City Walls & Gates, Istanbul
Built in the 5th century during the reign of Theodosius II, the walls of Constantinople ran a little over 6 km from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn. The best remaining sections of the walls are to be found on the northern end from the Golden Horn to the Edirne Gate/Edirinekapý. In some areas you can climb up to the top of the walls though you cannot walk the entire way up there. The Edirinekapý was one of eight gates and it was through here that troops of Sultan Mehmet II stormed in 1453. Climb up atop the walls here and you are rewarded with one of the best panoramas of Istanbul. You see what Istanbul – the old inner city – was and what is Istanbul – the new office buildings to the north, as well as suburban sprawl far beyond the old walls. To get up atop the ate you must take care as one stairway is more like a stone ladder going straight up a couple of stories with no guard rails to ease the way.
Along with the natural setting, the formidable walls of Constantinople made this city unconquerable for most of its long history. In every iteration, from the early Greek settlement of Byzantion, to Roman Byzantium, Nova Roma and finally Roman Constantinople, new greater walls had to be built to accommodate the ever growing city. The last expansion, one that has survived to this day, was completed in 422 AD during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II. It is thus known as the Theodosian Wall, even though the Emperor himself was then only a child, and its construction was ordered by Flavius Anthemius, the Praetorian Prefect of the East, i.e. the effective ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire at the time. The wall ran 6.5 kms from the shore of the Sea of Marmara northwards to the Golden Horn, several kilometres west of the core of the city, today's Sultanahmet area. It was protected by a moat, punctured by eleven defensive gates and guarded by 192 towers. The wall was repeatedly restored after every invasion and earthquake damage from its construction through the conquest of the city by the Ottomans and until around 1700 AD. Apart from the Ottoman conquest, these walls were breached only once, by the fellow Christian Crusaders who sacked the city in 1204 AD. Attached are photos of the northern section of the wall, near Edirnekapı (the gate close to the church of St Saviour in Chora).
The old city walls of Constantinople were initially built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century AD and are still an impressive sight today. The walls surrounded the new city on all sides, protecting it against attack from both sea and land. As the city grew, the famous double line of the Theodosian Walls was built in the 5th century. Although the other sections of the walls were less elaborate, when well manned, they were almost impregnable for any medieval besieger, saving the city, and the Byzantine Empire with it, during sieges from the Avars, Arabs, Rus', and Bulgars, among others. The advent of gunpowder siege cannons rendered the fortifications vulnerable, leading to the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453.
The Walls of Constantinople are a series of stone walls that have surrounded and protected the city of Constantinople. With numerous additions and modifications during their history, they were the last great fortification system of antiquity, and one of the most complex and elaborate systems ever built.
The advent of gunpowder siege cannons rendered the fortifications less impregnable.
You can watch my 5 min 09 sec HQ Video Istanbul Evening Walk around the Golden Horn out of my Youtube channel with Turkish pop music by Ebru Gundes - Anlatamam.
The early 4th century Roman walls built by Roman Emperor Theodosius II still exist along the entire length of the former outer edge of the old city. Today, sprawling suburbs, industry, and traffic extend far beyond the wall, but it's still there, very clearly marking the boundary of the old city of Istanbul/Constantinople, and it stretches still from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn.
The walls were maintained and improved by the Romans and Byzantines for over 1,000 before the Ottomans took the city on 29 May 1453. Once the Ottomans took the city, the walls were of little real importance due to several factors, including major strides iun the use of gunpowder and other military technology, and, most importantly, the fact that the Ottomans were so powerful that there wasn't even the slightest hint of a threat to the city until the 19th century. In the 15th through 17th centuries the Ottoman Empire was practically invincible and it controlled land up through Hungary; at the time, it did the invading and no other state could even contemplate seriously invading the Ottoman realm, much less threatening Istanbul.
Nevertheless, the Ottomans did to some degree maintain the walls, at elast at first, adding some new towers and using the gates. However, the walls under them were really more a formality than anything, and certain gates primarily continued to be used, as the Romano-Byzantines had used them before, for formal ceremonies. Ultimately, the walls were allowed to decay since they became unimportant and in the 20th centuiry large roads were punched through parts.
The remains, even not counting certain "renovations" of small parts, are still massive and extensive. Gates still exist, as well.
Much of the area around the walls is a bit unpleasant, being one of the more marginalized and poorer parts of the city. There's a crowded highway along the western edge outside the old city and there's open ground among the walls, used as camps for homeless people and wandering dogs, some places where people leave trash, etc. On the inside, the neighbourhoods, especially in some areas, are very poor with poor migrants and large spots of rubble and trash and derelict buildings, some used as homeless camps. A large swath along the walls near Adnan Menderes is Sulukule, which since Byzantine times has been a parimary home to Istanbul's Romani (Gypsy) community. This is still the case and, as elsewhere, this community tends to be marginalized while here there are controversial plans to "renew" this clearly blighted neighbourhood.
However, at least in day time it is generally safe, since crime, especially violent crime, is exceedingly low compared to what one may be used to in the US and one is at little risk of being assaulted or robbed, unlike similar slum areas of the US. I wouldn't wander around at night, though, epecially since it seems to be full of drunks if the number of empty beer bottles and cans is any indication. Even the dogs, as is common in Turkey, are docile and in my experience they at most just look at you without even moving (the government vaccinates and tags them and takes steps to make sure that they are not dangerous but otherwise leaves the dogs in the city if they pose no threat and I have never encountered a wandering dog in Turkey that seemed even slightly threatening, though it's obviously a possible danger).
