Yedikule Fortress - Golden Gate, Istanbul
Porta Aurea (“The Golden Gate”), known in Turkish as Yedikule, was the main entrance to the city. Foreign dignitaries were welcomed at this gate, which used to be lavishly decorated with sculpted elephants.
After the Ottoman takeover in 1453, Porta Aurea was expanded into a fortress. Walking the dimly lit stairways of its seven towers, it is easy imagining yourself back in time. Once at the top, visitors are treated to a panoramic view of the city and the Sea of Marmara. Concerts and festivals are regularly held inside the fortress.
Towards the Marmara end of the land ramparts to the Yedikule Fortress- literally Seven Towers. Constructed in the middle of the Golden Gate by Sultan Mehmed, three new towers were added to the original Byzantine towers to form a five-sided structure. Never used for military purposes, it instead acted as an Ottoman Treasury until the reign of Sultan Murad III (1547- 1595). It is most famous, though as a prison of both foreign and native captives. Sultan Osman II met his death here, as did many unfortunate foreign ambassadors.
Restored in 1959, the castle is now open as a museum and hosts festivals and concerts
A perfect park with large tulip display ...
Its mentioned as "Soganli Bitkiler Park" and also as "International Peace Garden". According to the guard there, the park has three names.Despite its presence in a corner created by fast-moving roads, the park is gorgeous. The location is prime: it lies along the old city walls and across the way from the Sea of Marmara and a different park of pathways and grassy areas that hugs the shoreline.
"Soganiı Bitkiler / International Peace Garden Park" sits along the "Land Walls of Theodosius", a second set of city walls built by Emperor Theodosius II in the 400s to protect the burgeoning city of Constantinople. The walls stretched from here, on the Sea of Marmara, to the Golden Horn, enclosing the city, which at that time was basically limited to the peninsula.
By far the coolest thing about Istanbul is its somewhat forgotten, old historic bits like this. Visitors visit the monuments in the old city like the "Hagia Sophia" and the "Blue Mosque" but the Yedikule Fortress and the Land Walls of Theodosius mostly just sit there unbothered and observing.
Although the park is relatively large, it's nothing compared to the length of the city walls. At the end of the park, you can more or less follow the line of walls and reach the Golden Gate (visible off in the distance) and the entrance to Yedikule Fortress. The fortress was built in the 1450s by conquering sultan Mehmet II, who smartly used the existing wall structure and just had three more towers built, creating an enclosed fortification. "Yedikule Fortress" was mostly used as a prison and execution site.
Enjoy your time in this amazing park .... :)
Once you pay the trifling sum to enter Yedikule, you might be as disappointed with the unkempt grounds within as you were with the parking lanes and the teeter-totters without. Trudging through these tall grasses is daily performed only by a handful of foreigners and the curious odd Turk, who frequents these quarters even less.
The Fortress of the Seven Towers was built around the Porta Aurea (Golden Gate) constructed circa AD390 by Theodosius I and through which Emperors entered the city. The gate became part of the city walls, buolt during the reign of Theodsius II, and then after the Ottoman capture of Istanbul, Memhet the Conqueror began remodelling the fortress adding 5 towers until it took the shape that it retains today.
The fortress was originally used as a treasury but then became a prison in which foreign dignitaries, members of the ruling elite and deposed Sultan’s were held – and executed. Now as well as being a historical attraction the fortress is used as a concert arena.
You can still see the remains of the Golden Gate - now bricked up – and also the aptly descriptive Well of Blood into which served heads were tossed. The great pleasure of Yedikule though is scrambling up and down the fortifications, in and out of towers and gazing out over the Sea of Mamara and towards Sultanahmet in the distance.
Its not for the faint hearted, there are no guard rails on the fortifications or ramparts, it’s uneven underfoot, quite vertiginous and some of the metal stairwells in the towers are a little rickety. So be careful, however, it is also fantastic – we had the place more or less to ourselves and it was great fun exploring the different levels in the hollow towers, scaring ourselves by peeping over edges or just leaning on the walls and staring at the distant ships making their way across the Sea of Mamara.
