In Byzantine times “the reigning City” must have been of an exotic and quaint splendor. A thousand cupolas all-golden shining in that blessed kingcity. In the middle there was standing, like a sun, Haghia Sophia, and around her scattered the other churches with the golden cupolas, heavenly spheres, you said they were turning around the sun. Those buildings did not seem to be by men, but like they came from the sky and stood upon the earth. And from the inside, they were adorned fully with tiles, with colorful marbles, with enamels, with paintings, you thought you are entering heavenly palaces. Old Chinese people were right to say about those buildings that they are “some great palaces shining, which from the inside look like the golden wings of the pheasant when he flies”.
This is the start of Kontoglou’s ”Byzantium: The hallowed city” [in Greek only – pdf] – Related : Constantinople Home Page