During the early Middle Ages, travellers to the East returned with stories of a place called Miklagarth, a city so vast that its churches, palaces and monasteries covered the land and so rich that its ruler could scatter bagfuls of gold among his astonished guests. This was no legend or tall tale for Miklagarth was a real place. Better known as Constantinople, it was the capital city of the empire of Byzantium and a major political force in the eastern Mediterranean for over a thousand years. The mythical aura that surrounded Constantinople was no accident. It was assiduously cultivated by the Byzantine emperors to bolster their power, wealth and prestige. Jonathan Harris examines the intriguing interaction between the mythical and the actual to reconstruct the city at the peak of its power.