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June 25, 2011

Istanbul’s Golden Glow

by quaesitor

Just 3 nights in Istanbul hasn’t given a huge amount of time to see sights but I’ve had a few hours in between meetings. Managed to get to the old Chora Monastery (the most important remaining Byzantine church in the city, after the Hagia Sophia) and the vast Basilica Cisterns.

These cisterns were built in the 6th century by the emperor Justinian I, just round the corner from the Hagia Sofia. They are stunning, and refreshingly cool after the blazing heat of the Istanbul midday.

Byzantine art is famous for its lavish use of gold and these Chora mosaics are no exception. It’s astonishing how this has survived, despite being a mosque since the Ottoman invasion of 1453. It was declared a museum in the 50s.

In the various rotunda ceilings, there are mosaics of Jesus’ genealogy. Below right is the genealogy of 24 descendants from Adam.


Click here to see the whole set.


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