Anadolu Hisari

Anadolu Hisari

Anadolu Hisari (Anadoluhisari), translated as the Anatolian Castle, is a medieval fortress in Turkey built by the great grandfather of Mehmet the Conqueror, Sultan Beyazid I. Anadolu Hisari is not open to the public, however, the 15th century Rumeli Fortress is.

Anadolu Hisari history

Known historically as Guzelce Hisar, ‘the Beauteous Castle’, Anadolu Hisari was built between 1393 and 1394 on the commission of Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I as part of his preparation to siege the then-Byzantine city of Constantinople. The fortress was constructed over 7,000 square metres at the narrowest point of the Bosphurus, controlling passage along the river.

Constantinople was blockaded from 1394, but Bayezid’s campaign was interrupted by the Crusade of Nicopolis (a European alliance against the Ottomans) and ended with his defeat at the Battle of Ankara by the Emir of Timurid. The defeat led to an eleven-year civil war, also known as the Ottoman Interregnum, ending when Mehmed I became Ottoman sultan in 1413.

It was Mehmed II, his grandson, who reinforced Anadolu Hisari with a two-metre-thick wall and three watch towers, among further extensions that included a warehouse and living quarters. This second fortification was part of a renewed plan to conquer Constantinople, and Mehmed built a sister fort across the Bosphorus river called Rumelihisari, the two working together in 1453 to control traffic into Constantinople.

Ultimately, it was this strategy that helped the Ottomans to make Constantinople their new imperial capital, Istanbul.

After the Ottomans captured Constantinople, Anadolu Hisari became a customs house and military prison but after a few centuries fell into disrepair. When the Ottomans fell and the Republic of Turkey was established, the site passed to the state who restored Anadolu Hisari in the 1990s.

Anadolu Hisari today

Today, Anadolu Hisari provides an integral part of the historic picture of Ottoman superiority over the Bosphurus, among timber seashore homes that define the contemporary landscape. The fortress is a historical site but is unfortunately not accessible to the public. However, you can still gain a real sense of the fortress’ dominance over the surrounding area when viewing from the local quay.

Getting to Anadolu Hisari

You can reach Anadolu Hisari by public transport from Metro stops Boğaziçi Üniversitesi or Nispetiye, both a 20 minute walk away. If renting a car, there is a large car park across Göksu Creek on MÜ Anadoluhisarı Kampüsü.


Anadolu ve Rumeli Hisarı

Anadolu Hisarı

İsmini bulunduğu semtten alan Anadolu Hisarı, Güzelce Hisarı olarakta bilinmektedir. Göksu Deresi’nin İstanbul Boğazına döküldüğü yerde bulunan Anadolu Hisarı, 7 dönümlük bir alan üzerine kurulmuştur. Yıldırım Beyazıt zamanında 1393 yılında yapımına başlanılan Hisar, 1395 yılında bitirilmiştir.

İç ve dış kale ile bu kalelerin surlarıyla çevrili olan Hisar ait üç gözetleme kulesi mevcuttur. Hisarın ilk yapıldığı dönemde giriş kapısının olmadığı ve iç kale surlarına asma bir köprü vasıtasıyla ulaşım sağlandığını söylenmekte.

Anadolu Hisarı 1453 yılında gerçekleşen İstanbul Fethi sonrasında askeri önemini kaybetmesinin ardından, zamanla çevresi bir yerleşim bölgesi şeklini almıştır. Zamanın yıpratıcılığına ve depremlere boyun eğen hisarın büyük çoğunluğu görmek isterseniz eğer hayal kırıklığına uğrayacağınızı belirtmeliyiz. Günümüzde antik Jüpiter Tapınağının olduğu yere yapılan Anadolu Hisarının bazı bölümleri ise yıkılmış ve tam ortasından da yol geçirilmiştir.

Tüm bunlara rağmen bulunduğu konum itibariyle görsel güzelliği (belli bir bölümü için) koruyan hisarın denize hakim konumu ve Göksu Deresi’nin yanında olması birçok yerli ve yabancı turistin ilgisini çekmeye fazlasıyla yetmektedir.

Rumeli Hisarı

İstanbul boğazının en dar iki kıyısı üzerine (600 metre) Avrupa yakasında yaklaşık 30 dönümlük bir alana İstanbul’un fethinden önce yani 1452 yılında Fatih Sultan Mehmet tarafından ve 139 gün gibi kısa bir sürede tamamlanmıştır. Yüzyıl şartları düşüldüğünde, bu kadar büyük bir alanda askeri yapı olarak karşımıza çıkıyor olması ve malzeme insan gücü yönlendirmesindeki lojistik organizasyon ile inşa tekniği gerçekten her insanı hayretler içerisinde bırakmaktadır. Rumeli Hisarı’nın adı Fatih vakfiyelerinde, “Kulle-i Cedide”, Neşri tarihinde “Yenice Hisar” Kemalpaşazade, Aşıkpaşazade ve Nişancı tarihlerindeyse “Boğazkesen Hisarı” olarak geçmektedir.

