Byzantium 1200 is a non-funded project aimed at creating computer reconstructions of the Byzantine Monuments located in Istanbul, TURKEY as of year 1200 AD. This project is partly inspired by the model of the old city in Rome and the famous painting of Istanbul by Allan Sorell which are shown below.

Although the painting by Sorrell was a "not-so-very detailed" reconstruction of Istanbul in 11th century, the splendor of the city at that period it impressed me deeply.

Four years passed after I saw the model of Rome and during that time I worked on three-dimensional modelling and animation. By chance, while I was searching my old files I found a copy of the picture that impressed me years ago. An idea struck me and I decided to make a three-dimensional model of Istanbul. I chose 12th century since I guessed Istanbul was at the top of its beauty. Though I was not well-informed about the history of Istanbul, later, I found that my decision was not so bad.

In order to realize the project, it was compulsory to consult an expert. So, I called M. Ihsan Tunay who is one of the leading Byzantine experts in Istanbul. He was interested in the project and suggested me to consult historian Albrecht Berger and told that the best references about our project would be in the German Archeology Institute.

I visited Albrecht Berger on January of 1994 and showed him some photographs of the reconstructions of some buildings in Ephesus and Ostia I made some time ago.

Albrecht Berger told me that our knowledge about 12th century was limited and almost nothing is known about the houses that people lived. He suggested choosing another century. But he could not change my decision and we chose 12th century's last year 1200. One of the reasons we chose this year was that 1200 was a few years before the Crusade. The Crusaders who came to the city on 1204 devastated much of Istanbul.

Albrecht Berger was an ideal colleague because he was one of the best experts on Byzantine history, he was very much interested in computers and he even shared his unpublished ideas with me. On February of 1994, we began our project by reconstructing the Hippodrome.

Reconstruction sketches were rare and for some buildings we were only able to find ground plans. And sometimes we couldn't even find any data about them. I was on the roofs taking measures on a few occasions.

The reconstructions that existed were sketches or 2D plans. When I transferred them into the computer's three-dimensional environment they were not always matching and this was causing hard to solve problems.

Our work process with Albrecht Berger was as follows: First, we were taking photocopies of the plans and reconstruction sketches in the books. If those were not available, and the building was still erect, I would go and take measures of the building. Later, he marked up the additions or changes made after 1200 and I transferred the measures into computer by a CAD program . By revolving 360 around the model I formed a simple animation and showed it to him. Albrecht Berger, after watching the animation would make the necessary corrections by considering the suggestions I proposed for the three-dimensional problems and then the building would become final.

Up to now, I have finished three dimensional modeling of about 50 buildings from that era that were still standing or the ones that we had plans. Also, we have realized a three-dimensional reconstruction of the Hippodrome, the squares on various parts of the city and the monumental gates of those squares, the big columns, for the very first time.

After all the the reconstruction of the two big palace complexes and all the buildings except dwelling places (i.e. churches, the aqueduct etc.) are completed, by using the hypothetic street plans of that era, Byzantium style houses with different sizes will be added to the city model and the first part of the project will be finished.

I wish to thank Albrecht Berger - (Homepage of Albrecht Berger) without whom this project would not have been possible. All other text in this site is written by and © Albrecht Berger.

Copyright © 2004 Byzantium 1200