Istanbul Study Trip
From 19-25 October (2018) Webster Geneva students from the ‘Arts of the Middle East’ course engaged in an in-depth exploration of the major historical and cultural monuments of Istanbul. Led by their professor, Dr. Maryvelma O’Neil, they visited famous Roman structures – the Theodosian Cistern and the Hippodrome – as well as the majestic Byzantine Hagia Sophia.
Following the Fall of Constantinople in 1493 the city was dramatically altered by the Ottomans. The group toured the marvelous mosque complexes that went up in new neighborhoods – the Blue Mosque, the Suleymaniye Mosque, the Rustem Pasha Mosque. Ottoman power extended from the Topkapi Palace overlooking the Golden Horn to the empire. Students were especially intrigued by the extensive Harem which the sultans shared with their family, servants, concubines and black eunuch guards. We visited ceremonial rooms, pavilions, bathhouses, mosques and dormitories, most decorated with the geometric shapes and floral patterns on beautiful Iznik tiles and flowing calligraphic inscriptions.
Lavish Qurans, metalwork and carpets were among the highlights of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, home to a remarkable collection of Middle Eastern treasures and artifacts, spanning the 8th to the 19th century.
During the next few months students will digitally map key monuments and important historical events in Constantinople/Istanbul, guided by Taylor Rentschler, who is a study abroad computer and French major from Wyoming. Student Aya Abdullah, a refugee from Iraq, now on scholarship at Webster, was quick to recognize the value of this new expertise “to present data visually in multiple academic, professional and personal contexts.”