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Foreign correspondent and voyager. Worked and lived in Iran, Russia and Turkey. At home in Istanbul but always moving.
Stalin lies in state in Moscow, 1953

Is it the Netflixation of history? We’ve become increasingly accustomed to viewing historical or even recent events through the prism of fictional representation, mainly in TV dramas. The success of the drama The Crown, to give just the most obvious example, means that millions around the world see the Queen…


‘July Rain’, waiting for the shower to pass

Quite often the appreciation of foreign literature, cinema or art is exemplified by a near obsessive focus on a handful of big names to the exclusion of all else. For long, my awareness of cinema in the Soviet Union, which left a a huge and varied legacy with an influence…


For many, their favourite place in Moscow could be a world famous heritage landmark — Red Square, the Bolshoi Theatre or St Basil’s Cathedral. The city is dotted with extraordinary places from hundreds of years of history whose first impact is never forgotten. But as I returned to Moscow earlier…


Saxon fortified church in Prejmer, Romania

Transylvania. The associations are clear but often misguided. This mountainous, thickly-forested and culturally-rich area in the heart of today’s Romania is inextricably linked to a novel written by a man who never set foot in the area and also a mediaeval ruler regarded more as a fairy-tale villain than historical…


It is 4:45 am in the morning and the abusive scream of the alarm clock wrenches me out of my sleep. I dreamily contemplate the snooze function but think the better of it and instead fall into a tried-and-trusted routine. Throw on sports kit, assemble a small rucksack, lace up…


During five years living in Turkey, I crossed the country in search of new experiences and insights along this extraordinary nation that stretches from the Balkans to Mesopotamia. Everywhere, whether watching ships pass through the Dardanelles or the sun set in Mardin in the southeast, Turkey has the ability to…


Istanbul’s Kariye Museum, the former Church of St Saviour in Chora, is after the Hagia Sophia, the greatest surviving example of Byzantine heritage in the city once known as Constantinople that was taken over by the Ottomans in 1453. Amid the glittering portrayals of Christ and the saints that have…


Seagull flies past Istanbul historic skyline

A hoopoe perches on a rock while exploring an ancient site. An early morning run is interrupted by a chance encounter with an owl. And while travelling by ferry across continents, seagulls and cormorants compete for attention with world heritage monuments.

In five years living in and travelling around Turkey…


On the afternoon of July 15, 2016, the world heritage committee of the UN’s cultural arm UNESCO made a remarkable decision. It approved the remains of the former mediaeval Armenian capital of Ani in Kars province of northeastern Turkey as one of its World Heritage Sites. …


Two flights of stairs, seemingly unrelated.

The first twists up from Istanbul’s Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street) in the most beautifully serpentine fashion, helping hurried tourists and locals up the steep incline towards the Galata Tower.

Camondo Steps, heading to Galata Tower, Istanbul

The second takes visitors up from a beautiful entrance hall to the upper floors in…

Stuart Williams

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