March 2010 Archives

Istanbul and Constantinople

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Good morning from Istanbul, where I am sitting on the terrace of a small but comfortable hostel between the Blue Mosque and the Küçük Ayasofya Camii (the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus, as once was. Built in the first few years of the reign of Justinian, which began in 527.)

I am here with a gaggle of Oxford Byzantinists, all grad students and faculty members, and our objective this week is to march ourselves around all the Byzantine sights we can see in the city, and to follow in the imperial footsteps from time to time, as laid down in the tenth-century Book of Ceremonies. I'll be doing my best to be a camera-wielding menace. I am really very curious to see what half of these sites actually look like today - whether anything can be seen of the Byzantine past, or whether it is all Ottoman past and/or Turkish present by now.

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