The Theodosian Walls sucessfully protected Byzantium from attack by land for over a thousand years and looking at their remains its easy to see why. This vast defensive structure, consisting of three walls, the inner two punctuated by guard towers and completed by a moat is a most formidable barrier. I wouldn't want to storm it.
Of course what you see today has been rebuilt, repaired and added to over the centuries - a process that started less than a century after they were built when they had to be largely reconstructed after an earthquake.
Istanbul's land walls are one of the most impressive remains of the city's Byzantine past. Pierced by monumental gates and strengthened by towers, the encompass the old city centre like a great arc, stretching all the way from Yedikule on the Sea of Marmara to Ayvansary on the Golden Horn, over a distance of 6,5 kilometres with 11 fortified gates and 192 towers.
The Constantinople wall is 7km long, and as old as byzantine rulers, it will draw your attention at any case since it’s all over the city, any direction you go- you see it. My hotel was behind the wall so every time I took the taxi, we went in and out the city wall, that was fun and I saw it really close. The picture you see reminded me a story from my daughter’s Children Bible. When Rehab was saving the Jewish spies, she let them out of her house through the window that led directly out of city wall. I couldn’t imagine the window that would be kind of out of wall. Well, after seeing this fragment of the Theodosian wall I have no doubt it happened exactly as described.
This is the one Gate of Propontis (MARMARA SEA) wals of Istanbul.It s between Samatya gate
and Yedikule Fortress.
It s a very old quarter with quite life and poor people.Also there is an Armenian Church SURP HOVANNES and in the garden of the church .
When you come into central Istanbul from Ataturk Airport, you're likely to come across the 5th century city walls. They are a very impressive site indeed. Built by Emperor Theodosius between A.D. 412-422, the walls are very tall and thick to boot, it's no wonder that were breached by attackers from the west only twice in a thousand years. The first time was during the Fourth Crusade in the 13th century and the last was when Mehmet the Conqueror came calling to complete the Muslim Conquest in 1453. Although portions of it are in disrepair since normal maintenance and upkeep stopped in the late 19th century, you can see pretty much all 6.5 km of the wall in some state of condition. Some of the major gates have been renovated and restored. You can start from the Yedikule Fortress on the south end and venture along its length to its northern end near the Golden Horn in Ayvansaray.
We happened across the walls on our aborted attempt to view Mihrimah Sultan Camii in Edirnekapi where the walls break for Fevzi Pasa Caddesi to come through. The towers on either side of the street there are huge and an equally huge Turkish flag flies from the north tower. There are also pedestrian gates in other parts of the walls, which is what we went through just south of the gate at Fevzi Pasa Caddesi. The walls are also a very short walk from the Kariye Muzesi so if you're in the neighborhood visiting the beautiful mosaics and frescoes, you might also want to take the short walk to see this 5th century engineering marvel.
Stretching in a long arc from Yediküle on the sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn, Constantinople's land walls saved the city from conquest on more than 20 occasions before finally succumbing to the Ottoman forces in 1453.
Built in the early 5th century, they are still one of the most impressive sights in the city. If you don't feel up to walking the full 7km, Yediküle Fortress, at the Marmara end of the walls offers good views along half the length of the ancient fortifications.
The Theodosian Walls, erected in 412 A.D., secured the four miles of the city vulnerable to a land invasion. To assure its impregnability, two sets of walls were built. The outer wall is six-and-a-half feet thick and 28 feet in height. The inner wall, built 65 feet from the outer wall, is 16 feet thick and about 40 feet in height. The walls included 96 towers, some as high as 65 feet, and 12 gates.
The Byzantine wall, also called the Theodosian wall, is 6,5 km long and goes from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn. It protected the Byzantines of Konstantinople from the 5th century until 1453 when Mehmet conquered the city. The wall has now been restored at many places.
There are also other vestiges of what was once the fastuous Constantinople. Some of them you see suddenly, beyond a corner of a street. Unfortunately, these are not maintained, history forgot them, time and people passing by without noticing them, except maybe the traveler who for a short time stops, wonders in front of the remains of times long passed and continues its journey.
Maybe you will understand now the disappointment of a reader about passed great times, with kings and princesses, who steps over history’s traces like a traveler, truly understanding the sense of the saying: SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI
( the big pic in the collage is taken right near Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Camii and the one from the right upper corner from the wall which surounds Gulhane Parki –first tram station from Sultanahmet toward Eminonu is Gulhane Parki)*
With 11 fortified gates and 192 towers, the big chain of doubled wall protected the city for over 1000 years. The walls stretched out 6.5 km from Marmara Sea to Golden Horn.Constantinople was one of the most besieged cities in the world, its aassailants included: Persian Darius, Athenian Alcibiades, Macedonian Philip the Second, the Arabs, the Bulgarians, the Russians, the armies of the Fourth Crusade and for four times the Turks.
( in the pics are the walls from Charsius Gate-Edirnekapi- placed at the intersection between Topkapi-Edirnekapi Caddesi, Savaklar Caddesi and Fevzi Pasa Caddesi. It is extremely easy to go there once you have a good Istanbul-streets map in your hand)*