The translation of Constantinople from Byzantine to Ottoman, as revealed by the Lorck Prospect of the city

Nigel Westbrook, Rene Van Meeuwen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


The 16th century Prospect of Constantinople, drawn around 1562 by the Danish artist Melchior Lorck, depicts a prospect of the Constantinople peninsula, as viewed from the northern shore of the Golden Horn – a city that, on the surface, appears to show very little of its Byzantine past. The skyline is dominated by the great Süleymaniye and Fatih mosques among many others, while to the left, the Topkapı Palace rises on what had been the acropolis of Byzantion, then from the fifth century probably the Forum of Leo.
It will be argued, however, that the Prospect, the most accurate graphical record of the city at this time, can tell us a great deal about the pre-Ottoman city, while allegorizing the early modern cultural exchange between East and West. Extending the planimetric analysis of Wulzinger (1932), in this paper we utilize our 3D digital analysis to identify elements of Lorck's drawing in relation to a virtual topography, and thus to reconstruct localized sections of the 16th century city, including otherwise unknown topographical locations and structures known only through textual references. We further argue for a less drastic transformation of the post-Conquest city than the Prospect may initially suggest.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationByzantine Culture in Translation
EditorsBronwen Neil, Amelia Brown
Place of PublicationLeiden, The Netherlands
ISBN (Electronic)9789004349070
ISBN (Print)9789004348868
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameByzantina Australiensia
ISSN (Print)0725-3079


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