Friday, November 30, 2012

Buondelmonti's Constantinople (1422)

Becket, November 30, 2012

When the Florentine monk and traveler Cristoforo Buondelmonti arrived to Constantinople sometime in the early 1420's, he probably found lodging in Pera, on the other side of the Golden Horn, across from the historic peninsula (Pera literally means across in Greek.)  Known as Beyoglu today, this was the area of the of the Genoese concessions at the time, and Buondelmonti must have felt pretty much at home among mostly Genoese, Venetians, Tuscans and Ragusans.

Buondelmonti drew what is now the oldest surviving map of Constantinople, and the only one we have preceding the 1453 fall of the city to the Ottoman Empire.  Not hard to see that our monk was impressed with the geography of the city, don't you think?  His map displays prominently, and rather accurately, the bodies of water of Constantinople: the Golden Horn on the upper part, the Bosphorus extending towards the top-right corner and the Sea of Marmara on the right.  On the left Buondelmonti depitcs the moat of the Theodosian Walls.  If you look a little up from the point where the moat reaches coast, you can recognize the Golden Gate, the main ceremonial door of the city (yes, actually that's what Frémont had in mind when he gave that name to the strait north of what is now San Francisco.) 


  1. Your site is most interesting and very informative! I just returned from Paris and was researching for a post I'm doing on the relationships between geology, politics, history and art, when I stumbled on your blog following an internet search. I'll be back...well done!