Course overview

Settled by the Greeks in the 7th century BC, the city which is now called Istanbul, became Emperor Constantine’s ‘New Rome’ in AD 330 and it was named Constantinople. In 1453 the city was overrun by Mehmed II and it became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The study day explores the rich architectural and artistic legacy left by both Byzantine and Ottoman rulers in a city which was shaped by being for centuries the meeting point of Europe and Asia.

Course description

We shall first examine the remains of the Roman city, founded by the emperor Constantine, among which are the Hippodrome and the Basilica Cistern. Next, we shall focus on the rich Christian heritage left by the Byzantine empire such as the churches of Hagia Sophia and the Church of St Saviour in Chora with their splendid mosaic decorations. This will be followed by a study of masterpieces of the Ottoman period such as the Topkapi Palace, for nearly four centuries main residence of the sultans, the imperial architecture of Sinan and the Blue Mosque. Throughout reference will be made to the cultural, religious and political context in which artworks were created.

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