Open: Mon, Tue and Thurs-Sun 9.30am-4.30pm
The Yedikule (Seven Towers) city gate is located along the 5,632 meter-long land walls, which start at the end of the sea walls. It is one of the main entrances to the city. Over the gate, there is the double-headed eagle of Byzantium. Inside Yedikule is another imposing gate, built in 390 by Theodosius I as the arch of victory for the commanders returning home from victorious battle. It was later turned into one of the fortress gates after Theodosius II added the new city walls to the old ones. The Byzantines called this gate Porta Aurea (golden gate). After the conquest, the Turks added new fortress which formed an independent castle and gave it the name Yedikule. The Ottoman Treasury was kept in this tower for a while, and it was turned into a prison for political prisoners in later times. Only the ruins of the minaret of the mosque which was built for the guardians can be seen today. The ruins of the amphitheater also remain.
I've read that concert performances are occasionally given inside the castle grounds, but the overrun stage in the corner seems to imply that the conductor had long ago lost his baton. Trudging up the stairs is where the meat of Yedikule lies.
Some of the cavities in the keeps once kept political prisoners and other malefactors from seeing the outer light. Certain cells have prisoners' inscriptions in several languages, including Greek and Armenian, most of them centuries old.
Yediküle is one of the best preserved parts of the City Wall surrounding old Istanbul. I couldn't really see the 7 towers but the site was definitely worth a visit.
You can walk up to the wall, which is about 3 stories high. There're many staircases but only one has a railing. You should also be very careful once you're up there as there's no protection on one side of the wall.
Surely Rumeli Hisarı seems much grander but Yediküle is much easier to get to -- just 15 minutes by the suburban train.
Yedi kule means "seven towers" ...“Yedikule Fortress and the Dungeons” were built by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II. BC, in the 5th century’s first two quarters on the right of coastal road while going to Bakırköy district from Sarayburnu of the historical peninsula. During the Byzantine period, the construction had four towers and with the conquest of Istanbul three towers were added by Fatih Sultan Mehmet and it started to be called as “Seven Tower Fortress and Dungeons”.
Armory Tower (Northern Pylon)
The tower had been used as an arsenal and a prison for a long time during the Ottoman period. For this reason, the tower has been names as “Armory Tower”.
Flag tower is positioned on the “Golden Door” at the entrance of “Seven Tower Fortress and Dungeons”. In ancient times, flag fluctuation was on the tower so it has been named as “Flag Tower”.
Sultan Ahmet III Tower
The tower couldn’t arrive until today because of dozens of earthquakes. It has been called as “Sultan Ahmet III Tower” because he supported to repairs.
Dungeon Tower (Tower of the Inscriptions)
The tower is one of the two towers used as a prison. “Yanan Kasır Pavilion” (Burning Pavilion) is placed next to the tower and it was damaged by a fire.
This tower is located next to the “Burning Pavilion” again. The tower was used as a dungeon in the Byzantine era.
Tower of the Treasury
With the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, treasury of the Ottoman Empire had been kept in this tower until Sultan Murat III’s period, so name of “Treasury Tower” was given to the tower.
Young Osman Tower (South Pylon)
After Sultan Osman II (Young Osman) had taken the throne, the outbreak of the “Janissary Revolt” started. This uprising couldn’t be finished, so Young Osman was taken as prisoner and held in the tower by Janissaries then he was murdered. For this reason, the tower took the name “Young Osman Tower”.
Seven Tower Fortress and Dungeons is the largest “outdoor museum” of Istanbul also it is visited by local and foreign tourists with great interest.
The towers, keeps and castellated ramparts are the real thrill in Yedikule. Just watch your balance. It's a long drop down into the courtyard, and the stairs admitting you to the ramparts are narrow.
YEDIKULE is the 7 Towers Fortress that's situated at the point where the sea & land wall meet. The best preserved section of the wall runs for about 3 km to as far as the Topkapi Palace!