Gilbert was at last able to achieve his dream of visiting Constantinople, “the only place on 

earth to have been the epicenter of both Christendom and global Islam.” (Charles King, Midnight at the Pera Palace, 2014: 10) On his eastbound journey, he was in the city from Tuesday 27 May until Wednesday 11 June. He photographed what was left of the first emperor’s column, once in the centre of the Forum of Constantine to commemorate the founding of the City in AD 330 but now the only remnant of the Forum left standing, having barely survived countless fires and earthquakes. Gilbert visited Justinian’s magnificently domed church of Hagia Sophia, then still used as a mosque, as well as the site of the ancient Hippodrome. Because of its sheer size, the location of the racecourse had never been lost although the seating area had been encroached upon and built over by later structures. Along the central spine of the ancient racetrack still stood the giant bronze column in the shape of coiled serpents which Constantine had removed from Delphi among other great art works and relics carried off from ancient Greece, and whose inscriptions, which listed the Greek city states who fought at Plataea, had just been exposed at the base below ground level in 1920.

Among the churches Gilbert saw was the Pammakaristos, once a convent and for a while the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch after the Turkish Conquest in 1453. Although subsequently converted into a mosque, the south facade of its chapel was still one of the most typical and attractive of the late Byzantine architectural compositions. Its multi-storeyed arcades of arches within arches was comparable to Romanesque arches in western Europe, Gilbert’s favorite architectural style, and he took a photograph of it. He also photographed the unusual horseshoe shaped arcade in the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, whose architectural details were reminiscent of the then contemporary European Baroque.

During his visit to Constantinople Gilbert did not stay at a hotel but instead at the Italian Embassy across the Golden Horne over in Pera, the international quarter of the City where all the palatial embassies and European banks were located. The Galata Tower built long ago by Genoese traders visibly dominated this area, also known as Beyoglou. Once surrounded by vineyards on the south slopes of the Galata hill, and long occupied by the Venetian Bailo (Ambassador), the ornate Italian mansion had been lost as an Embassy to Austria in the Napoleonic Wars, but the Italian High Commissioner, Count Carlo Sforza, had just re-acquired it for Italy in 1919.