Art: Tale of Two Cities

There can hardly have been two distant cities whose fate was, for good and ill, more intimately linked than Venice and Constantinople. Soon after the Emperor Constantino the Great established his new Christian Rome by the Bosporus in 334 A.D., Constantinople, the fabled golden city of Byzantium, became the matrix of European civilization. During Constantinople's rise, Rome was a tract of ruins and Venice only a cluster of wattle huts on a lagoon mudbank.

In the 6th century, Venice allied itself with the Byzantine Empire, and from the 9th to the 13th centuries the...

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