December 25, 2011

‘Istanbul’s Colorful Treasures’ as Old as History Itself

A stunning coffee-table book curated by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO), “Istanbul’s Colorful Treasures from Byzantine Mosaics to Ottoman Tiles,” takes readers on a journey through the tumultuous history of Istanbul, touching on the rise and fall of two great empires and civilizations in a visually fluid exploration of the ancient art forms of tiles and mosaics.

İTO director Dr. Murat Yalçıntaş writes in the book’s foreword that mosaics and tiles, as two of Istanbul’s richest aesthetic assets, are as old as history itself.

A mammoth 340-pages long and perfect entertainment fodder for the wintery holiday, “Istanbul’s Colorful Treasures” details the foundations of a city that over the centuries has served as a thriving hub of cultural enrichment from arts and philosophy to language and architecture. Founded as Byzantium in the seventh century B.C., present-day Istanbul was renamed Constantinople in the year A.D. 330 when the Roman Emperor Constantine I moved his capital there from Rome.

Europe’s largest and wealthiest urban center throughout the Middle Ages, Constantinople – which remained the capital of the eastern, Greek-speaking empire for over a thousand years – was conquered in 1453 by 21-year-old Fatih Sultan Mehmet, marking the beginning of 470 years of prosperous Ottoman rule. A city characterized by its cosmopolitan population, Istanbul flourished as a potent cultural, economic, religious and administrative center until the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey on Oct. 29, 1923, and the selection of the Anatolian city of Ankara as the new state’s capital.

Yet today, in the 21st century, the legacy and heritage from two of history’s most dominant empires are omnipresent in the aesthetic of a city that continues to enchant locals and visitors with its romanticism and splendor.


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