A few days ago, we talked about the mighty Theodosian walls of Constantinople that helped protect the city from enemy assaults for over 800 years. Well this time around the focus is on the city itself, considering that Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe from 5th to early 13th century AD. To that end, it was Emperor Constantine who truly elevated the architectural ambit of the original settlement, by ‘re-founding’ it as Nova Roma (New Rome or Νέα Ῥώμη). This symbolic overture mirrored the entire shifting of the capital from original Rome to Byzantium in 330 AD, which was then called Konstantinoupolis (or city of Constantine).
In fact, the massive defense systems of the major Roman city was equally matched by its impressive architectural masterpieces, ranging from the magnificent Greek Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia, the humongous Hippodrome of Constantinople (which was capable of possibly holding 100,000 spectators) to the Great Palace of Constantinople (or Palatium Magnum or Μέγα Παλάτιον) and the triumphal Golden Gate of the complex Land Walls. In reference to the flurry of these architectural and engineering credentials, Constantinople in itself was also called Roma Constantinopolitana, sometimes accompanied by prestigious titles such as Basileuousa (Queen of Cities) and Megalopolis (the Great City).
Inspired by the wealth of complex spatial elements, artist extraordinaire Antoine Helbert had painted an entire collection of illustrations that portray the historical scope of the last great Roman city in its hey-days from 4th to 13th century AD. His works, in his own words, cover the numerous plans, elevations and sections of the major monuments of Constantinople that date from that extensive time-frame of 800 years.
Overview of Constantinople –
Elevations and Sections of the Boukoleon Palace (on the shore of the Sea of Marmara) –
Sections of Hagia Sophia –
Other Elevations of Impressive Spatial Elements, from Palaces, Forums to Gates –
The Columns of Constantinople –
And finally in case you want to take a gander at the images from a singular perspective, you can view the collection in a video format (compiled by YouTuber Quidam Graecus) –
Images Source: Portfolio from Antoine Helbert