We would like to offer knowledge about the Byzantine sites in Istanbul in this article. Today, you can witness Byzantine churches, museums, fortifications, and cisterns throughout Istanbul. We briefly discussed the Byzantine palace remains towards the conclusion of the essay.
Istanbul Throughout History
Istanbul is one of the world’s most significant cities, with a history reaching back to 660 BCE. Istanbul began as an ancient Greek city called Byzantium, was known as Constantinople during the Roman and Byzantine periods, and was known as Konstantiniyye and Dersaadet under the Ottoman Empire. Only since the republic era has the city been legally known as Istanbul.
Istanbul’s official history goes back to 2700 years ago, and its historical depth is too great even for the people who live there, much alone tourists. As a result, a few days in Istanbul will not enough to understand its past.
Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom Cathedral)
The Hagia Sophia was constructed in the aftermath of the Nika Revolt, which destroyed many of the city’s structures. Emperor Justinian survived the revolt that killed 30,000 people, and he started to construct magnificent structures to restore his image. Thus, Anthemius and Isidore, appointed by the Emperor, constructed the world’s largest and most magnificent sanctuary.
Built in 537, Hagia Sophia was such a magnificent architectural masterpiece that it took 1000 years to create buildings comparable to it. Such monuments first appeared in Europe during the Renaissance. And in the East, one thousand years after Hagia Sophia, Mimar Sinan constructed mosques that might be compared to Hagia Sophia.
The Basilica Cistern is one of Istanbul’s most intriguing locations. When you visit this cistern, which is now a museum, you will undoubtedly get chills.
In its lengthy history, Istanbul has been subjected to many sieges. Constantinople was one of the most beautiful capitals in the Middle Ages, with a wealth that drew different civilizations and barbarian tribes.
The renowned Constantinople Walls were constructed in the 5th century and protected the city for centuries. Only two times in history has the city defense failed: the Sack of Constantinople and the Fall of Constantinople.
Hippodrome in Istanbul
The Hippodrome, situated in the center of Sultanahmet, is where chariot races were held in front of 50,000 spectators in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Chariots were two-wheeled vehicles drawn by four horses, and riding these chariots required a tremendous deal of expertise. The chariots would speed on the even section of the track and then slide severely around the curve, putting riders’ abilities to the test.
The Emperor would watch the races from his lodge, and these races would also see some significant occurrences. The Nika Revolt, Istanbul’s largest revolt, began here and swept across the city. Little remains of the Hippodrome’s former grandeur. Even the surviving Theodosius Obelisk, Serpent Column, and Walled Obelisk had a long history. The Obelisk of Theodosius, a 3500-year-old obelisk imported from Egypt, is Istanbul’s oldest historical monument.
Forum of Constantine
The Forum of Constantine was one of Rome’s earliest famous structures. This plaza, built by Constantine the Great, served as the heart of Constantinople. During Emperor Constantine’s reign, the city’s main thoroughfare was known as “Mese.” The triumphant Roman troops returning after a war would march along this street, which also contained the Forum of Constantine. Today, this plaza is known as “Cemberlitas,” and it has a porphyry column built by Constantine.
The center of Byzantine Istanbul was two squares. The Forum of Constantine was one of them, while the Forum of Theodosius was the other. Mese is still a major thoroughfare in the Old City, and it is known as “Divanyolu Street,” down which the tram travels. Divanyolu Street was called under the Ottoman Empire because it led to the Divan-i Humayun (Imperial Council) at Topkapi Palace.