The city is extremely populous, and hath none to compare with it, except Bagdat, the mighty city of the Ismaelites. In it is the magnificent temple of St Sophia, where dwells the patriarch of the Greeks, who do not agree in doctrine with the pope of Rome. This temple contains as many altars as there are days in the year, and it has a revenue beyond all estimation great, from the offerings and riches brought continually from divers countries, islands, forts, castles, and places, so that the wealth of no other temple on earth can be compared to the riches which it contains. In the middle of this temple there are pillars of gold and silver, huge candlesticks, lanterns, lamps, and other ornaments of these precious metals, more than can be reckoned. Close to this temple there is a place set apart for the diversion of the emperor, called the Hippodrome, where great spectacles are represented yearly, on the birth-day of Jesus of Nazareth, in which men in the habits of all the various people of the earth, appear before the emperor and empress, with lions, bears, leopards, and wild asses, which are made to fight together; and in no country on earth are such princely sports to be seen.
Besides the palace left him by his ancestors, Manuel has built one for himself, called Bilbernae, the pillars and walls of which are overlaid with beaten gold and silver, on which all the wars of his ancestors are represented. In this palace there is a throne of gold and precious stones, over which a golden crown, enriched with precious stones and pearls, is suspended on high, the value of which is beyond computation, and its lustre so great, that it shines, and may be seen in the night. There are other things in this palace of such value and profusion as are quite incredible, and immense tributes are brought yearly into it, by which the towers are filled with scarlet and purple garments and gold, so that the like example of sumptuous buildings, and enormous riches, can nowhere else be found in the world.