Pantokrator Church & Monastery (now the Zeyrek Mosque)

The Pantokrator Monastery

We visited the Pantokrator Church & Monastery (now the Zeyrek Mosque) on a rainy day in March. Empress Irene, the wife of John II Comnenus, began the building of the monastery and church on a hill close to the Blachernae Palace. Her husband finished it after her death in 1134. Irene was a Hungarian princess, and both husband and wife are Orthodox saints.

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the leaning pillar of Hagia Sophia

Uncommon sights at Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia has many important things to view when you visit. I thought I would share a few photos of lesser known aspects of this great museum. As it happens, I took all of them in the women’s gallery.

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Greek fire

Greek Fire and its contribution to Byzantine might by Konstantinos Karatolios – A Review

The historical record says that a Syrian named Kallinikos developed the substance known as Greek fire in the 7th century. Prior to that time, liquid incendiaries were known to Persians and other civilizations in the Middle East. But it was Kallinikos who developed this mixture into a lethally effective weapon that protected the empire from invasions and rebels for centuries.

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The Omphalion (aka, the navel of the world) in the Hagia Sophia

A Rogues’ Gallery of Byzantine Rulers

It is rare to see a virtuous individual reach the pinnacle of power in any era. Byzantine rulers were no exception, with many rough and determined characters sitting on the throne in its eleven centuries. Some were brutal, but three (in my humble opinion) stand out for remarkable cruelty unleavened

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four horses at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy

A Beginners Guide to the Hippodrome of Constantinople

In the 4th century Constantine the Great built the Hippodrome of Constantinople to hold as many as 100,000 spectators. Remnants of the building survived into the Ottoman period that began in 1453, but the stadium was little used following the depredations of the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

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Hagia Sophia interior from the empress's gallery

The Queen of Cities Does Not Disappoint

In March 2016 I finally realized my dream of visiting Istanbul, bringing along my husband and our youngest daughter. I scrupulously planned out our 10-day visit. I scheduled a number of tours for sites that I thought would require an experienced guide, while for other sites we got the audio

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