Historical Structures and Cultures

Historical Structures and Cultures

B. Leftheris 

Technical University of Crete, Greece

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In the early periods of human habitation, nomadic people moved from place to place searching for the means to survive. As civilizations matured, they developed permanent habitations. Others, less advanced warriors, moved in, destroyed the communities and devastated everything in their path. This struggle for survival of the fi ttest continued for many millennia and especially during the period between the 3rd and 18th centuries in Europe. As an example we refer briefl y to the small island of Kythera, in the Ionian Sea. The Spartans, the Athenians, the Byzantines, the Venetians, the French, and the English occupied the island. They built structures that have survived to this day, but the local residents were disingenuous and considered them as aliens. Today there is no connection and no infl uence between the people on the island and the historical structures the foreigners left behind were abandoned. In Istanbul, on the other hand, no resident can avoid the protective wall structures built by the Byzantines. The Ottomans who conquered Constantinople in 1453 used the architecture of the Christian Hagia Sophia Church to build their own mosques and made more than forty Christian churches their monuments of antiquity: the awareness of the previous cultures is deep and unavoidable. Another example is ancient Rome that conquered ancient Greece militarily while the ancient Greek culture conquered the Romans. The Romans, however, developed their own architecture and especially their own construction engineering. In both cases the conquerors were disciplined by the culture they conquered to reach out beyond themselves. Byzantium was the result of kneading the Greek and Roman cultures with Christianity. This is not the case with New York and Sydney, although they have multicultural societies. Their evolvement is the result of freedom of thought and will that was brought about by social stirrings, the scientifi c discovery, and the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. Their evolvement went far beyond their traditional cultures and was determined by utility and technology and certainly by an outburst of individual creativity.


competitive spirit and social evolution, Istanbul, Kythera, New York City, structures and cultures, structures and human values


[1] Freely, J. & Cakmak, A., Byzantine Monuments of Istanbul, Cambridge University Press: UK, 2004.

[2] Ertug, A., Byzantium and Ottomans are a Continuity, interview published in the newspaper Kathemerini, Athens, Greece, 25 February 2007.

[3] Homberger, E., The Historical Atlas of New York City, Henry Holt and Company: New York, 1994.

[4] Ballantyne, A., Architecture: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2002.