“O land of Byzantium, o thrice blessed city, thou center of the earth, jewel of the universe, far-beaming star, lamp of the nether world … ”
Konstantinos Manasses: “Οδοιπορικόν” (12th century)
Constantinople, the capital of an ecumenical empire, was the Imperial City where the Emperor of the Romans, as well as the ecumenical patriarch, had his seat. It was the heart and the symbol of the empire and its fall marked its end.
The city’s origin is traced to Greek antiquity, when, according to legend, Byzas from Megara founded it in the 7th century BC. The Roman emperor Septimius Severus restored it and the first Christian emperor, Constantine, inaugurated the New Rome on 11 May 330.
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– Chora, Pammakaristos and the Church of Saints Sergius & Bacchus, notable churches of Constantinople
The Church of Divine Wisdom – Hagia Sophia – has a place among the greatest architectural masterpieces of the world. Through the ages the church has undergone many changes and alterations, but nothing can ruin the awe and magic that visitors feel.
The church was inaugurated in 537 under the Emperor Justinian. In the Frankish period, Hagia Sophia was converted into a Roman Catholic Church. After 1453 it served as mosque, eventually being turned into a museum in 1935. The buttresses, that were added to support the massive building, have altered the outer shape partially, as have the added minarets and mausoleums.
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