bring water to Constantinople." To extend these walls across the sea, seemed altogether an impossibility,
and the oracular announcement was despised. But Chalcedon having incurred the resentment of the emperor, its walls were pulled down, the stones conveyed to Constantinople
for building, and, among other erections formed of them, was the aqueduct of Valens,
thereby accomplishing the oracle.
By means of this aqueduct, the waters were deposited in various cisterns; some open,
and some covered, so that the whole city was excavated into exposed or subterranean
reservoirs. One great inconvenience attended those that were exposed. The city and
vicinity of Constantinople abounded in storks ; they were supposed to convey serpents,
and drop them in the water, by which it was poisoned, and rendered fatal to those who
drank it. The celebrated impostor Apollonius of Tyana, who was reputed to work such
powerful miracles, was applied to, by the reigning emperor, for a remedy. By his
directions, a pillar called Pelargonium was erected, on the summit of which were three
storks fronting each other; and by this talisman the kindred birds were immediately
expelled the city, and the salubrity of the waters restored. To commemorate the event,
the following epigram was inscribed on the base of the pillar.
On sculptur'd column stands the mystic charm,
And guards the fainting citizens from harm.
Far fly the storks, to seek the distant wood;
And snakes no longer taint the wholesome flood.
These cisterns were afterwards filled up with earth, and are now converted into
gardens, where the storks, no longer the cause of evil, are invited to return. The Turks
evince a particular attachment for them, and erect frame-work like cradles on the tops of
their houses, which the birds inhabit and breed in.
Of the covered cisterns, but two remain. One is called Yere Batan Serai, or the " Subterranean palace," and is still filled with water. It resembles a vast subterranean lake, out
of which issue rows of 336 marble pillars, of various orders of architecture, supporting
an arched roof. The memory of this magnificent watering-palace was altogether lost;
the streets passed over it, and the houses above were supplied from it with water, while
the inhabitants knew not whence it came. After it had remained unknown to the Turks
since the capture of Constantinople, it was discovered by Gillius more than three
hundred years ago. A second time it fell into oblivion among this incurious people, till it
was searched for, and again found a few years since. It was formerly in total darkness,
but part of the wall has fallen down, and sufficient light is admitted to examine it, A
boat, or raft, is moored to one of the pillars, in which strangers are permitted to embark,
and explore its dim recesses; and marvellous stories are told by the Turks of the fatal
end of those bold adventurers.
The second cistern is no longer employed as a reservoir for water. It lies beneath
an open area in the vicinity of the Atmeidan, and is converted into a silk manufactory