Long before it was Istanbul or even Constantinople, the great city that is now Turkey’s undisputed cultural capital was Byzantium, the city on the Bosporus founded by Megaran colonists in 637 B.C.
As the Roman Empire became larger and more unwieldy, it was on this eastern city that the eyes of Emperor Constantine alighted in 330. Given his stamp of approval, it was renamed Constantinopolis and went on to become the heart of the Byzantine Empire that evolved out of the eventual collapse of the Roman Empire.
Today traces of the Byzantine era litter Old İstanbul inside the battered old land walls. The most conspicuous and most visited of those traces is, of course, the great church of Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) that bestrides Sultanahmet Square. But with many of the old buildings given new uses (specifically the churches as mosques) and with no museum devoted to the city’s Byzantine history, it can be hard for the casual visitor to imagine how things once were. Click on http://www.byzantium1200.com to find out more about the Byzantine city, then head straight for these great sites to dream of the distant past.
Tour the ten iconic monuments here.