Mehmed Paša Sokolović's Fountain

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Quick Summary

Location
44°49'26"N
020°26'57"E
Country
 Serbia
Categories
  • Check Me Please
  • Nature
Rating
Take me there!

Description

Mehmed Paša Sokolović's Fountain (Serbian: Чесма Мехмед-паше Соколовића, romanized: Česma Mehmed-paše Sokolovića) is an Ottoman era fountain in Belgrade. It is located next to the Defterdar's Gate near the northwestern wall of the Upper Town of Belgrade Fortress. Evliya Çelebi states that the fountain was erected in 1576/77, during the lifetime of Grand Vizier Меhmed Paša Sokolović and it is his only surviving endowment in Belgrade. The precise position of the fountain does not appear in any cartographic sources until the 17th century. The earliest sketch dates back to a plan from the National Library in Paris from the early 17th century, in which the fountain was presented as a rectangular structure with three free sides.

Location

The drinking fountain is located at the remains of the inner rampart, next to the cobblestone path which leads through the Defterdar's Gate into the Lower Town. It is situated opposite of the Clock Gate and its one side is bricked in the rampart behind it.

History

Out of the once numerous Belgrade fountains, only this one remains standing to this day. However, sharing the destiny of the fortress and following in its transformations, this fountain's shape is somewhat altered. The only mention of this fountain from the 16th to the 18th century, was by Evliya Çelebi, who in 1667 mentions it located in a trench around the Narin kale (central fort). The only western source that mentions this fountain is Gerhard Cornelius Van Den Driesch who visited Belgrade in 1719. He mentions a drinking fountain in the Upper Town being supplied by water from an hour's walk away.The fountain was buried until 1938 when the first conservation work was done on the object. Additional works were done in 1960. During the archaeological excavations in 1979 the façade with the completely preserved decorative stone slabs was discovered, so as the stone trough. Third side was reburied until the fountain was thoroughly examined in October 2015.

Architecture

The fountain has a rectangular basis 7.5 m (25 ft) in length and 6.3 m (21 ft) in width. In the inside there is a vaulted reservoir of an ellipsoid base which connected to the old Ottoman era water supply. The existing vaulted channel, leaning against the fourth, north-eastern side of the fountain connects to the Austrian era water supply constructed at some time between 1719 and 1739. The entrance to the reservoir through a vault next to the fountain was probably also constructed at that time. The exterior consists of properly processed limestone blocks. In the authentic form, all three free standing façades of the fountain were decorated, and water pipes were placed on them. In the lower part there was a plinth 0.7 m (2 ft 4 in) high, whereas in the upper zone, at 3.9 m (13 ft) height there was a semi-circular cornice. The former appearance of the façade above this cornice is unknown. The preserved, lateral south-east façade of the fountain was decorated with a niche, around 0.35 m (1 ft 2 in) deep, ending in a Saracen arch. The front south-west façade, being the main façade, was the most representative in decoration. It was decorated with three niches. The central niche was identical to the one on the south-east lateral façade and had a stone basin, but only the rear part in line with the niche was preserved. The central niche was flanked by two smaller, lateral, semi-circular niches, set up above the plinth and each one decorated with a stylized cypress.Меhmed Paša Sokolović's fountain has cultural, historical and architectural value as a representative and at the same time one of the rare preserved monuments of Ottoman architecture in Belgrade.

2017 reconstruction

A thorough renovation began in May 2017 and was to finish by October, but the deadline is later moved to 2018. A 20 m (66 ft) long and 2 m (6 ft 7 in) tall wall of the corten steel was added, for both the esthetic and static purposes. The benches were also nstalled. When the first pictures appeared, showing the steel fence and added downhill pathway ramp made of planks, the public reaction was loud and negative, perceiving the new additions as out of place and in collision with the architecture of the fortress.From the Institute for the protection of the cultural monuments it was replied that the new elements represent modern ideas, that each generation should leave its mark and that "taste is subjective, while the quality is measurable". They also added that the new objects clearly show that they are not part of the fortification, so "the visitors won't be deluded". Unlike the modernist interventions around it, the fountain itself was restored using stones with the characteristics as closer to the original as possible.During the digging, several archaeological discoveries were made. Remnants of the Roman castrum (from the 3rd century AD), two urns from the Bronze Age and remains of the Neolithic object were discovered. All the findings were conserved and buried again.
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