Edited by Richard G. Hovannisian and Simon Payaslian
From early antiquity, the Armenian people developed a rich culture on the great highland plateau extending from eastern Asia Minor to the Caucasus. On that crossroad, they interacted on many levels with civilizations of the Orient and Occident.
The Armenian community in Constantinople, dating back to the 4th century, contributed to the cultural and material development of the imperial city as Byzantine, Arab, Seljuk, Mongol, and Mamluk invaders battled across their homeland for regional hegemony.
Under Ottoman rule, Armenians in the capital despite their legal status as second-class citizens witnessed an enlightenment and cultural reawakening in all spheres of literature and arts. The military and economic decline of the Ottoman Empire, however, caused severe tensions between Turks and Armenians. The Armenian massacres of 1894-96 and 1909 culminated in the Armenian Genocide beginning in 1915 during World War I. Still, the Armenian community in Istanbul today and Armenians across the world remains the beneficiaries of the rich cultural legacy inherited from the generations of the Armenian enlightenment.