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Istanbul: Mapping the Past in the Present

Istanbul: Mapping the Past in the Present

  • Istanbul, TURKEY: January 4-18, 2011 (January Term)
  • TRAVL-UG 9750 | 4 credits | Instructor: Hallie Franks (NYU Gallatin)
  • LEVEL: Undergraduate, NYU students
  • TOPICS: History, architecture, and more

Students are admitted on a rolling basis and programs may fill quickly. Students are encouraged to apply early.

sun coming through windows of painted mosque ceiling

From its early centuries as a Greek colony and Roman center, to its unique role as the imperial capital of both the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires, to its latest distinction as a European Cultural Capital of 2010, Istanbul’s vaunted history spans over two and a half millennia. The city has been the site of dramatic shifts in global power, politics, and culture. Even now, its very form, which preserves, in its oldest parts, monuments from the ancient, Byzantine, and Ottoman pasts alongside one another, commemorates the varied traditions that have contributed to its rich history.

In this course, the city itself will serve as the foundation for our investigation of the ways in which Istanbul’s pasts have been physically memorialized, narrated, and incorporated into the urban landscape. We will consider this landscape from a horizontal perspective by first mapping existing monuments in relationship to one another and considering the impact of the past on the current experiences of the city’s space. We will then map the city from a vertical perspective, addressing what is preserved, reused, or destroyed at pivotal historical moments, and exploring how the physical space at that moment reflects the changing identity of the city.

The following monuments and sites in Istanbul’s “Old City” will serve as the center of our discussion: the Roman Hippodrome and Cisterns, the Hagia Sophia, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Sultan Ahment Mosque, Topkapi Palace. We will also visit the neighborhoods in the “New City” that provide a contrast to such sites, which may include Beyoglu, Galata, Kuzguncuk, and Kadikoy.

Gallatin students: This course fulfills 4 credits of the Interdisciplinary Seminar as well as the Humanities requirement.


  • Undergraduate students of all NYU schools
  • Must have completed at least one full-time college semester before the course begins
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA, good academic & disciplinary standing


  • Tuition, 4 credits: $4464
  • Deposit (applied to program costs, non-refundable): $400
  • Program Fee: $700

Program fee includes mandatory excursions, housing, and some meals.

Other Major Costs to Consider:

  • Round-trip airfare (students purchase their own tickets and are responsible for their own accommodation for travel beyond the program dates); students will be notified when to book flights
  • Fees for passport; fees for travel visa, if required
  • Most meals and local transportation

Financial Aid

The Gallatin Dean's Scholarship is available for this program. See our Financial Aid for Study Away page for details on eligibility and additional opportunities.

Important Travel Details

Housing: Students are required to reside in accommodations arranged by NYU Gallatin.

Travel Documents: All program participants are required to have a valid passport, and certain participants might need a travel visa. These documents should be obtained well in advance of the program start date.