Istanbul: City of Forgetting and Remembering
Starting with a wild taxi ride into town from Ataturk airport, Tillinghast takes his readers on a voyage of discovery through the storied city of Istanbul, known in Byzantine times as the 'Queen of Cities' and to the Ottoman Turks as the 'Abode of Felicity'. As comfortable talking about the distinctive and delicious Turkish cuisine as he is about Byzantine mosaics, dervish ceremonies, Iznik ceramics, Anatolian carpets, and the imperial mosques, Tillinghast illuminates Istanbul's great buildings with stories that bring Ottoman and Byzantine history to life and is adept at discovering both what the city remembers and what it chooses to forget. Easily overlooked mosaics in the church of Hagia Sophia yield stories of a Byzantine emperor who died playing polo while drunk and an empress with several husbands. From an obscure gravestone, the author brings to life the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, when the Doge of Venice, though over ninety and practically blind, led the assault on the city.