Ancient Constantinople

May 23, 2014 - Istanbul, Turkey



Our hugely successful training course is finally over, so now I can start writing about all the fun stuff I’ve been up to in my down time. We were supposed to have a half day of training on Wednesday, but we rearranged the schedule so everyone could have the whole day off. Even though the other days were much longer, it was definitely worth it. I will celebrate with the national drink of Turkey – raki!


Like I mentioned in a previous post, Istanbul has been an important city for thousands of years. It was a main trading post along the silk road back in ancient times, and was part of the Roman Empire for about 250 years until Constantine moved the capital of the Empire to Constantinople in 330. For a time it was known as the Eastern Roman Empire, and then as the Byzantine Empire.

The sprawling Great Palace was constructed around the time of Constantine to serve as a place for the emperor to live, and as the administrative center of the empire. The Great Palace underwent numerous destructions and renovations over the centuries, and not much of it is left today. In the mid 1900’s, archeologists discovered incredible mosaics from the floors of the palace. There is a small museum that houses some of these mosaics, so I dragged my colleagues there on Wednesday to check them out because I love mosaics.

Mosaic Museum 8Mosaic Museum 3

The mosaics are made up of limestone, marble, glass, and even semiprecious stones. The scenes depict daily life, hunting scenes, and even mythological creatures. I’ve seen similar mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily

Mosaic Museum 2Mosaic Museum 6

Another remnant of Ancient Constantinople is the Basilica Cistern. It was built by the Emperor Justinian in 532 to store water for the city, it has a capacity for 100,000 tons of water storage. We walked down a bunch of steps to get into the cistern, and I was completely blown away by the size of the place. It is one of the coolest places I have ever visited.

Basilica Cistern 1Basilica Cistern 2Basilica Cistern 3

As we were making our way to the cistern we stumbled upon the Milion. It is a large stone that marked the beginning of the roads that lead out of Constantinople. All of the major city names were inscribed on the base of the marker with their distances from the city.

Road MarkerCity Markers

There are many more pictures in the albums under the "pictures" section, be sure to check them out.  I will be writing about them soon, but right now it is happy hour in Istanbul and that raki is calling my name.



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