The Western Bank Of The Bosporus

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On the western bank of the Bosporus, just north of a sinuous waterway known by locals as the Golden Horn, stood a bustling Genoese colony called Pera. With merchants from Genoa, Venice and Tuscany overflowing its narrow streets, one could hardly tell that these Italian traders were in fact no less than eight hundred miles away from their Apennine homeland. As a town of itinerants, Pera of course hosted a great many places for lodging, and it was in the room of one such lodge where we would find our weary cartographer – a mid-aged man by the name of Cristoforo Buondelmonti.
The time: late fall, 1422.
Appearing in front of Cristoforo was a piece of creased paper, empty and trivial, yet the sole focus of his attention. He had received
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Prior to receiving the commission, Cristoforo had been traveling extensively in the Aegean Sea. Though born to an affluent Florentine family, he spent the last ten years mastering the Greek language and documenting Greek islands. Accompanying him on his trip to Constantinople was a Thessalonian fur trader and acquaintance named John Anagnostes, who offered to guide him through the city before leaving for the trading post in Crimea. “What lie ahead will forever linger in your mind.” John mysteriously stated as they arrived at the city by cart from the south.
Already Cristoforo could make out a wall that stretched along the horizon, which only grew in immensity as they drew closer. Its limestone blocks soaring into the sky, the Theodosian Wall (as John informed him) appeared far more imposing than any fortification he had witnessed in the West. When they approached its base, though, he soon noticed the heavy damage dealt to the rampart. “The Ottomans laid siege to the city this spring.” John said. “I heard they acquired cannons for the first time, but the defenders were able to fend off their assault after a prolonged battle.” While entering the Golden Gate, the main entrance to the capital, Cristoforo could not help but ponder the fashion of his mapping: should he emphasize the wall’s massive scale, or its wounded state? What exactly could be accomplished by either? … His thoughts, however, were cut short by the awesome view
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