Octagonal hall enclosed in a square

The throne-room, for instance, was, as we shall find in the sequel, almost a facsimile of the Church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus. Like that church it was an octagonal hall enclosed in a square, and surmounted by a dome pierced by windows.

Each division of the octagon formed a bay under a semi-dome, and above the bays was a rich entablature, with a cornice that projected so as to constitute a gallery. The floor was paved with slabs of porphyry and variegated marbles, arranged to form beautiful designs and set in borders of silver, while walls and vaults gleamed with mosaics. The hall was entered from the west, and in the bay directly opposite stood the throne, with an icon of Christ in mosaic in the conch above it The bay immediately to the south of the throne was the emperors robing-room, leading to a chapel in which his robes of state, his crowns and arms, and two enameled gold shields, studded with pearls and precious stones, were kept under the guardianship of S. Theodore. The other state rooms of the palace were all varieties of the same type, displaying more or less skill and taste, according to the fluctuations of art in Constantinople. Of all the magnificence that once adorned these slopes, nothing remains but unshapely masses of brickwork, broken shafts, fallen capitals and empty sarcophagi 1 Slopes that vied with the Palatine as a seat of power, they are without a vestige of the grandeur that lingers around the ruined home of the Caesars! The higher part of the site of the palace is now occupied by the Mosque of Sultan Achmed, the six minarets of which, combined with the four minarets of S. Sophia, make so striking a feature in the aspect of this part of the city. Upon the lower slopes lives a Turkish population that never dreams of the splendour buried beneath its humble dwellings.

Ruins of the residence of Justinian

Close to Tchalady Kapou, and at the water’s edge, are the ungainly ruins of the residence of Justinian the Great and Theodora, before their accession to the throne. Here began the romance of their lives. In course of time additional buildings were put up at this point, and the group thus formed became the Marine Residence attached to the Great Palace. Here was the little harbor at the service of the Court, with marble steps descending to the water from a quay paved with marble, and adorned with many marble figures of lions, bears, bulls, and ostriches.


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