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Istanbul, Rome and Jerusalem: Titans of the Holy Cities

Simon Sebag Montefiore, one of our most popular historians, and also presenter of BBC television series on Istanbul, Rome and Jerusalem, selects the essential cast of dramatic characters who built, destroyed or changed the three great Holy Cities.

The creators of Istanbul: from the murderous visionary Constantine the Great to the ultimate power couple, Justinian and his burlesque-dancer-turned-empress Theodora, to Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxelana, all the way to Ataturk. In Jerusalem: from Herod the Great, who killed his beloved wife and three sons, to the great Crusader queen Melisende and the Arab conqueror Saladin. In Rome, from psychotic Caligula and the philosopher Marcus Aurelius to the megalomanical seductress Marozia, the Borgias and Mussolini.

These are stories and characters that everyone should know and no one should forget.


Roma (1,363)
Istanbul (271)


Turkey (564)
Italy (5,202)

Other geographical areas

Bosporus (30)
Balkan Peninsula (1,516)
Western Asia (1,597)
Southern Europe (7,123)