The book entitled ‘’Istanbul: Capital of empires’’ by renowned historian Stefanos Yerasimos tells us the story of the evolution of Byzantion (Byzantium), originally established as a greek colony, into the irreplaceable capital of empires. The story is accompanied by monumental buildings, myths and legends.
İstanbul’s history revived İstanbul… the capital of Eastern Mediterranean empires stretching from the Balkans to Northern Africa, the most populated, the richest, the biggest and the liveliest city of the Republic of Turkey. That is the city Stefanos Yerasimos tells us about in his book, “İstanbul, capital of Empires”. It is definitely more than a simple account on a city. Yerasimos engages us on an impressive historical journey via the description of İstanbul’s history. He offers the reader the traces of all the events, personalities, monuments and faiths which made İstanbul irreplaceable.
He provides us a closer understanding on the reasons of the choice of the city as their capital by various civilizations. The book starts with the establishment of Byzantion as a Greek colony. Then, the author narrates in a fascinating style, yet respectful of the academic research character of his work, how this colony grew into becoming Konstantinoupolis (Constantinople), capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, how it expanded to become İstanbul, the capital city of the Ottoman Empire; describes the story of the acquaintance of the city with the Ottoman and Islamic identity. Architectural particularities of the various monumental structures adorning the city, their history and the popular myths and legends surrounding them ornament the intertwined history of Byzantion, Constantinople and İstanbul together developing in a time span of 16 centuries. The reader witnesses the end of the Antique Age, the development of medieval Constantinople, admires the glory of the Ottoman Empire through the windows of the Topkapı Palace, discovers the origin of the cultural, religious and artistic characteristics representing the Ottoman civilization.
Published by ‘Tarih Vakfı Yayınları’ (History Foundation Publishing), the sale price of the 400 pages book by Stefanos Yerasimos is 150,- TL (Turkish Pounds).
Old friend Stefanos Yerasimos
Stefanos Yerasimos was one of the prominent historians portraying Turkey’s past and recent history with great accuracy. He was born on this soil. Architect, city planner and historian, Stefanos Yerasimos was born in 1942 in İstanbul. He lived mostly in France from1966 until his demise in 2005 and lectured at the ‘Université Paris VIII’. He served as the Director of the French Institute of Anatolian Studies in İstanbul from 1994 to 1999 and was Member of the Governing Board of the History Foundation from 1996 to 2000.
Yerasimos was the editor of various old travel accounts, including those of Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Jean Chardin, Pierre de Tournefort. He is the author of several books in French and Turkish languages such as De-meures Ottomanes en Turquie, Question d’Orient, İstanbul, la Mosquée de Soliman, Turkey in the Process of Underdevelopment, Turkish-Soviet Relations during the War of Liberation, The Constantinia and Hagia Sophia Myths, Nationalities and Borders, The Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East, Dinner Tables of the Sultans : Culinary Art of the Ottoman Court in the 15th And 16th Centuries and Suleiman’s Mosque.
This article has originally appeared in “Müze” Magazine, published quarterly with the contributions of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. We would like to thank TÜRSAB Museum Enterprises for sharing this piece with Istanbul Digital Platform followers.