Constantinople - Capital of Western Civilization.
A friend emailed me some recreations of Constantinople off the internet. My favorite is the photo above. This one photo displays the glory of the Eastern Empire: the Hippodrome, the Great Palace and Hagia Sophia.
Many historians look down on Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire. Many look down because they are snobs. Many others out of ignorance.
To compare you need to look at European life outside the boundaries of the Roman Empire. For example, take Paris around the year 500 AD. It was an overgrown village of perhaps 20,000 mostly illiterate people basically living in their own filth.
In the same year of 500 AD Constantinople had a sophisticated urban population of about 500,000 people. The city was served by a strong government, a professional military, libraries, schools, hospitals, entertainment, aqueducts and more. It was also capital of a Roman Empire that stretched from North Africa to Persia to the Balkans.
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Eastern Roman Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453).
In founding the new city the Emperor Constantine stimulated private building by promising householders gifts of land from the imperial estates in Asiana and Pontica and on 18 May 332 he announced that, as in Rome, free distributions of food would be made to the citizens. At the time, the amount is said to have been 80,000 rations a day, doled out from 117 distribution points around the city.
From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe.
These photos help us understand a vanished civilization.
Sir Steven Runciman, historian of the Crusades, wrote that the sack of Constantinople is "unparalleled in history".
The Wondrous Waters of Constantinople
This computer recreation of Constantinople gives us a stunning visual of what the city looked like.
Click on the YouTube link to watch.