The Imperial Palace of Constantinople (330-1081) (Istanbul)

Constantine the Great commissioned the building of Constantinople’s imperial palace in 324. After the dedication of Constantinople in 330, he began to live in the palace. It served as the royal residence of emperors and empresses for around eight hundred years. After the Nike riots destroyed much of the palace in 532, emperor Justinian rebuilt it. With successive emperors, it became a massive network of interlinked complexes that spread across Constantinople.

In order to construct a imperial mosque that would rival the Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia), Ottoman ruler Ahmet constructed the Blue Mosque over the palace in 1609-1616. Today, thousands of tourists visit Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and are unaware that they are walking where Constantinople’s imperial palace once stood. Starting in the 1930s, archaeologists uncovered beautiful mosaics that were part of the palace. Today they are displayed at the Great Palace Mosaic Museum opened in 1987. Archaeological work continues in the palace area.