Hisar’ın projesi, yapılacak surların, burçların, kapıların yerleri ve aralarındaki mesafeler Fatih Sultan Mehmet’in tespit ettiği hususlar dikkate alınarak Mimar Muslihiddin Ağa tarafından çizilip, projelendirilse de, padişah inşaatın her aşamasıyla yakından ilgilenmiştir. Uzaktan bakıldığı zaman Osmanlıca “Muhammed” biçiminde okunacak şekilde inşa edilen Hisar, denizden bakıldığında sol bölümün sorumluluğunu Saruca Paşa’ya, sağ bölümü sorumluluğunu Zağanos Paşa’ya, kıyıdaki kuleyi Halil Paşa’nın denetimine verirken, deniz tarafındaki bölüme de bizzat kendisi ilgilenmiş. Kulelerin yapımını denetleyen paşaların adlarını ise kulelere verilmiş. Bunların dışında on üç küçük burç ve Hisarpeçe’nin üzerinde bir küçük burç dahil olmak üzere toplam on yedi burç yer almaktadır.

Güneye bakan kulenin yakınında, cephane ve erzak mahzenlerine giden yolların ucunda, 2 gizli kapısı da bulunan Hisarın, biri tıkalı iki su mecrası, ikisi kaybolmuş üç çeşmesi vardır. Hisar’ın içerisinde restoresi tamamlanmış bir adette Cami bulunmaktadır.

Hisarın deniz müzesine dönüştürülmesi için 1917’de bir proje hazırlanmış ise de, Birinci Dünya Savaşının sonunda bundan vazgeçilmiş. 1953’te baştan sona restorasyon geçiren Hisar’ın, Kaleiçi Mahallesi istimlak edilerek tamamı müze haline getirilmiştir. Müzede sergi salonu ve depo olmadığı için savaş topları, gülleler ve Haliç’i kapattığı söylenen zincirin bir parçasından oluşan eserleri ise bahçesinde görmeniz mümkündür. Tarihle kalmanız ümidiyle…

Rumeli Hisarı

Halil Paşa Kulesi

Caminin olduğu yerde daha önceden rumeli konserleri verilmekteydi şimdi cami restorasyon geçirip büyültüldüğü için artık verilmiyor.

Çavuşin(Nicephorus Phocas)Kilisesi

Göreme-Avanos yolu üzerinde ve Göreme'ye 2,5km uzaklıkta olan bu kilise tahminen 964-965 yıllarında İmparator Nicephorus&hellip

Kızıl Kule

Adını taşlarının renginden alan ve 13.yüzyılda 1.Alaaddin Keykubat döneminde, Halepli yapı ustası Ebu Ali Reha&hellip

St. Nicolas (Gemiler) Adası

St. Aziz Nicolas (Gemiler Adası) Fethiye Körfezinin doğu kısmında yer alan ve sadece tekne turlarıyla&hellip


Istanbul’s Castles, Towers and Columns

A 14th century relic of the Ottoman Empire's first attempt to conquer Istanbul, Anatolian Fortress is located on the Asian shore of Istanbul at the narrowest point of the Bosphorus strait. The Sultan Yildirim Bayezit built this fortress in 1393 on the ruins of a Byzantine temple dedicated to Zeus. It's much smaller in size when you compare with Rumelihisari fortress lying on the European side, just on the opposite. Today, Anadoluhisari is an open air museum with nothing much to see apart its walls and old wooden houses around it.

Rumelihisari

Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror built Rumeli Fortress in just four months in 1452 and directly opposite to Anadoluhisari fortress in preparation for the final attack on Constantinople (modern Istanbul), which led to the downfall of the Byzantine Empire. Until some years ago the fortress used to host many concerts and dramatic performances in its amphitheatre usually during the summer months. The fortress is open to the public as a museum everyday, except on Wednesdays.

Yedikule

This seven towered fortress was built in the time of Sultan Fatih Mehmet to protect the treasury. During Murat III's reign, the treasury protected at Yedikule was relocated to the Topkapi Palace and Yedikule began to be used as a dungeon. The place of imprisonment of many foreign ambassadors and Ottoman statesman, as well as a place of execution for some, the fortress was last used as a prison in 1831. It then became a dwelling for the lions of Topkapi Palace, and later gunpowder manufacturing place. Today the fortress is a museum and also used to host open air concerts in its inner courtyard during the summer months, but nowadays it's closed to public and waiting for the restoration works.

Galata Kulesi

A 55 meter tower providing a panoramic view of the old town, Galata Kulesi was built in the 14th century by the Genoese as part of the defense wall surrounding their district of Galata directly opposite Byzantium (Constantinopolis). The Genoese used to trade with the Byzantines and the tower was used for the surveillance of the Harbor in the Golden Horn. After the conquest of Constantinople by Ottoman sultan Mehmet II, it served to detect fires in the city. The tower now houses a small restaurant on top. Today there is an elevator but there are still three more floors to climb by the stairs to get on the 360 panoramic terrace. It's open from early morning until late afternoon everyday.

Kiz Kulesi

Kiz Kulesi is a 12th century stone tower erected on a rock at the entrance of the Bosphorus strait by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Komnenos. The tower, which has served as a prison and a lighthouse in the past, became the source of many legends in ancient days, such as Leander's or Maiden's. It's now open to the public as a cafeteria & elegant restaurant which hosts small concerts and meetings as well. Transportation to the Tower is made by private shuttle boats from both shores of the Bosphorus at certain times of the day.

Beyazit Kulesi

Beyazit Tower was built by architect Senekerim Kalfa of the Balyan family in 1828 under the reign of sultan Mahmud II. The tower is 85 meters in height and has four floors, 180 steps staircase to the top. It was built overlooking the Golden Horn for the purpose of detecting fires in Istanbul baskets during the day and large red, green and white lanterns in the evenings were hung on the tower to indicate that there was a fire in the city. Today, the tower indicates the next day's weather in Istanbul by changing lights blue means nice weather, green means rain, yellow means fog, and red means snow. The tower is recently restored but unfortunately it's still closed to the public at the moment, and stands in the grounds of University of Istanbul.

Dikilitas

The Obelisk was originally erected in the 16th century BC by the Pharaoh Thutmosis III in honor of the God of Sun Amon Ra in the city of Teb, Egypt, in front of the temple of Luxor. Brought to Istanbul by emperor Theodosius I in 390 AD for the decoration of the ancient Hippodrome. The approximately 19 meter high obelisk is covered on all four sides with hieroglyphic pictograms and stands on a marble base with many friezes depicting the Emperor and his family in the Hippodrome. After decoding the hieroglyphs it has been discovered that last 5 or 6 meters of the Obelisk is missing from the bottom, probably was broken during the transportation.

Stone Obelisk

The Stone Obelisk column was erected by Constantine VII, known also as Porphyrogenetus, around 944 AD for the decoration of the Byzantine Hippodrome. It was made of limestone blocks and completely covered with bronze slabs bearing inscriptions which were dedications made to his grand father Basileus I. Unfortunately all bronze slabs were removed during the rule of the 4th Crusade who melted them to make coins and weapons, therefore none of them survived until our days. The column is about 32 meters high and rests on a small marble base.

Serpentine Column

Originally this column was erected in 479 BC in front of Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece, to commemorate the naval victory of the Greeks over the Persians and to show their respect to Apollo for winning the battle after consulting his oracle. The bronze column was formed by 3 intertwined snakes and names of the 31 Greek city-states that participated in the war were written on them. It's also said that there was a big golden pot on top of the snake heads. The column was brought to Constantinople in the 4th century AD by emperor Constantine I, for the decoration of the Hippodrome. The Serpentine column was originally 8 meters high but today only 5.30 meters left because nobody enjoyed this statue here being the snakes representation of the devil, so everybody took a piece off to destroy it. Therefore, the 3 snake heads were also destroyed and only pieces of one of the heads is found during the excavations and it was taken to the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul.

Goths' Column

The Goths column stands at the outer courtyard of Topkapi Palace, in Gulhane Park, and surrounded by trees. It's one of the oldest columns from the Roman period, which was erected probably in the 3rd or 4th centuries AD, carved from a single piece of stone and decorated with a Corinth style capital containing an eagle relief. Because of the inscriptions mentioning the victory over the Goths, it's called as Goths Column. The column is 15 meters high and rests on a small base.

Cemberlitas Column

The column, known as Cemberlitas (column with rings) in Turkish, was brought to Constantinople from the Temple of Apollo by emperor Constantinus I between 325 - 328 AD. There was a statue of Apollo on top which was replaced by a cross during Christianity. The column symbolizes also the end of Pagan tradition on the Byzantine lands. It was erected in the middle of an oval square known as Forum Constantini, located on the second hill of the city. The cross was removed after the Conquest of Constantinople during the Ottoman period. The 35 meter high column was damaged by big fires and weather conditions during the ages so Sultan Mustafa II re-enforced the column with iron rings. The marble capital is from the 12th century and the reinforcing pedestal from the 18th.

Kiztasi Column

The Kiztasi column was erected around 450 AD and dedicated to the Byzantine Emperor Marcianus. It's made of 17 meter-high granite and rests on a marble base. The Corinthian style base is decorated with a relief depicting angels (or victory goddess) therefore it was called "Kiz Tasi" by the local people, meaning "Maiden's Stone" in Turkish. Today the column stands in Fatih district.

Arcadios Column

The column is located at Cerrahpasa neighborhood. It was erected in the 5th century AD by emperor Theodosius I and dedicated to Arcadios with a statue on top. According to old sources and travelers, the column was about 50 meters high and decorated with friezes describing victories against Barbarians, but today only the pedestal remains. The column was badly damaged during the earthquakes and it was strengthen by banding metal rings during the Ottoman period.

Theodosius Triumphal Arch

Theodosius I erected a huge Triumphal Arch which was crowned with the statue of the emperor and a column in the center of old Forum Tauri (today's Beyazit Square) in the 4th century AD. Some marble pieces of the Arch can still be seen today in its original location but the column and monumental fountain were destroyed by an earthquake in 557 and completely vanished around 16th century being used as construction material. Some of the pieces were used in the construction of a Turkish Bath next door, of which friezes can still be noticed today on its walls and base.

Million Stone

It's located at Sultanahmet neighborhood, in the center of old city. The Million Stone was always put in the center of the city and distances to all corners of the Byzantine Empire were once measured starting from this point. The stone was erected under the reign of Constantine the Great around 4th century AD in the northeastern corner of Augusteion Square, marking the starting point of an extensive road network.

Aqueduct of Valens

This is a Late Roman and Early Byzantine period aqueduct built probably around 4th century AD connecting two hills (out of seven) of ancient Constantinople over this little valley. It's known as the Aqueduct of Valens, and today local people call it as Bozdogan Kemeri (Arch) in Turkish. Originally it was used to bring water to Istanbul from the springs of Belgrade forest, about 30 km north of the city.

During the late Byzantine period it wasn't used much and fell into ruins, then restored by the Ottomans after the Conquest of the city and served for some time to carry water again. Over the centuries, it was badly damaged because of disuse and roads and buildings constructed on and around it. Today only bits and pieces left from the original aqueducts on its way from the forest to the city center, and in Sarachane neighborhood there is a 900 meter long part of it, namely Bozdogan arch. The Municipality of Istanbul started the restorations in 1998.

Tower of Justice

The Tower of Justice is a part of Topkapi Palace and stands in its second courtyard, right above Council Chamber next to the Harem complex. It was built under the reign of Sultan Mehmet II and used as a watch tower and surveillance of the Golden Horn. Several restorations were made to the tower and the last one was made by the architect Sarkis Balyan. The name of the tower comes from the Divan Room (Council Chamber), where there was a small window on the wall from which the sultan himself (or his spy) used to listen the Viziers behind a curtain and if he didn't like any thoughts then ordered to kill or imprison that member of the Council, so this was of course the justice of the sultan.

Dolmabahce Clock Tower

The Clock Tower was built right after Dolmabahce Palace by Sultan Abdulhamid II between 1890 - 1895, at the entryway of the Palace. The architect was Sarkis Balyan again, the imperial architect. The clock has a European design and is 27 meter high with four floors, and on two sides the Tugra (monogram) of the sultan can be noticed. The Paul Garnier Clock was installed by master clockmaker Johann Meyar and its mechanism was partially equipped with electronics in 1979. The clock tower is recently restored hence its clock is perfectly functioning.

Etfal Hospital Clock Tower

The Clock Tower was built by Sultan Abdulhamid II in the 19th century in the grounds of Hamidiye Etfal Hospital (Sisli Etfal Hospital today). The architect was Mehmed Sukru Bey. It was made of marble and local stones, has an height of 20 meters, and the Tugra (monohram) of the Sultan Abdulhamid II can be seen in the front.

Yildiz Clock Tower

The clock Tower was built in 1890 by Sultan Abdulhamid II in the courtyard of the Yildiz Hamidiye Mosque. It has an octagonal shape with three floors. The first floor has four separate inscriptions, the second floor contains a thermometer and a barometer, the top floor is a clock room, and there is a compass rose on the roof. The clock was repaired in 1993.

Nusretiye Clock Tower

The Clock Tower was built in neo-classical style by Sultan Abdulmecid next to the Nusretiye Mosque, at Tophane neighborhood. The tower is 15 meters high and contains the Tugra (monogram) of the sultan on the entrance. Unfortunately today the Clock Tower is in bad conditions and the original clock and its mechanism couldn't survive until our days.


Rumeli Hisari

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The Fortress of Rumeli Hisari may not be Istanbul’s most popular tourist attraction, but the role it played in the city’s history is more than noteworthy. Constructed between 1451 and 1452 by Mehmed II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, it’s located on the European shores of the Bosphorus, often seen from afar via cruise ships.

Seeking to besiege and capture Constantinople, Mehmed learned from his father’s previous attempts that naval strategies against the Byzantine fleet were crucial. He ordered the construction of a large-scale fortification that could control maritime traffic along the strait. The location Mehmed chose for this new fortress was the narrowest point on the Bosphorus, where a Roman fortification was located that was once used by the Byzantines and the Genoese as a prison.

Its original name, Boğazkesen Castle, means “throat cutter” in Turkish, the “throat” referring to the Bosphorus Strait. The modern Rumeli Hisari means “the fortress in the land of the Romans,” which refers to Byzantine Europe. Likewise, the citadel constructed on the other side of the strait is named Anadoluhisari, or the Anatolian Castle.

Allegedly, the layout of Rumeli Hisari was deliberately designed in the shape of the name Muhammad—both the Muslim prophet and Mehmed II himself—written in Arabic script when read from above.

After the famous Fall of Constantinople in May 1453, the fortress went on to serve as a customs checkpoint, but eventually lost its strategic importance and became a prison during the 17th-century. It was partially destroyed by an earthquake of 1509, and a fire in 1746. Each time, it was immediately repaired and restored. By the 19th-century, however, the fortress had been abandoned.

A residential neighborhood was then formed within the walls of Rumeli Hisari, but the inhabitants were relocated in 1953 on the order of President Celal Bayar, followed by extensive restoration work. In 1960, the fortress was reopened as a historical museum and has been so ever since, complete with an open-air theatre made for concerts.


Anadolu Hisari Fort

This fort is along the Bosphorus, right across the bigger and much more magnificent Rumeli Hisar fortress built by Mehmet the Conquerer ( Fatih Sultan Mehmet). This smaller fort was built in 1395 bu Yildirim Beyazit but was extended by Fatlh also.

The neighborhood is very nice and quiet. There is a river called Goksu, reaching the Bosphorus at this point and there are nice restaurants and cafes by the river and also by the sea.

This place can be easily reached by bus or taxi from Uskudar or by taking a ferry from Arnavutkoy or Bebek. Each ferry stop takes only 5 minutes and this is a very convenient way to reach Anadoluhisari, Kandilli or Kanlica from the European side. Use Sehir Hatlari Saatleri web site to see the timetable.
I would recommend Big Chefs by the sea and river, Marine by the river for a good meal. Avoid weekends though.


Rumeli Hisarı Fortress at Istanbul – A Castle and a City Between Two Worlds

The fortress of Rumeli Hisarı, as seen from the Bosphorus.

The Fortress of Rumeli Hisarı, located on the European shore of the Bosphorus and in the northernmost district of Istanbul, is a striking monument.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors to this great city follow the long-established tradition of taking a Bosphorus cruise and see the impressive castle from afar. Few of them realise that the building played a role in the Siege and Fall of Constantinople in 1453 and that its very shape and details exemplify the historical developments that led to this world-changing event, the end of the Byzantine Empire after over a thousand years and the establishment of the Ottoman Empire as a major player for five centuries.

The new open-air theatre and the lower tower (Halil Paşa Tower), overlooking the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Bridge.

Distinguished by its historical significance, its highly scenic setting overlooking the Fatih Sultan Bridge that links Europe and Asia, and its sheer monumentality, the site includes remains of the fortification walls with towers and gates as well as cisterns, fountains and a mosque. It currently functions as a cultural centre with an open-air theatre and a museum, set within the lower part of the recently built Bosphorus University Campus. In a city where there is so much to visit and discover – Byzantine churches, walls and cisterns, Ottoman palaces and mosques, bazaars, food and spices – and at a place where East meets West, Rumeli Hisarı Fortress is an off-the-beaten-track site, rarely listed among the “Top 10” or “Top 30 things to do and see”. Notwithstanding that lack of fame, it is a highlight on our Exploring Istanbul tour. We spend a day exploring the Bosphorus and its shores by private cruise and by bus, on an itinerary that has been carefully designed in order to include the fortress and unveil the Bosphorus straits and with them the city’s geostrategic significance.

Anadolu Hisarı, built 1393-1394 on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus.

The name Rumeli Hisarı, meaning “Fortress in the land of the Romans”, i.e. on the European or Byzantine side of the Bosphorus, is an afterthought. Initially, it was called Boğazkesen Castle, literally the “Throat Cutter”, as its purpose was to cut the straits – or the throat – that is the Bosphorus. It was built in 1452 by the order of Fatih Sultan Mehmed, famous as Mehmed the Conqueror or simply Mehmed II, by the narrowest point of the Bosphorus channel, just opposite Anadolu Hisarı – another Ottoman fortress located on the Anatolian side and constructed about 60 years earlier (1390-1395) as an observation post and safe point for a small number of Ottoman troops.

Despite damages, repairs and modifications throughout the centuries, Rumeli Hisarı still breathes history - its great significance lies in some specific and well-defined elements, closely related with the general circumstances and innovations that shaped the history of the Late Middle Ages and the pivotal events it was involved in. At the outset, however, two general points about castles and fortifications should be noted. First, it is important to keep in mind that talking about castles always means engaging with the topic of warfare and of the foreign and defence policies of states, no matter what period. Second, the development of medieval castles followed the military developments and standards of their period. This applies to all of the major functions of castles, namely serving as a) military fortresses b) as seats of local rulers, or c) as residential areas for the an area's entire population, or d) as a combination of those options.

A plan of Rumeli Hisarı (by Wikimedia Commons User Bakayna).

The 15th century was that crucial time when the introduction of new materials (gunpowder) and new fighting techniques (firearms and complex siege machinery) led to dramatic changes affecting the conduct of warfare as well as the design of new fortresses. Hence, Rumeli Hisarı’s significance is due to some new features of military architecture, underlining the development of warfare technology at this fleeting but pivotal point in time, together with its contribution to the evolution of the developing Ottoman military. A further factor of significance is certainly the fortress’s key strategic location and its function during the Ottoman conquest, the final fall of Constantinople and the entire 11-century-old Byzantine Empire.

The Conqueror's Tower (Fatih), named after Sultan Mehmed II, dominates the northern side of the fortress.

Numbers, new forms and new powerful technologies

Rumeli Hisarı occupies a total area of 30.000 square metres (ca. 7.4 acres) and really looks more like a small walled town dominating the sea. The walls enclose an irregular, roughly rectangular area, its shape determined by the lie of the land. They include three large towers (two on the andward side and one by the shore) and thirteen small watchtowers of different shapes placed along the walls between the main towers. The major tower in the north takes the form of a 28m (92ft) high 9-storey cylinder with a diameter of 23 (76ft).

The polygonal Halil Pasha Tower by the waterfront.

A second big tower of the same shape and approximately the same size rises at the southern side. At the waterfront and in the middle of the seaward fortress wall stands the polygonal – 12-sided to be exact – Halil Pasha Tower, also 9 stories tall and with the same diameter. Conical wooden roofs covered with lead originally crowned these towers, as known for example from the very famous and impressive Galata Tower, built by the Crusaders around a century earlier. Three main gates placed next to the main towers offer access, while several smaller entrances and secret passages provided supplies to the arsenals and the food storage units.

The impressive Galata Tower, 67m (220ft) high and built by the Crusaders in 1348, today stands in the centre of modern Istanbul. The current conical roof was restored after damages in the mid 1960s.

All fortification walls and those of the towers are of 6 to 7m (19 to 23ft) thickness, corresponding to the needs created by the recent development of cannon technology. So, the width of the walls at Rumeli Hisarı was thrice that of the walls of Constantinople, which was 2.5 meters (8.2 ft).

Section of the thick and strongly-built curtain walls (after restoration).

The three huge towers, a major and typical element of Ottoman fortifications, in conjunction with the innovative emplacements for defensive cannons and the thick walls protecting the fortress against enemy guns, turned Rumeli Hisarı into a highly protected stronghold. This distinguishes it from the simpler and more old-fashioned Ottoman fortifications in the Balkans peninsula (e.g. in Albania, at Edirne and in Thrace).

Within half a century, the Ottomans had developed the best and most massive cannons of their time: the new castle with its strong walls was to be used as the base point for Ottoman offensive attacks, whilst the cannon ball technology of the period proved too ineffective to destroy walls of such thickness.

Plan of the Venetian Bastion Fortress of the city of Chania on Crete, 1536.

The introduction of gunpowder and the spread of artillery in the second half of the 15th century created a revolution in all aspects of defensive and offensive warfare, affecting both weapons and fortifications. Clearly, the Republic of Venice and its expert architects and engineers played a leading role in the evolution of military defence architecture, especially in the Aegean. They introduced several innovations by adding new defensive structures to existing forts, widening the moats, increasing the thickness of the walls and of the wall-walks for the placement and movement of cannons. Thus, during the 16th century, the Venetians completely changed the preceding medieval castles by introducing strong, squat and angular bastions with several projections and sloping walls based on the system of “side-fire”- aiming to leave attackers exposed and unprotected.

The wide moat and part of the 'bastion system' of the Fortress of Rhodes (16th century), finally besieged and conquered by the Turks in 1522.

The Ottomans were never as advanced as the Venetians and other Europeans in regard to their defensive architecture – thus, they suffered several defeats by the Venetians and the Knights of Rhodes, until they finally came to besiege their fortified cities. However, the situation at Constantinople in 1453 was different: here, the Ottomans had the upper hand in terms of both attack and defense. Their dominance in both regards was beyond question and moreover, the recovery of the Byzantine Empire was beyond the achievable or imaginable by this time - as we shall see.

It's the economy, stupid – Byzantine decline, Ottoman apogee and the giant bombards

Of course, such superiority should be seen in context the state of instability and crisis prevailing in Europe during the 14th century: general economic and trade issues, the Venetian-Genoese quarrels, the emergence of new trading centres in Egypt and, last but not least, the extensive monetary crisis of the Byzantine Empire.

Ankara Castle, where the 1402 catastrophic battle against the Timurid Empire halted the Ottomans' plans to besiege Constantinople - for a while.

For several scholars, the real final blow to Byzantium was caused long before 1453, namely by the Fourth Crusade of 1204. During that event, the empire’s treasuries had been plundered, so that in spite of the recapture of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1261, the Byzantine state was never able to recover. As a matter of fact, many political and financial problems continued to torment Byzantium even after 1261. From the middle of the 14th century until the final sack and collapse in 1453, civil wars, the plague and demographic issues, high taxation and a series of chronically misguided geopolitical and economic measures disrupted the formerly balanced fiscal cycle of the empire. The accumulation of Byzantine capital in the hands of major landowners and few private individuals had further adverse effects, since a great part of it was invested in Italian trade companies and institutions. Additionally, the financial importance and prestige of Constantinople was challenged harshly and decisively by the Ottoman expansion in the Balkans and Asia Minor and the consequent long-term recalibration of trade networks in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Under these circumstances, the fall of Constantinople was only a matter of time. The mid-15th century was the appropriate time for the ascendant Ottoman power to enter the city and provide a suitable capital for its new Empire. Mehmed II was clearly the key figure of his period, not only because he changed the Ottoman Sultanate into an Empire, but also because he transformed the previously prevalent lightly armoured cavalry into a centralized armed force with several different infantry corps. His leadership along with the excellent military machine that he created and the capacities of the new artillery batteries devastated the walls of Constantinople and likewise the moral of the Byzantines. We know that one of the most important deficiencies of the earlier unsuccessful Ottoman siege of Constantinople (1422) had been a lack of heavy cannons. To this extent, the new huge cannons, those giant bombards, were among the big winners of the final 1453 siege.

