Paradise gardens: Christianity and Islam. Km 0: Constantinople / Istanbul
In the collective imagination, the idea of the archetypal garden is that of the biblical paradise narrated by the Old Testament. From the perspective of theology and of the history of religions, the paradise garden has a triple valence: the Garden of Eden: the garden from Genesis, designed in the past; the eschatological garden, at the end of times, designed in the future; and the paradise garden, in the present time, lived here and now in the state of holiness, as a foretaste of the future kingdom of God. In a way, though the garden is omnipresent in Byzantine literature and art, there are no archaeological (excavated) evidence of the gardens in Constantinople. Since the goal is not so much of an archaeological identification of these Constantinopolitan gardens but rather the references to Constantinopolitan iconography on the Paradise garden, we will refer to mosaic art, starting from the Description of the Garden of St. Anna, by Theodore Hyrtakenos, writer and professor at Costantinople. In our artistic itinerary through Constantinople / Istanbul, another valence of the Paradise gardens is given by the Islamic art, whose representative reference remains Topkapi Palace, built by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror.