The best way to defend a city in the Middle Ages, was to build a city wall. The city was being protected from enemies by these walls. These walls were advantageous so 5000 soldiers defending the city could resist 100,000 soldiers.

Constantinople had the most powerful defense system of the Middle Ages. These walls around Constantinople that cover 19.5 kilometers along a continuous route, had nearly 400 towers and 45 gates.

The walls of Constantinople consisted from three parts: Land, sea and Golden Horn and every part had a defensive mentality. While the land walls are strongest part, the weakest part is the sea and Golden Horn walls.

The sea walls were weak, its height would not 10 meters because sea was consisting  a natural line of defense but that was not case for the Land walls.

The land walls were being protected like steel with triple defense system which were consist from ditch, inner wall and outer wall and ıt ran along a 5632 meter long line from Yedikule to Golden Horn.

The ten gates of the land walls that resisted to time.

The city is connected to the outside through the gates opening to the land walls.

These gates were divided into two as civilian and military according to style of use. Civilian gates were used for daily works of public while the military gates were used for military purposes. During the Ottoman period, military gates were not needed for this reason most of the military gates were closed by building walls but the civilian gates are still standing.

Land walls have 10 gates. Some of these gates were built in Byzantine period while some was built in Ottoman period.

In this article, historical gates of the walls that started in Yedikule and ended in Eğrikapı are introduced within a sightseeing route.

While some gates are very close to each other, distance between some gates approximately 1 km. Finally, accessing from number one gate to number ten gate means that you can make a journey of 5632 meters.

In this travel route, we will not only see walls and wall gates, we will also see the historical buildings around the walls.

Let’s start.

Our first stop is a military gate in Yedikule.

1) Byzantine Military Gate

This gate was used by Byzantine Empire for military purposes. This is only the military gate that should be seen along the entire route. It was closed most of the  military gates by Ottomans and Byzantines because it was not necessary. Military gates are smaller than civil gates and are unpretentious architecturally.

The gate is called the first military gate because is first military gate at the point where land of walls begin.

On the gate, we can see a Jesus monogram.

Now, let’s walk from Botanical Park to the Golden Gate.

2) The most magnificent gate of walls: Golden Gate

This gate, which is completely covered with Marmara Island marble, has two towers and three passages, is the most magnificent gate of Istanbul.

The emperors and commanders that won the triumph, entered the city from this gate in Byzantine period, for this reason the gate is monumental.

This gate called as Golden Gate because of it covered with golden gilts in once upon a time and had some statue, reliefs.

Except for an eagle relief seen on the corner of the northern tower, there are no other reliefs and statues.

The entrance of gate is among the grass in the Yedikule Cemetery. The gate can also be seen from courtyard of the Yedikule Dungeons but my advice the gate  must be seen from trough the cemetery.

Golden Gate was built as a triumphal arch on its own in a bare field and gained its current appearance in 413. When the land walls were expanded, Golden Gate joined the walls.

Gate of Yedikule located further on about 100 meters from Golden Gate.

3) A Turkish gate: Yedikule Gate

Some art historians consider this gate as a complete Turkish work in terms of style and architecture and show inscription of 3rd Ahmet period on the gate as evidence.

The gate was built in Byzantine period but rebuilt by Sultan 3rd Ahmet in 18th century. It had a eagle emblem on it that is symbol of Byzantine, until near the time. It takes its name from the Yedikule Dungeons near it.

When you entered from gate in, towers of Yedikule Dungeons are seen. While you’re here,  stop by the Yedikule Dungeons, it is also necessary to see the previous gate, Golden Gate, from the courtyard of the dungeon.

You will see gardens which lie along the walls, in front of Yedikule Gate. These gardens where lettuce, onion and cabbages grown, is lie along for 3 kilometers between Topkapı Gate and Mevlanakapı Gate.

These gardens were ditch once upon a time and were forming first defense line of the land walls which called impassable. Ditches whose is deep 8 meters, wide 20 meters, were filled with water when Istanbul besieged. The soldiers who besieged the city, had to pass first this ditches for arrive the city.

By following the gardens, we can clearly see triple defensive line of the land walls when walk along the walls. The walls, which lie just behind the gardens, are approximately 8.5 meters high and outer walls. These walls, have a tower every sixty meters. The inner walls are behind the outer walls and more higher. The inner walls are basic walls of the city because it is most strong and most equipped walls as technical. It’s 12 meters high, 8 meters wide and has a tower every sixty meters.

Our walking along Yedikule gardens and walls ends aftet 500-600 meters at the Belgradkapı Gate.

4) From Belgrade Forestes to Belgrade Gate

This gate knit during Byzantine period in 12th century and stayed closed for 700 years that is why called “closed gate” by Ottomans.

The gate was reopened in 1886, to fecilitate arrivals and departures to the Balıklı Greek Hospital.

Why was the gate called Belgrade?

After the conquest of Belgrade, a group of Belgrade prisoners were brought to Istanbul in Magnificent Süleyman time. A part of prisoners who are tradesmen, was placed around this gate. The part that understands from waterways were placed in the Belgrade Forests. Thus, prisoners of Belgrade gave their names to two points in Istanbul. Let their memories be eternal.

The gates have defense towers and are defended using these towers. It wasn’t at the Yedikule Gate, but we can see the defense towers at the Belgrade Gate. There are stairs on the left and right side of the gate when you entered from gate in. You can climb the using this stairs to historical walls and can watch a different panorama of Istanbul from on the defense towers of Belgrade Gate. While you’re here, don’t miss this opportunity.

The other gate is Silivri Gate which is 500 meters away . You should arrive to the Silivri Gate along the Hisaraltı Street, from interior, isn’t from side gardens. From Yedikule Gate to the Belgrade Gate, you have already seen gardens and walls.

You will see a mosque a little later when walking along the Hisaraltı Street. Hadım İbrahim Pasha Mosque that built by Mimar Sinan. Silivri Gate is in front of you when leave the mosque.

5) The gate to the road to Silivri: Silivri Gate

Just as Silivri Gate, some of the wall gates got their names from the road they were on.

Silivri Gate is on the road that goes the Silivri district and has two defense towers just as Belgrade Gate.

The bruial chambers of emperors that are about 1700 years old, are next the gate. You should see these bruial chambers. While you’re here, don’t miss this opportunity.

You will see one  of the Ottoman Turkish inscription when you lift your head. The inscription is dated 1585 and has a mace. See attentively to the inscription and mace, they are unique because this mace belongs to the İdris Agha who is a janizary and served as guard in Topkapı Palace.

In the old times, sportsmen who broke records in competitions, would hang their sports equipments on the walls. This mace is single sample of this tradition and hangs on the Silivri Gate for 420 years.

There is a repair inscription on the gate, dated 1438. This type of the repair inscriptions can be found in many parts of the city walls. They are the identity cards of Istanbul.

There are two graves whose are interesting its stories at the entry of Silivri Gate. Elekçi Grandpa’s Tomb on the right, Mehmet Haydar Efendi Tomb on the left. The stories of these two tombs are special remarkable.

Let us continue we walking along the walls from the edge of the tombs. Our target is Mevlana Gate. After 600 meters, we will be there, and gardens will do accompany us along the our walking.

The wall towers behind the gardens are dilapidation. Their status very bad. They can be shattered in the smallest earthquake.

6) The gate that got its name fron dervish house

This gate took its name from Yenikapı Mevlevi Dervish House that is stayed outside wall.

The gate was built in second Theodosius period and managed to preserve its original form for hundreds of years.

The Byzantines called this gate the Russian Gate.

Russian Gate

A group of Russians lived in Eyüp during the Byzantine period but entry to Istanbul was banned. The Russians rebelled and gained the right to enter Istanbul but only trough this gate. The Russians and rebellion. Perfect couple.

The cross which is on the Mevlanakapı and the Byzantine repair inscription are remarkable. There’s also a cross on the inside of the gate. The gate has two defense towers on both sides. The tower which is on the left of entry, is using as dove cote now. To the left of the gate are stairs where you can climb the tower, where pigeons feed. You can watch a panorama of Istanbul from this tower.

Let’s continue our walk by following the gardens along the walls. A few hundred meters later, the gardens are finished, the weeds begin.

After about one kilometer walk, we’ll reach Topkapı, which is symbolized conquest of Istanbul.

7) Gate of Conquest of Istanbul: Topkapı Gate

Topkapı Gate, was completely destroyed during the conquest and it was rebuilt after the conquest. The gate got its Turkish name because of some cannonballs  that beat the walls during the conquest. After these cannonballs was placed on the gate. Some travelers who visited walls of Istanbul in the middle of the 19th century talked about these cannonballs. On the right side of gate, there is an inscription about conquest of Istanbul.

There is two mosque was built by Mimar Sinan around Topkapı: Arakiyeci İbrahim Agha Mosque and Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque.

Arakiyeci İbrahim Agha Mosque especially attract with its mosaics. Kara Ahmet Pasha Mosque attract with its pen embroidery. Visit these mosque while you’re here.

Between inner and outer walls, there’s 15-20 meters a corridor called peribolos. This corridor is speacially designed for soldiers move freely between the walls during the siege. This corridor is used by Fatih Municipality as a cafe. You can drink a cup of tea and walk safely in the “peribolos”.

The flat area ends after from Topkapı. Let’s walk to the Vatan Street, which was once Lykus Stream. There is no ditch due to this ramp. This is weakest point of the walls. Therefore, the main war took place  in this region during the conquest and entered  the city from this there.

Ulubatlı Hasan is a hero of the conquest. He erected the flag of Ottoman on the walls of Constantinople. Therefore, a sign which is about Ulubatlı Hasan, hang on the walls.

After from Vatan Street, let’s walk to the Sulukule Gate.

8) Gate under which water passes: Watery Tower Gate

In the middle ages (or medieval period) every castle had a water tower. Water would enter the city from here. People could enter through the water channels. Therefore, a water tower was built here to ensure safety. So this tower called watery tower (in Turkish : Sulukule).

Sulukule Gate was both civilian and a military gate. The cross on the gate attracts particular attention.

Sulukule was being known as the Gypsy Quarter. This place has recently undergone urban transformation.

Sulukule is now a luxury venue with its college and art academy.

9) The gate that connects Istanbul to Europe: Edirne Gate

Edirnekapı Hill is highest hill of Istanbul with 76 meters. Edirne Gate that gave this hill its name, is the e most important gate after Golden Gate.

The gate took its name as it is situated on the way to the province of Edirne. Some Byzantium emperors used this gate to go on expedition also Ottoman sultas were entering to Istanbul from this gate after they gird on with holy sword in Eyüp.

Ottoman sultans who succeeded to his throne, entered the city from this gate. It was a sort of gate of ceremony.

There are stairs to climb on the walls extending from Tekfur Palace to Edirne Gate. You can walk on the walls and make a history journey that goes back thousands of years.

I am recommending especially you climb on the bastion which is high 25 meters. The panorama of Istanbul seems perfectly from here.

The mini list of historical buildings which needs to be seen in Edirnekapı.

Mihrimah Sultan Mosque and Complex, built by Mimar Sinan in 16th century; Khora Museum is famous with Byzantine mosaics; Tekfur Palace which is only part left from Bleherna Palace which is a Byzantine Palace.

10) Curved Gate

Where did name of Curved Gate (in Turkish: Eğrikapı) come from? The subject is controversial.

A traveler of Ottoman who Evliya Çelebi says that after the conquest, a group of immigrants from Eğirdir were placed in this neighborhood. Eremya Çelebi who is traveler of same period and historian says that the gate is curve. John Frelly who is called Modern Evliya Çelebi sats that path of gate is curve. There are various claims.

When you enter through Eğrikapı, you can visit the Panayia Suda Church on the left after two streets also you can visit the Eğrikapı Fountain.

The Last Gate

It is not a historic gate so ı didn’t not include the 10 historical gate. This gate was opened in 1990s for connect between Ayvansaray. It is last gate opened so was called as the last gate.

There are many tombs of sahaba in front of this gate.

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