The only culture that allows me to understand myself is one that is starkly different from my own. This was the realisation I came to last night as I was writing about something completely unrelated. Advertisements
The Basilica Cistern has a much more poetic name in Turkish – Yerebatan Sarnıcı or “Cistern Sinking Into Ground”.
As you come up from Gülhane Park on your way to Topkapı Palace there is a building tucked off to the right that to me at first glance looked very unassuming.
Kariye Müzesi, also known as The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, is one of the oldest and most important religious landmarks of Byzantine Constantinople. What makes it so special is its mosaics and frescos which not only represent 14th century Byzantine art at it’s finest but also at its most experimental. Between 1315 and 1316 Kariye underwent major restoration and renovation work thanks to Theodore Metochites who was not only a statesman and a scholar but also a patron of the arts. He had Kariye decorated with brilliant mosaics and frescos that were part of a new type of artistic expression known as Paleologan Mannerism. There was a new appreciation for the purely decorative qualities of painting and meticulous attention was given to details. Byzantine artists were encouraged to include their own observations of the world in their artistic work and figures that we were once austere and stiff became more dynamic, depicting various types of movement. There was also a shift in the conventional use of perspective.