My forthcoming novel begins in the Istanbul of the 1630’s. Murad IV is Sultan. Coffee and alcohol are evil, and their consumption is punishable by death or worse. Mina, a slave girl captured by Ottoman troops in Hungary, tries to escape after years of captivity.
She kept her head down, but her mind was alert to the people and sounds around her, especially for the distinctive sounds of soldiers and their swords. The city was shutting down for the night. Stopping at the intersection where the Grand Bazaar ended and the Beyazit Mosque formed a barrier to the park beyond, Mina looked backward down the boulevard and gasped at the beauty of the Aya Sofya. Minarets jutted like spears of light into the dark sky, the circular dome was lit by a thousand lamps, the square perimeter dotted with more, and she knew that even this impressive display would be nothing when compared to the Night of Power as three thousand slaves would set afire twenty thousand oil lamps and all of Istanbul would witness the power and might – and the humility, she thought, remembering how she and her fellow captives were incessantly reminded of the humility – of Allah’s greatest servant, Sultan Murad IV.
Old maps of Istanbul, Anatolia, Cappadocia, Armenia — and beyond — have been critical to my novel. Here are a few maps of the city known by many names through the ages: Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul, Stamboul, and the Sublime Porte. For more maps, a good starting point is the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but three years of research have yielded many other troves of digital mapping deliciousness. Leave me a comment if you’d like me to post them for you…
Update: Scroll down for the maps. But first, a few links in response to a comment asking about the historic architecture of Istanbul.
- Byzantium 1200
- German Archaeological Institute, Istanbul Department
- University of Washington, Silk Road Seattle – maps of Istanbul and more!
- Explore Istanbul
- Ottoman Web Site – Places
- Istanbul Guide
- Turkish Cultural Foundation
- Ottoman Traders Guild
- Library of Congress: Turkey
Update: Cartography web sites. Not all of these sites contain maps of Istanbul, but I’ve found that one resource often leads to another. In my research phase, I had some very specific goals; and although I bookmarked most of the places I found, I didn’t (couldn’t) review every site thoroughly.
- David Rumsey Map Collection
- Harvard Map Collection
- Map History
- Maps of War
- Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection
- Bodleian Libary Map Room
- Turkey in Maps – 16th and 17th Century
- Old Maps Online
- Maps of Asia Minor, the Caucasus, and Neighboring Lands
Update: Documents. A collection of old and new documents describing Istanbul.
- Pera_Galata 1 – A Short History, Urban Development Architecture and Today. The Bulletin of the Istanbul Technical University VOLUME 55, NUMBER 1
- Morphological Evaluation in Urban Design of Istanbul Historical City, Omer Devrim Aksoyak, 2009
- Constantinople_Old_and_New by Harrison Griswold Dwight, 1915
- The_walls_of_Constantinople by Bernard Granville Baker, 1910
- Constantinople, by William Holden Hutton, 1900
- In_and_Around_Stamboul, by Mrs. Edmund Hornby, 1858