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Emperor Justinian I

Worst Riots Ever

This week marks 1,485 years since some of the worst rioting the world has ever seen – the Nika riots that began on Jan. 13, 532 and lasted for five days.

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Museum of Great Palace Mosaics - man with green beard

Museum of Great Palace Mosaics

Little remains of the Great Palace’s legendary buildings aside from part of a wall from the Bukoleon palace. However, the Museum of the Great Palace Mosaics houses some of the remaining mosaics unearthed by archeologists from where it once stood.

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Hagia Irene - mosaic cross in the dome

Hagia Irene

Hagia Irene had an eerie feel to it the overcast day we visited. With only one other visitor there, the birds swooping above us far outnumbered the people. It doesn’t take long to visit Hagia Irene, but if you have the time, I recommend it.

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the Theodosian Walls, Constantinople

The Theodosian Walls

The greatest defensive element of the city of Constantinople were its walls, called the Theodosian Walls after the Emperor Theodosios, during whose reign the walls were built.

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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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