The fortress, the sea and the cannons at the final siege

The enormous Dardanelles Gun is one of the few surviving examples of a 15th century Turkish bombard, such as those used by Mehmed's forces. Cast in 1464, it was last used in 1807 and is now on display near Portsmouth, England.

By the time of Mehmed II, Constantinople was surrounded on all sides by Ottoman territories: the new Sultan with his reformed army made his military preparations in his European capital, Edirne in Eastern Thrace. In 1452 he ordered the casting of new massive bronze cannons by Orban, the same master-craftsman and engineer who earlier had unsuccessfully approached the Byzantine Emperor in order to promote and sell his new superguns. Bronze cannons were, however, extremely expensive and thus unobtainable for the Byzantine state, whereas for Mehmed II they were the most extraordinarily well-suited weapons to destroy his enemy. The biggest of Orban’s monster guns, famed as the “Royal Cannon”, was made of solid bronze, 8.2m (27ft) long, with a diameter of 76cm (30?).

It was at that very time that Mehmed II decided to construct Rumeli Hisarı on the European shore – in order for it and its older counterpart on the Asian side to block all sea traffic to and from the Black Sea and to protect a series of smaller fortresses further inland which were ready to accept his new large cannons. Rumeli Hisarı’ first saw action in November 1452, when its guns opened fire on a pair of Venetian ships attempting to escape the scene.

Ironically, the monster cannon of Mehmed II turned out to be of limited use in destroying the city’s walls: eventually, its immobility and slow rate rendered it ineffective. The final resolution came, after several weeks of stalling, via the sea and through assaults by smaller but still massive cannons.

A night-time view of the Bosphorus and Bosphorus Bridge frum Rumeli Hisarı.

The Bosphorus was very well protected by Rumeli Hisarı and the smaller sea fortresses and thus blocked that sea route for the Byzantines and any external force. The Ottomans vessels, under the protection of the new cannon artillery, forced the Byzantine fleet to find refuge away from the sea walls, while at the same time the Ottoman army devised a brilliant trick to penetrate into the heart of the city, an intriguing anecdote from the 1453 siege (a topic to which we will surely return in a future post). From that time onwards, the Ottoman bombarded the city walls continuously and from all sides. The local population was exhausted, the numerous cracks in the walls could not be restored any longer and Constantinople fell after a bloody and dramatic siege on 29 May 1453.

In conclusion, Rumeli Hisarı is indeed a place of great significance a key structure standing in between two worlds during 1453, involved in inaugurating a new historical era and new international geopolitical balances that turned Constantinople for the second time in its long history into the capital of a newly-risen powerful Empire that was to be a major power for many centuries. It’s a perfect site to imagine the sounds, smells and images of battle, and to discover the Ottoman history and archaeology of Istanbul on our 1-week Exploring Istanbul tour, alongside with various gems from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman world, hamams, bazaars and aromas of a city that has always straddled the edge of two continents and two worlds.


Anadolu Hisari Fort

This fort is along the Bosphorus, right across the bigger and much more magnificent Rumeli Hisar fortress built by Mehmet the Conquerer ( Fatih Sultan Mehmet). This smaller fort was built in 1395 bu Yildirim Beyazit but was extended by Fatlh also.

The neighborhood is very nice and quiet. There is a river called Goksu, reaching the Bosphorus at this point and there are nice restaurants and cafes by the river and also by the sea.

This place can be easily reached by bus or taxi from Uskudar or by taking a ferry from Arnavutkoy or Bebek. Each ferry stop takes only 5 minutes and this is a very convenient way to reach Anadoluhisari, Kandilli or Kanlica from the European side. Use Sehir Hatlari Saatleri web site to see the timetable.
I would recommend Big Chefs by the sea and river, Marine by the river for a good meal. Avoid weekends though.


Anadolu Hisari Fort

This fort is along the Bosphorus, right across the bigger and much more magnificent Rumeli Hisar fortress built by Mehmet the Conquerer ( Fatih Sultan Mehmet). This smaller fort was built in 1395 bu Yildirim Beyazit but was extended by Fatlh also.

The neighborhood is very nice and quiet. There is a river called Goksu, reaching the Bosphorus at this point and there are nice restaurants and cafes by the river and also by the sea.

This place can be easily reached by bus or taxi from Uskudar or by taking a ferry from Arnavutkoy or Bebek. Each ferry stop takes only 5 minutes and this is a very convenient way to reach Anadoluhisari, Kandilli or Kanlica from the European side. Use Sehir Hatlari Saatleri web site to see the timetable.
I would recommend Big Chefs by the sea and river, Marine by the river for a good meal. Avoid weekends though.


Anadolu Hisari - Istanbul

Situated opposite to the Rumeli Fortress, Anadolu fortress ( Anadolu hisari) was constructed with the order of Yıldırım Beyazıd in 1393, during one of the sieges of Istanbul. The place of the construction site was initially holding a Christian Church. Anatolian fortress was, in that respect, set the grounds for the conquest of the Istanbul. Around the fortress, there are many ancient mansions that are contructed for Ottoman dignitaries and senior civil-servants during 18th and 19th centuries.

During the conquest of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmet (the conqueror) intended to prevent the city to get aid from the Danube and the Black Sea. So he decided that a second fortress should be constructed opposite to the Anadolu Hisari (Anadolu Fortress ). It ıncludes 3 towers and walls among them. The construction of the fortress was completed with streneous efforts of the 1.000 craftsmen and 2.000 workers within an unbeliveable time of 4 monts in 1452. In 1953, it was restored for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the conquest. It has a cannon museum and an open air museum used for concerts in summer time


Anadolu Hisari - History

An Istanbul Welcome at Yedikule Hisari

Originally built as the welcoming point for visitors from Europe and beyond, Yedikule Hisari is a castle/fortress that should certainly be on your Istanbul must visit list.

Known commonly in history as the ‘Fortress of Seven Towers’, Yedikule Hisari is located towards the edge of the city limits, but is one of the most well preserved and oldest fortresses to visit in Istanbul. At around 3 miles away from Sultanahmet, in a southwestern direction, it is surprisingly easy to reach Yedikule Hisari, and the effort will be more than worth it. There are rarely huge crowds here, probably because of the distance from the main part of Istanbul, and it is so well preserved, with fantastic views, that it will fill up your camera memory card, for sure!

The History of Yedikule Hisari

‘Hisari’ in Turkish means castle or fortress, and this particular architectural beauty was built in the 5th century, during the time of Theodosius I, and II. It was designed to the ‘golden gate’, the entrance point to what is now Istanbul, and the original doors were huge and covered completely in gold. One of the most expensive builds of its time, Yedikule Hisari originally had four towers, and was frequently visited by dignitaries and visiting VIPs from around the world.

Three more towers were added to Yedikule Hisari in 1543, by Mehmet the Conquerer. This transformed the building from a gate, into a true fortress, and it was also used as a prison and treasury too. You can see the towers even today, and they are named as the Flag Tower, Sultan Ahmet III Tower, the Armoury Tower, the Dungeon Tower, Top Tower, Treasure Tower, and Young Osman Tower. The Young Osman Tower was the site of Sultan Osman II’s death, during his imprisonment.

The Walls of Constantinople run around Yedikule Hisari, and this is the last point of Istanbul, before you venture into the surrounding suburban areas, which are surprisingly rural for the size of the metropolis you’ve just visited!

Visiting Yedikule Hisari

Visiting Yedikule Hisari is of course not as easy as visiting one of the city’s central attractions, because of the distance, however this is a great excuse to see a more authentic and residential side of Istanbul. The easiest and quickest way is to take the train, which means you don’t have to sit in endless amounts of traffic around Fatih and the smaller distracts past there. Head to Sirkeci Station in Fatih and take the train to Halkali. Yedikule is part way between the two and the stop will be well announced.

Of course, you could take the bus if you really want to, and there is a direct bus from Eminonu to Yedikule which runs a few times per day. Remember, traffic around this part of the city in particular can be very bad at certain times, and also grid locked occasionally. You basically won’t feel like you’re going anywhere very fast!

Yedikule HIsari is open every day apart from Wednesdays, and from 9.30am until 4.30pm. It will cost you just 5TL to go inside, and you should certainly remember your camera for the stunning views over the surrounding area.

Your visit to Yedikule HIsari will probably take you half a day when you factor in the travel time, but this still gives you space and opportunity to visit the other attractions within the general vicinity. When you get back on the train to Fatih, simply walk back down to Sultanahmet or Eminonu and see some of the main sights down there. We might be painting Yedikule Hisari as being a very long way, but three miles is really nothing! The train will make your journey faster, and that leaves you space to perhaps go and visit the Blue Mosque or Topkapi Palace. If you want to stay around Eminonu and enjoy the waterfront feel over the Golden Horn, why not visit Yeni Camii (New Mosque), or venture towards the fragrant Spice Bazaar? Alternatively, there are some fantastic restaurants underneath the Galata Bridge, where you can enjoy seafood in particular, and have the best spot in the house for the sun setting over the Golden Horn.

Although some of Istanbul’s sights might be a little further away, these are often the best, because you won’t have to do battle with crowds, and stand in line for admission. This leaves you time and space to wander free and really take in the history, which oozes out of every single stone.


Watch the video: ANADOLU HİSARI Vlog, Tanıtım, Tarihi, Hakkında Bilgi, Muhteşem Görüntüler