Here is a little gem and a blast from the past. John Julius Norwich (who wrote the excellent and accessible trilogy on the history of Byzantium) tells the dramatic story of the fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire, followed by the rise of the Ottoman Turks in the 15th Century. Using monuments in Istanbul to show the formidable artistic and intellectual achievements of the Byzantines, Norwich vividly describes the last scenes of Greek Orthodox Christianity from within the Hagia Sophia.
First broadcast on BBC 2 on 25 October 1967. Running time is 32 minutes 42 seconds
A ‘Did You Know’ (of course we do!) from the website – John Julius Norwich describes the calamitous scenes of the last progress of the sacred icons around Constantinople (Istanbul). ‘Icon’ is derived from the Greek word for image (eikon) and took on a special religious significance in Orthodox art. The tradition of painting the same, or similar, images of saints and holy people is meant to bring the artist and worshippers closer to the face of God. There were periods, known as iconoclasms, when icons were banned by Christians who believed that such images were heretical.
First posted on 20 September 2010.