Streets and Public Spaces in Constantinople

Streets and Public Spaces in Constantinople

By Albrecht Berger

Dumbarton Oaks Papers, No. 54 (2000)

Introduction: This paper will mainly address the question of whether Constantinople was planned and built with a regular street layout. The existence of such a layout has frequently been doubted. In fact, the surviving evidence is very scanty. We have only the trace of a single street, the Mese, longer than some hundred meters. Moreover, we should not forget that for a long time scholarship about Byzantine Constantinople was influenced by the appearance of Turkish Istanbul. The Islamic street system, with its irregular blind and winding alleys, was considered to be the symptom of a decadent culture, and since Byzantine culture itself was widely thought to be decadent, the Islamic layout, projected backward in time, served as a proof for the inferiority of Byzantine town planning compared to that of ancient Greece.

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