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The Great Palace & Mosaics

The Great Palace & Mosaics

Buildings of the Great Palace

The Blue Mosque is built on part of the site that was once the Great Palace of the Byzantines, Palatium Magnum, which were a vast set of individual palaces erected on terraces that extended to the Sea of Marmara and what today make up Topkapi Palace .
The Daphne and Sacred Palaces stood where the Blue Mosque is now built and the Khalke, Magnaura and Mangana Palaces were on the slopes of the hill facing the sea, south-east of Hagia Sophia , with the Palace of Bucoleon next to the private harbour of the Great Palace.  

History of the Great Palace

The palace once covered an area of over 100,000sqm and construction of the complex began in 328 by Constantine the Great as an equivalent to the Palatine Palace in Rome. During the Nika Riots in 532 much of it was destroyed by fire, after which renovations and extensions were carried out by several emperors and details of what it originally looked like were written by Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (944-959) in his book “The Book of Ceremonies” and gives details of the ornate interiors.

The palace was home to the Byzantine emperors until the 1204 Fourth Crusades drove them out and on returning in 1261 they found the palace to have been virtually destroyed and rather than renovate they built the new Blachernae Palace at Ayvansaray near to the Golden Horn .
Parts of the palace structures were once used as a prison and traces of the Magnaura Palace have been discovered in the grounds of the Four Seasons Hotel.

The Mosaics

Part of the palace wall that has been poorly restored can be found on Akbiyik Road (Caddesi) and a huge mosaic pavement that was excavated in the 1930s and 1950s gives an idea of how magnificent the palace once was and can be seen in-situ at the Great Palace Mosaics Museum. The mosaic floor dates back to Justinian the Great and has an estimated 75-80 million stones (tesserae) made from tiny pieces of limestone, coloured glass, brick, marble and precious stones depicting scenes of everyday life in Byzantine times.

Location

Great Palace is located in Sultanahmet district of Fatih .

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