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Justinian’s soaring edifice inspires the same awe today as it did in visitors a millennium ago who wondered if this were Heaven or Earth. Setting out on a tour of the city’s best-preserved Byzantine churches, Robert Ousterhout still senses an air of the miraculous in Ayasofya
Thanks to the musicologist and luthier Fikret Karakaya, our 21st-century ears can now enjoy the long-lost sounds of early Ottoman music. His quest to revive these authentic sounds has been lengthy and painstaking – not least because he had to reinvent the instruments, then learn to play them. By Caterina Scaramelli. Photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg
The Kirghiz are a semi-nomadic Turki-speaking people from the old Turkistan borderlands of China, old Russia and Afghanistan. Stalin, in a spirit of divide et impera, drew the borders of Kyrgyzstan, as he did with the other Soviet Central Asian republics, right across the ethnic divides, scattering the Kirghiz between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
Not all Byzantium is buried: in addition to its twenty-odd surviving churches and sundry ruined palaces and fortifications, if you look around any grand imperial mosque, you will inevitably find columns, capitals and other marbles borrowed from its Byzantine predecessor. Robert Ousterhout investigates.
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