The City of Constantinople was built on the tip of a peninsular, and from the map you can see that the Great Palace was close to the sea walls. There would have been fabulous views of the Sea of Marmara from some of the Palace windows! After finding this map, the idea for the Palace Brides trilogy was born.
My husband and I visited Istanbul (the site of medieval Constantinople) to refine some ideas. Here are some of the photos.
At which point I had better add that for the citizens of Constantinople, anyone born outside the Empire was considered to be a barbarian. My first hero is an Anglo-Saxon, so that definitely puts him in the barbarian category as far as the Byzantines were concerned! The same goes for the hero of the second book (Chained to the Barbarian). Sir William Bradfer is an Apulian knight, who has been enslaved. The heroine first sees him when he is put up for sale in the slave market.
Another place we visited in Istanbul is the underground cistern, the Basilica Cistern. This was a vast chamber in which freshwater was collected for use in the palace. It's close to Hagia Sophia, on the map its towards the top, at the centre.
The Basilica Cistern is an extraordinary feat of Byzantine engineering. It was begun in 532 by the Emperor Justinian, and the engineers used a site where there had been an even earlier cistern. It has survived the ravages of time and conquest. Wandering about Istanbul near Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, it's hard to imagine the hidden cistern beneath your feet. It's vast!
Down in the cistern, it's so quiet you have no idea that there's a thriving city overhead. The bases of some of the columns show heads that have come to us from Greek mythology. Among other things, you can find the Medusa...
After seeing the cistern, I couldn't resist setting part of Chained to the Barbarian there! I love research, it's like following a trail, once you start you never quite know where you are going to end up...