THE CITY OF CONSTANTINOPLE

Constantinople

Next to Rome, Constantinople is the most interesting city of Europe, and the greatest scene of remarkable events affecting the destinies of mankind.

For almost a thousand years Constantinople was the richest city in Christendom. It radiated out from three great buildings, the church of Haghia Sophia, the Hippodrome and the Great Palace.

The city also had a great many other fine churches and palaces, filled with exquisite works of art. Daily life for the populace centred on the four market squares, or fora. Meanwhile, their need for fresh water was met by an advanced network of aqueducts and underground water cisterns.


Constantinople

Constantinople


The City In 1200

At its height the magnificent city of Constantinople probably had about 400,000 inhabitants. The population density was relatively low, though, and there was space within the city walls for fields and orchards.


Walls of Theodosius

Theodosius II's great chain of land walls withstand countless sieges until the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1453


Walls of Theodosius

Walls of Theodosius


Byzantine Church Architecture

Early Byzantine churches were either basilical (like St John of Studius) or built to a centralized plan (as in SS Sergius and Bacchus).

From the 9th century, churches, like the typical example shown here, were built around four corner piers, or columns.

Exteriors were mostly unadorned brickwork, but interiors were lavishly decorated with golden mosaics. Although the Ottomans converted Constantinople's churches into mosques after their conquest of the city, many original features are clearly discernible today.


Valens Aqueduct

Water from the Belgrade Forest and the mountains west of the city was brought into Constantinople on this great structure.


Valens Aqueduct

Valens Aqueduct

Byzantine Church Architecture

  • A central apse is flanked by two smaller side apses
  • Four columns support the dome
  • Brickwork may alternate with layers of stone
  • Golden mosaics cover the ceilings and upper walls
  • The narthex, a covered porch, forms the entrance to the church

  • Byzantine Church

    Byzantine Church

    Church Of The Holy Apostles

    The domes of what was one of the city's most important churches are shown in this 12th century image of the Ascension.


    Church of the Holy Apostles

    Church of the Holy Apostles

    Million Hippodrome

    This stone pillar is all that remains of a Byzantine triumphal arch from which road distances to all corners of the empire were once measured.


    Million Hippodrome

    Million Hippodrome

    Basilica Cistern

    This cavernous cistern represented a great feat of engineering when it was built in the 6th century.


    Basilica Cistern

    Basilica Cistern

    Haghia Sophia Mosaic

    The great church of Constantinople was filled with mosaics, including this one showing the Virgin and Child with the emperors Constantine and Justinian.


    Haghia Sophia Mosaic

    Hagia Sophia Mosaic


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