The story of how Constantinople flourished into greatness and then expired in terrible violence is one of the strangest and most moving stories I know. I wanted my son to have that story too.
IN 2014 I brought my history-obsessed son Joe to Istanbul. Joe had just turned fourteen and the trip was conceived as a kind of coming-of-age adventure.
We were there to immerse ourselves in the stories of the city's earlier incarnation as Constantinople, the lost capital of the eastern Roman Empire.
A thousand years ago, Constantinople was the greatest wonder of its age. It was an imperial capital, an emporium, a shrine and a fortress. Its emperor occupied the throne of the Roman Caesars. The city was designed as a mirror of heaven.
Sometime in my twenties I discovered the treasure trove of stories that lie within the eleven centuries of Constantinople's history: tales of emperors and empresses, crusader knights, floating nuns, mechanical trees, Vikings, Huns, Goths and Khazars.
In the eleven centuries of Constantinople's existence we see the clash of civilizations, the fall of empires, the rise of Christianity, revenge, lust and murder.
I brought my son with me to Istanbul so he might have these stories too.
True stories of blood, treasure and conquest from the City of the World's Desire.
Richard Fidler is a broadcaster and author. His long form interview show Conversations with Richard Fidler is broadcast across Australia on ABC Radio. The Conversations podcast receives 1.9 million downloads every month. In another life Richard was a member of the comedy trio The Doug Anthony Allstars (DAAS) which played to audiences all over the world. Ghost Empire is his first non-fiction book, published by ABC Books (full bio here).