Venus And Aphrodite: History Of A Goddess and Istanbul: A Tale Of Three Cities are now available both as eBooks and audiobooks: Venus & Aphrodite Istanbul


Travelling on her own traditional Dahabiya boat, Bettany journeys almost 1,000 miles from Cairo to the Aswan Dam on the mighty River Nile stopping off at the most iconic and dazzling sites along the way. From ancient gossip on the sex lives of the rich and famous to a close up encounter with King Tut’s grandmother, this colourful travelogue interweaves mystery, revelation, stunning visuals and diverse modern-day encounters to create a unique and unforgettable journey through the highlights of Ancient Egyptian history.

Buy now on DVD

A new eight-part landmark history of ancient Rome. Across the series Bettany explores eight key days that she believes define the Roman Empire and help us to understand its remarkable success.

In each episode Bettany travels across the Roman world, delving into the psyche and uncovering brand new archaeological evidence, while lavish drama brings the incredible story of Rome to life.   

The eight days include Rome’s early defeat of her great rival Carthage under Hannibal, at the battle of Zama; a crucial moment and one of the most important battles in ancient history when Rome, an influential city-state becomes an unstoppable Empire. We also explore the day when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River and set in motion a series of events which would ultimately culminate in the end of Rome’s republic. The final episode looks at the day Constantine, close to death, was finally baptised as a Christian. It was here he made a final declaration of the spiritual allegia...

Bettany Hughes' book, 'Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities' is available to purchase in hardback and paperback in ten countries.

Order now from Amazon: UK | USA

'Book of the Year' in both the Financial Times and the Telegraph.

“A deeply researched biography of a legendary city…A panoramic cultural history of a fascinating place.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A vibrant, sprawling portrait of a city as enigmatic as it is historically important…Hughes' entertaining narrative style with its visual details, dramatic archaeological discoveries, and cliffhanger chapter endings allows her erudition and exuberance to shine.”—Booklist

“Hughes demonstrates a passionate and keen eye for detail in her newest book covering the history of Istanbul from its classical origins to the modern era. Despite its heft…this work is eminently readable and thorough…A timely work, given current events, and a powerful testimony to Istanbul's impact on culture, society, and religion over time. Historians and lay readers alike will find...

Bettany Hughes’ series ‘Genius of the Ancient World’ and ‘Genius of the Modern World’ originally broadcast on the BBC are now available to view on Netflix in the US, Canada, Spain, Brazil and Asia. Bettany traces the lives of six great thinkers that have shaped the modern world: Socrates, Confucius, Buddha, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Frederick Nietzsche.

Fortunately for today’s readers, the historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes has [an] outlook, sufficiently wide to encompass everything from the earliest spear-carrying bronze age inhabitants to marauding ancient Greeks, Christian-slaughtering Roman emperors, pious Byzantine ascetics, world-conquering Ottomans and hatchet-faced 20th-century nationalists. She populates her three cities of Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul with a rich and dizzying cast of ordinary and extraordinary men and women...This is a historical narrative brimming with brio and incident. Hughes' portraits are written with a zesty flourish...One wonders whom she could possibly be thinking of in 10 Downing Street or The White House when she concludes that "to know Istanbul is to know what it is to be cosmopolitan - this is a city that reminds us that we are, indeed, citizens of the world." Istanbul a visceral, pulsating city...In Bettany Hughes' life-filled and life-affirming history, steeped in romance and wr...

Bettany's new book, a cultural history of Istanbul, will be released in January 2017, and is available to pre-order.

Istanbul has always been a place where stories and histories collide and crackle, where the idea is as potent as the historical fact. From the Qu'ran to Shakespeare, this city with three names - Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul - resonates as an idea and a place, and overspills its boundaries - real and imagined. Standing as the gateway between the East and West, it has served as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. For much of its history it was known simply as The City, but, as Bettany Hughes reveals, Istanbul is not just a city, but a story. In this epic new biography, Hughes takes us on a dazzling historical journey through the many incarnations of one of the world's greatest cities. As the longest-lived political entity in Europe, over the last 6,000 years Istanbul has absorbed a mosaic of micro-cities and cultures all gathering around t...

A new series which reveals the history of ten of the most influential ideas in the story of civilisation; ideas which continue to affect us all today. 

Bettany Hughes goes beyond the delights of teas and topiary to explore ten inspiring National Trust sites.

Join Bettany as she travels around some of the most splendid sites in England, guided by our experts, to investigate their deep-rooted connections to Europe and the wider world.

In a brand new ten-week podcast series from the National Trust, award-winning historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes unravels Europe’s influence on our national heritage. Listeners will travel with Bettany through time, from prehistory to the 20th century, and around each location, guided by our experts, to learn about the deep-rooted continental connections of ten inspiring National Trust sites in 20 minute programmes.




BBC Four series in which Bettany Hughes retraces the lives of three great thinkers whose ideas shaped the modern world - Karl Marx, Frederick Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.





"The television historian Bettany Hughes, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, energetic, enthusiastic and rather astonished, has tramped across the continents on our behalf, making a clutch of hour-long documentary introductions to the individuals with the most profound influence on human society"


"In a terrific start to Genius of the Modern World, her new series on great modern(ish) thinkers, Bettany Hughes was not so much interested in what Karl Marx led to as to what led to Karl Marx"


"Bettany Hughes, in her Genius of the Modern World series, did an excellent job of not only explaining his views but charting their origins and consequences"

Andrew Billen, THE TIMES


The British Museum’s latest captivating exhibition, Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds, tells the tale of the two ancient metropolises lost to the sea for 1,000 years, and their recent re-discovery.


From intricate gold rings to colossal sculptures, the once thriving Greco-Eygptian cities of Thonis-Hercaleion and Canopus are brought back to life through 200 underwater discoveries.


In this video Bettany Hughes ventures into the deep to discover the remarkable story of Egypt’s underwater wonderlands.



Good morning. The Howard League for Penal Reform is celebrating its 150th birthday - so I am donating my birthday in May to them. History shows us that is hard in life to be good - often easier to be bad. The earliest root of the word justice is 'dek' - it is the same root that gives us 'finger', hence index finger, decimal and eventually iudex, judge. A judge points others in the right direction; sets them on the right path. Let's try to ensure that our penal system does the right thing by justice: Not to encourage just the jabbing fingers of retribution, not fists of iron that encourage fists to flail, but strong hands that help. Justitia stands with her arms outstretched balancing her scales. A just society can only benefit us all. If you would like to support the work of The Howard League, making life better for all of us - please do give a little on this fine, Spring day. With thanks and love.



A new series on Radio 4 in which Bettany investigates the story of the Roman road that connected east to west and that ran from Italy to Istanbul - the Via Egnatia.


Built as a means of military control this quickly became a vital artery spanning the Ancient, Byzantine, Ottoman and modern worlds. Along the way I meet migrants and human smugglers, the victims of the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, a Macedonian who tries to persuade me to marry my daughters to her nephew and cutting edge bloggers who are determining the future of the Balkans - as well as gaining access to some remarkable unseen digs from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman ages.


Ancient Ways begins 4 December at 11am on BBC Radio 4









"It was an epic thoroughfare constructed 2,000 years ago that connected Rome to Byzantium. As we know so well in Britain, Roman roads endure, and the Egnatian Way is no exception. It’s “something built on to the land, rather...

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Copyright © Bettany Hughes 2009