Monday, 17 November 2008

Sailing to Byzantium

The Byzantine Empire was a superpower of the Middle Ages.

The city of Byzantium was re-founded by Constantine I in 330 AD as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city (re-named Constantinople) became a major commercial, cultural and religious centre. It controlled an empire that stretched around the Mediterranean, encompassing swathes of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

The empire finally came to an end in 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks.

The Royal Academy in London currently has a major exhibition on Byzantium that is well worth a visit. One word of advice. It gets crowded at the weekend, and many of the exhibits such as jewelry, coins, metalwork and icons are quite small and hard to see among the crowds. I recommend visiting during the week or getting there early at the weekend.

In connection with the exhibition, I'm posting a few photographs that I took in Byzantium/Constantinople/Istanbul. These are all shots of Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine church that became a mosque under the Ottomans, and which was subsequently turned into a museum under the secular Republic of Turkey.

Byzantium 330-1435
Until March 22, 2009
Royal Academy of Arts

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