Saturday, December 1, 2012

Buondelmonti's Constantinople 2

Becket, December 1, 2012

Strange to imagine that Buondelmonti would have seen the iconic Galata Tower when it was less than a century old.  Even stranger, that he would have seen it not as the freestanding iconic tower of today, but as a piece of a most elaborate defensive system.  Actually, his map describes with painstaking detail all the fortifications of Constantinople on both sides of the Golden horn.
The historic peninsula appears surrounded by tall walls regularly punctuated by towers.  On the Marmara side he shows several harbors.  The biggest one is the Harbor of Theodosious that you can recognize as the large blue stain where the Lycus river flows into the sea (by the way, that's present-day Yenikapi, the site of an enormous infrastructure undertaking going on right now.  In 2005 he excavations for this project uncovered extraordinary remains of the 4th century harbor.)  The wall turns around the peninsula and continues along the Golden Horn.  Then it turns at right angles inland as the double Wall of Theodosious.
On the Pera side, Buondelmonti shows a polygonal land wall that includes the Galata Tower.  The enclosed area is further divided by two walls running perpendicular to the coast, further protecting the Venetian and later Genoese enclaves (you can identify the Dominican church at the center.)

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