The Erebus Chronicles
The Church of Hagia Sofia
To the north of the Basilica stands Constantinople’s most identifiable landmark. As the third hub of life in the city – following the great Palace and the Hippodrome – it is a massive monument to the Orthodox Church and a reminder of the power of the imperial throne. A veritable fortress surmounted by a monumental dome, Hagia Sofia threatens to dwarf the very hill it rests upon.
Constructed in the classical form of a basilica-style church with an elongated nave, it is an architectural masterpiece. Its giant dome seemingly defies gravity. The central bronze doors leading from the narthex into the church are used only by the emperor, everyone else must use the side doors. The interior – despite the multitude of rectangular alcoves, semicircular niches, and windowed arches that support the vaulted ceiling – is graced with a central core that is open from the ground floor to the dome above.
Hagia Sofia shames most imperial buildings in its beauty and lavish design. The walls feature frescoes against gold backgrounds. The walls, floors, windows and columns are made of the finest red, green and yellow marbles. Murals are bordered with onyx and ivory. Gold mosaics are hidden in the apse and other alcoves. A variety of precious metals, jewels and stones encrust the interior beyond the definition of opulence. Forty windows around the base rim of the dome permit sunlight that, beaming in at all times of the day, sets the gold interior ablaze. Unfortunately, this is a spectacle most vampires can never see.
The Palace of Magnaura
The Magnaura (Byzantine Greek: Μαγναύρα, possibly from Latin Magna Aula, “Great Hall”) is a large building in Constantinople. It is equated by scholars with the building that houses the Senate, and which is located east of the Augustaion, close to the Hagia Sophia and next to the Chalke gate of the Great Palace. A large gate, made out of marble leads into a peristyle courtyard which leads to the Magnaura. The building, a basilica with three naves, is used as a throne room and a reception hall, and in 849, the Caesar Bardas established in the palace a school (ekpaideutērion) otherwise known as the University of Constantinople.
It is rumoured that a mysterious kindred resides here creating all manner of wonders.
The Great Palace of Constantinople
The Great Palace (Greek: Μέγα Παλάτιον, Latin: Palatium Magnum) — also known as the Sacred Palace (Latin: Sacrum Palatium, Greek: Ιερόν Παλάτιον) — is the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula. It served as the main royal residence of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine emperors from 330 to 1081 and was the centre of imperial administration for over 800 years. From the early 11th century onwards the Byzantine emperors favoured the palace of Blachernae as an imperial residence, though they continued to use the Great Palace as the primary administrative and ceremonial centre of the city.
The Palace is located in the southeastern corner of the peninsula where Constantinople is situated, behind the Hippodrome and the Hagia Sophia. The Palace is a series of pavilions. The total surface area of the Great Palace exceeds 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2). It stands on a steeply sloping hillside that descends nearly 33 metres (108 ft) from the Hippodrome to the shoreline, which necessitated the construction of large substructures and vaults. The palace complex occupies six distinct terraces descending to the shore.
The main entrance to the Palace quarter is the Chalke (Bronze) gate at the Augustaion. The Augustaion is located on the south side of the Hagia Sophia, and it is there that the city’s main street, the Mese (“Middle Street”), began. To the east of the square lies the Senate house or Palace of Magnaura and to the west the Milion (the mile marker, from which all distances were measured).
The Trinity of Constantinople hold court here. The Michaelite Herement, The Antonian Amari, and The Obertus Tzimisce Each holding one seat representing The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
Monastery of Stoudios
The Monastery of Stoudios, more fully Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner “at Stoudios”, was historically the most important monastery of Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The residents of the monastery were referred to as Stoudites (or Studites). It was founded in 462 by the consul Stoudios (Latin: Studius), a Roman patrician who had settled in Constantinople, and was consecrated to Saint John the Baptist.
As regards the intellectual life of the monastery in other directions, it is especially celebrated for its famous school of calligraphy.
In the eighth and eleventh centuries, the monastery was the centre of Byzantine religious poetry.
The Obertus Tzimsce use this monastery to further their search for enlightenment. They have been ‘sponsoring’ the Akoimetai, or “sleepless” monks for centuries.
The Templars Preceptory
Set in a compound containing a small keep, a chapel and a barracks, this foothold of the Templar Order is home to a small garrison of knights, squires and men at arms. It is run by Master Tytallus. The Preceptory is also home to Mahmoulian, a Triolic Knight, and his loyal brethren.
The Lazar House of the Order of St. Lazarus (or St. Ladre)
Established by the Order of St. Lazarus, this leper colony provides a shelter and sanctuary for those afflicted by this horrific disease. It is one of a network of such houses throughout the Holy Land and Europe. Based in a small villa on the edge of the city, it connects to the cisterns and caverns in and around the city.
The Great Bazaar
Spread across the valley and slopes of the Second and Third Hills, the Great Bazaar is an eclectic gathering of crude booths, homes, store keeps, peddlers on carts and vendors seated on carpets. The daytime streets are a bustle of local shoppers and visitors attired in foreign fashions. Children run wild, hawkers shout to passers by and men haggle over the price of wares. In the shadier areas, prostitutes beckon form dimly lit buildings and mendicants ply a mixed craft of begging and pickpocketing. At night, guards patrol the streets and keep an eye out for drunks and troublemakers.
The “House of the Red Sparrow” Brothel
This run down establishment in the Latin Quarter is home to the Madam Sadara and her stable of prostitutes. With a wide assortment of wares on offer, her doors welcome all manner of Constantinople’s finest, as long as they have the coin. Appointed with alcoves and many curtains, the place is a warren of hidden nooks and corners. Sadara also offers her clients a wide selection of hashish, hookah tabaccos and opiates to dull the senses.