Excavations in Saraçhane for the Şehzadebaşı intersection in 1960 revealed the remains of a massive Byzantine church (41.014062,28.952971). Bigger than the Sülemaniye Camii, it was a basilica dedicated to St Polyeuktos. It has fallen a long way since its heyday in the sixth century. These days, it is the sort of public toilet in which George Michael may feel rather out of his depth. The razor wire and the locking up at night do not prevent the diurnal sleaze and defaecatory activity. When I was there, a man faced deep into a niche for at least twenty minutes, clutching an intimate portion of his anatomy. Don’t take the children.
There is one thing that can be said for the 1204 sack of Constantinople by the barbarians of the fourth crusade – it preserved some lovely pieces from the Church of St Polyeuktos. These can be seen in the vicinity of the Basilica San Marco in Venice. The pillars of Acre don’t come from Acre, they come from this church. The vandals who stole the porphyry sculpture referred to as The Tetrarch left a foot behind. This was dug up in 1960 and matched the missing limb from the statue in Venice.