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ST. SOPIIIA: THE CHURCH.
(With an Engraving.) The spacious hippodrome--the racing-ground--of ancient Constantinople, part of which appears in the fore-ground of our picture, no longer remains in its original extent, to show the site of conflicts between adverse fuctions, as well as bands of racers; neither does the mosque of St. Sophia represent the grandeur of the former church, as it rose to the admiration of the Greeks. We therefore now speak of the original fabric, the church, and defer to our next Number a description of its actual condition, as the mosque.
Various writers, contemporary with the building at several stages of its history before it fell into possession of the Turks, have described it from observation ; but we borrow the half-true and half-legendary account of an anonymous writer, preserved among the Byzantine histories,* in preference to the others, because it reveals the superstition of the Greeks, as well as the chief outlines of architectural description. The reader will easily distinguish between the reality and the superstition of the tale.
A church was built at first on the same spot by Constantine the Great, in an oblong form, and adorned by that half-pagan Monarch with a multitude of statues.
"Imperium Orientale, sive Antiquitates Constantinopolitanæ," &c. Anselmi Banduri. Pars. iii., lib. iv.
VOL. XIX. Second Series.