THE TRIUMPH OF JUSTINIAN
THE centre of Constantinople was the Augusteum, a spacious marble-paved square, which in general effect must have resembled the Piazza San Marco at Venice. On the north side rose the dome of St. Sophia; on the cast were the porticoes of the Senate House, while on the south side a low building with heavy iron gates formed the entrance to the Palace. Beyond this stood the lofty wall of the Kathisma, a structure whose upper stories, looking out on the Hippodrome on the opposite side, formed a royal box for the Emperor, and communicated directly with the palace buildings by galleries and a spiral staircase. In the square, besides the Milestone, a vaulted monument from which started all the roads of the Empire, stood a tall bronze column, bearing a colossal equestrian statue of Justinian, in full armour, holding the orb of the universe, his hand stretched towards the East, as if commanding the barbarians of Asia not to pass their frontiers. The Mesa, or Middle Street, lined with arcades, statues, and sumptuous palaces, led westwards from this square along the peninsula to the Golden Gate, a fortified entrance, after the Roman style, in the massive walls which ran across the isthmus.
Seen from the Bosporus the vast palace enclosure, which included the slopes between the Augusteum and the shore, was dotted with groups of gilded domes, white pavilions, baths, terraces, and chapels, set among trees and fountains, and connected by flights of marble steps.
The main entrance to the Palace led from the Augusteum to a large domed hall, decorated with mosaics displaying the wars and triumphs offnustinian. Behind it was the throne-room, and stairs led up from this to the palace of Daphne, with its airy terraces and chambers looking out across the blue waters-to the snowy summits of the Bithynian mountains.