In Search of Constantinople

As someone studying Rome for decades, I thought, the ‘new Rome’ Constantinople must be in many respects similar like the ‘old’: One has a hard time to aviod more or less well preserved ruins of the imperial past all over the city. Well, it is not. One has to make considerable efforts to find scattered and often well hidden pieces of the ‘new Rome’ here and there. I should have been alerted when I saw a single (!) paper entitled “Corpus of Floor Mosaics of Constantinople” listing exactly a dozen examples.

Luckily, a newly published book saved not only a lot of time for preparations in this endeavour, but also provided me with a lot of additional information. It is not exaggerated to say that it opened a new horizon on both, the remains of the ancient city and its truely intriguing history. The books is well written and displays enormous and impressive erudition. It often presents the (scarce rests of) monuments in its Sitz im Leben, which shed also light on its usage and role for the imperial capital. Numerous maps support locating the monuments, which, however, could be more precise and sometimes also less errorous. If the book would provide some practical ‘hands on’ information (how to get there, whom to contact, etc.), it would be the perfect companion for an exploration of Constantinople. In the present form, however, one still need a ‘conventional’ travel guide (and a good data plan of mobile subscription) to navigate through the modern metropole. Despite the few shortcomings, this is a must have for everyone looking for the capital of the Byzantine Empire.

Ivanov, Sergey A.: In Search of Constantinople – A Guidebook through Byzantine Istanbul, and Its Surroundings. Kitap Yayinevi, Istanbul, 2022.