top of page

Illuminating Istanbul

A Series of 5 Lectures by Sevan Melikyan
Thursdays at 10am EST

August 10 - September 7, 2023

Registration Status: OPEN

Series Cost:   $25 per lecture or $100 for 5 

How did Istanbul, one of the world’s most fascinating and storied cities, come about?  This series of 5 lectures, hosted by our in-house art expert, Sevan Melikyan, surveys the history, lore, people, art, and architecture that define a rich and complex metropolis that has been populated for over 2500 years.  

Lectures 1 and 2 focus on the origins and development of Byzantium, the ancient Greek colony that was the first iteration of Istanbul, before becoming the capital of the whole Roman Empire as New Rome and ultimately, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire as Constantinople. Marvelous vestiges from these successive eras include the Hippodrome, the Basilica Cistern, the Theodosian Walls, Hagia Irene, the Galata Tower, and of course the majestic jewel of Istanbul: Hagia Sophia.

It took 1000 years and numerous sieges before Constantinople’s mighty walls were finally breached in 1453 by the forces of the fast-expanding Ottoman Empire. Over the ensuing 600 years, Constantinople becomes a destination for its myriad cultural achievements including the Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, the Suleymaniye Mosque, and the breathtaking Blue Mosque.  Lectures 3 and 4 provides entry to many of the iconic sights that still draw world travelers and reveal the stories that lie behind their walls.

Our final lecture will overview modern Turkey as it emerged from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923. Constantinople will be renamed Istanbul, birthplace of our lecturer and guide Sevan Melikyan! After a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace he’ll take us along on a virtual cruise along the Bosphorus, home to the Golden Horn, and to Buyukada, just off the coast, in the Marmara Sea, a magical landscape home to his fondest childhood memories.


Lecture 1

Thursday, August 10, 10:00AM

Greek, Roman, and Byzantine heritage Part 1: Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern, Theodosian Walls, Valens Aqueduct…


Lecture 2

Thursday, August 17, 10:00AM

Greek, Roman, and Byzantine heritage Part 2: Aya Irini, Hagia Sophia, Galata Tower…


Lecture 3

Thursday, August 24, 10:00AM

Ottoman Heritage Part 1: Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Rumeli Hisar (Bosphorus tour)


Lecture 4

Thursday, August 31, 10:00AM

Ottoman Heritage Part 2: Suleymaniye Mosque, The Blue Mosque, Rustem Pasa Mosque, Mausoleums, Pierre Loti Café…


Lecture 5

Thursday, September 7, 10:00AM

Modern Turkey: Balat Neighborhood, Galatasaray, Dolmabahce Palace, Buyukada…

Schedule subject to change
Image by Fatih Yürür
Image by Meriç Dağlı

This lecture series is in conjunction with our Istanbul trip, which is scheduled for September 17 - 27, 2023.    You can find more information about the actual trip here.  You need not join the trip to attend the lecture series. 



sevan melikyan (photo by colin jorgensen
Sevan Melikyan
Instructor & Tour Guide

Sevan Melikyan is the director of Wired Gallery in High Falls, New York, a founding member and director of Chagall in High Falls, Inc., a lecturer on art museums, and an artist. In 2013, Art Society of Kingston presented Melikyan with its ASKars award in recognition for his “significant contributions to the arts” and The Ulster County Executive recognized Melikyan as an Arts Ambassador. Prior to the U.S., he lived in Paris, France where he earned a BA focusing on arts marketing, and prior to that, in Istanbul, Turkey, where he was born of Armenian parents in 1965.


One August afternoon, during the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, I was fortunate to meet Sevan through my friend Jon Nakamatsu. When Naki won the Van Cliburn in 1997, Sevan was the marketing person there and his wife Maria was Naki’s manager. Sevan and Maria came to the Cape one summer to meet up with Naki (and to hear some great music). We got to know each other quite well over long nights of card games at our dining room table.


" . . . these trips with you cannot be closer to my core values of sharing amazing art through the ages, with which we also learn about ourselves and our civilization. And my hope is always that at the end of it, people are left to believe in humanity, on our own power to create amazing, positive things. And I also hope they smile, because...I like to be funny!”

Joan Hill
Owner, Host, & Director

In 2008, the seed of Artful Journeys was planted in her brain, when Joan brought together all of her life's passions, her love of music, an affinity for the beautiful things in life with an ability to organize events to give birth to Artful Journeys, a program of art education trips for the soul and mind.


Joan was born and raised in the apple country of the Hudson River Valley in New York; her father was a gentle, very tolerant, educated land surveyor, and her mother was the efficient business administrator and home engineer. The youngest of four children, Joan was encouraged to pursue anything she wanted, but also to do her best. Sometimes that was very difficult, especially succeeding three very accomplished siblings.


  • Each session will cost $25 or $100 for all 5 lectures

  • PayPal is preferred; however, we do take checks   

  • A Zoom link will be provided by email within 24 hours of each meeting.

To register for a session or the series, please click below:

A Zoom link will be provided by email within 24 hours of each meeting.

For details or questions, please click here to contact Joan Hill.
bottom of page