City of Constantine

Mapping the remnants of Roman / Byzantine Constantinople in Istanbul

This website is an expanding record and map of the architectural remnants of Roman 'Byzantine' Constantinople, 330-1453.

'What's left of Constantinople?' captures the imagination of anyone exploring Byzantium. There's little doubt that from the mid-5th to the early 13th c., Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe.

Yet despite countless references to the city's grandeur, I was skeptical about what might remain of it. Like many people, I had preconceived notions about the 'dark' and middle ages, amplified by an assumption of Turkish indifference. Throw in qualms about the prowess of early Christianity, or what 1700 years can do to stone and mortar, and my doubts seemed well-founded.


Just add horses.

In truth, while there is quite a lot left, most of it is in poor shape. At all but a handful of sites, your mind's eye has some very serious work to do. The more I learn, the more I blame earthquakes, the Fourth Crusade and the heady pace of urban development of modern Istanbul.

To manage this reality, I've categorized every feature on this site by its current condition:

  • I've labeled something as being in 'good' condition if it's still standing in its original location, identifiable, and mostly in one piece.
  • 'Poor' denotes an edifice that is still in situ, but is heavily damaged, and wouldn't by itself be worthy of a 'general interest' tourist visit. The 'Tower of Eirene' is a good example. It's a teetering stub of a tower, and not even the experts know its original purpose.
  • 'Vestigial' denotes something that merely points to a prior feature of the old city. The colonnades of the Mese are long gone, but you can at least walk along its course. The Milion is no longer, but there is a plaque near its original location, and a slender piece of its foundations has been left out as proof.
  • I've also included 'lost' non-extant features, to complete the picture. Hopefully you'll find these stimulating rather than frustrating.

I've tried to make the map as accurate and mobile-friendly as possible. Overlaying the Roman on top of modern Istanbul's streets, you should be able to use it to quickly decide what to see, and how to get there.

If you have any recommendations or corrections, please feel free to email me at cityofconstantine@gmail.com or connect on Twitter.