St. Nicholas

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Constantinople (Istanbul)

Nicholas journeyed to the city to petition for his people

Constantine
Constantine I, Emperor AD 306–337
Image:
Staffordshire Schools
Permission pending
Detail map Constantinople
Click for larger map

For a thousand years Constantinople was the Queen of Cities. Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire in AD 330 from Rome to the new city he ordered built on the site of Greek Byzantium. Built at the Bosporus, the link between the Black and Agean Seas, it guarded trade routes by land and sea. The rich city produced luxury goods, military supplies, hardware, textiles, and jewelry. Constantinople's political, cultural, and intellectual life was active, encouraged by a high level of literacy among both men and women at various levels of society.

A magnificent city with grand buildings, palaces, markets, and churches surrounded by walls, Constantinople grew to perhaps 100,000 by the end of Constantine's reign (AD 337). At a crossroad of the world, it bustled with activity and colorful trade.

Greeks had founded Byzantium around 600 BC; its strategic location guaranteed a continual history of seige and capture. Constantine named his city, Nova Roma (New Rome), though the name never caught on. In time it was called Constantinople in his honor. When it was conquered and made capital of the Ottoman Empire (1453) both Constantinople and Istanbul, a Turkish form of Constantinople, were used. The name changed officially to Istanbul in 1930, though Westerners continued to use Constantinople into the 1960s.

Life changed greatly for Christians when Constantine became the Emperor. Instead of persecution, imprisonment and torure, there was relgious tolerance with freedom of worship. Even so, things were not always easy, as crops failed and there were times of want and famine.

When the people of Myra were struggling under newly increased taxation, Bishop Nicholas traveled to Constantinople to plead with the Emperor on the people's behalf. These views are similar to some of the sights he may have seen there.

Tax Relief for Myra

The Bosporus

The Bosporus, 18 miles long, separates Europe from Asia and with the Marmara Sea links the Aegean with the Black Sea
Photo:
Photos of Constantinople
Used by permission
Hagia Eirene
Haigia Eirene, built in 4th century by Constantine the Great
Photo:
Photos of Constantinople
Used by permission
Byzantine walls
Byzantine walls
Photo:
Photos of Constantinople
Used by permission
Byzantine walls
Byzantine walls
Photo:
Photos of Constantinople
Used by permission

Byzantine walls
Photo:
Photos of Constantinople
Used by permission
Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace
Photo:
Photos of Constantinople
Used by permission


More information

coverSaint Nicholas Bishop of Myra: The Life and Times of the Original Father Christmas by D. L. Cann, Novalis/Twenty-Third Publications, 2002
Describes the culture and places of the Graeco-Roman Empire that was home to St Nicholas
Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca or amazon.uk.

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