Friday, August 22, 2014

Tales from Turkey Part 4 'The walls of Byzantium'


Byzantium has even in its rich sounding name, a sense of mystery about it. Anyone who has read anything about Byzantium or the Byzantines themselves cannot fail to be impressed and at the same time disturbed by their history and customs.

Looking towards the European shore. Janissaries prepare to attack
The name has disappeared from maps and replaced by Istanbul but the Turks seem proud of its pre Islamic heritage as well as conquering it in the name of their religion.
The Sultan at a breach in the Asian shore walls
After more than 1,000 years of tumultuous history pre Ottoman, the giant city fell to the Turks in 1453 following a great siege. This is commemorated in the army museum with one of the most impressive panorama displays I have ever seen.
Notice the Imperial banner on the walls and infantry in foreground
Although more modern, it is easily a rival to the Waterloo panorama in terms of size and scope. It is not contained in a rotunda but rather in a great sweeping curve which must be over 100 feet in length.
Looking east on the Asian shore
The panorama is as combination of background painting of incredible size and detail set off by mannequins, cannons, trenches and equipment all in 3D lying in the foreground.
Carriage - less siege gun on the ground
Monster gun of the period outside the museum

It is best to let the panorama speak for itself so enjoy this wonderful piece of military art. In a further post on the siege and aspects relating to it I will show some wonderful artefacts as well pictures of the walls as they are today. The rebuilt sections are truly remarkable and the original undamaged sections even more impressive. To my mind the city is equal in splendour to Rome itself if not more impressive in many ways.

Next time, some wonderful models of the siege.

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