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Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities

Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities is a three-part BBC documentary series presented by Simon Sebag Montefiore, tracing the sacred history of Istanbul. Known as the 'city of the world's desire', it's a place that has been the focus of passion for believers of three different faiths - Paganism, Christianity and Islam - and for nearly 3,000 years its streets have been the battleground for some of the fiercest political and religious conflicts in history.

Simon Sebag Montefiore charts the rise of Istanbul from pagan trading post to capital of three empires and two religions, becoming not only holy but the most coveted city in the world.

Episode 1 - From Byzantium to Constantinople
This episode uncovers the city's ancient Greek roots, maps its transformation into the imperial capital of a Christian empire by Emperor Constantine the Great and reveals how ecclesiastical clashes forced Eastern and Western Churches apart.

Episode 2 - From Constantinople to Istanbul
This episode explores modern Istanbul in search of the last desperate centuries of Christian Byzantium, in which the once glorious city was buffeted by enemies in both East and West, and yet still produced a golden artistic renaissance.

Episode 3 - Capital of a New Empire
Simon Sebag Montefiore looks at how Istanbul became Islam's most powerful city. Visiting the great mosques and palaces built by the Ottoman emperors, he tells the stories behind them - of royal concubines, murderous bodyguards and sultans both the powerful and the depraved.


Related Links
Istanbul - wikipedia
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