Where was Constantinople?

    Constantinople in Thrace




The Valens Aqueduct   

For over 2000 years this city has been a melting pot of various cultures. Byzantium, Constantinople and now Istanbul, these are the names that this city bore. It was made in 658 BC. Founded by Greeks. In 324 AD, the founding year of the Byzantine Empire, Constantine the Great made the city the "new Rome".
On May 29, 1453, the Sultan Mehmet Fatih conquered the city. As in its rather quiet time as the capital of Christianity, Istanbul quickly became the most important city in the Islamic world, dwarfing Baghdad and Cairo.


 Hagia Sophia   

The Hagia Sophia (Turkish Aya Sofya), Church of Holy Wisdom, is probably the most famous building in the city. The first church was built under Constantine, but burned down in 404 AD. The second building was completed 7 years later, but was completely destroyed during an uprising in 532 AD.
The current building was built under the emperor Justinian after five years of reconstruction. The shell was inaugurated on December 27, 537. On May 7th, 558, the extremely flat dome collapsed in an earthquake, but was restored in its current, albeit slightly different, shape in the following years 558-563. Because of its immense dome, which floats almost weightlessly over the main room, it was considered the eighth wonder of the world in late antiquity.
When the Ottomans took the city on May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmet Fatih is said to have held the first Muslim worship service that afternoon. In the following years the church was converted into a mosque. Hagia Sophia served as a mosque until 1932. At Ataturk's suggestion, it was converted into the museum that exists today and the Byzantine mosaics uncovered. To soften the protest from Muslims, some time later large wooden round signs with Arabic inscriptions from the 19th century with the names of Muhammad and the first four caliphs were reinstalled in the building. Efforts were made to restore the Byzantine state without wanting to destroy the Muslim one. Lately there have been increasing efforts to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.


 Yerebatan Sarayı   

The Yerebatan Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayı) next to Hagia Sophia was built under Emperor Justinian. He had the cistern built between 532 and around 542 as a water reservoir for the Great Palace. Above it was a large basilica, which is why the cistern is also called cisterna basilica. It has a capacity of approx. 80,000 cubic meters. Twelve rows of 28, a total of 336 columns, each eight meters high, with predominantly Corinthian spolia capitals, support the vault. The water, which came in the best quality from the Belgrade forest in the highlands west of Istanbul over the viaducts of Hadrian and Valens, was used to supply the imperial household.
The facility can be visited. A number of fish, some of them very light to white, can often be seen in the water of the cistern. In the north-western part of the cistern the reliefs of inverted Medusa heads can be seen. These are faulty and originally come from the Prokonesos quarries.


 The Theodosian Land Wall 



The Theodosian Wall is a 19-20 kilometer long fortification (land and sea walls) built at the beginning of the 5th century under Emperor Theodosius II and the Prefect Anthemius to protect Constantinople. The Theodosian Wall is considered by some historians to be one of the most successful and best thought out fortifications in the history of war technology. Many of the most dramatic events in the history of the city are closely related to this extraordinary structure. The construction of the wall system was necessary to counter the threat from the Huns and to give the rapidly expanding city additional space. Despite increasing decay and the emergence of firearms, the fortifications were difficult to overcome even in the middle of the 15th century with resolute defense. The complexity of the defenses contributed significantly to the long existence of the Byzantine Empire.





Unrestored section of the land wall


On May 29, 1453, the land wall was stormed by the numerically and technically superior army of Sultan Mehmed II. The siege of Constantinople was arduous and lasted seven weeks, although the city was already largely depopulated and completely impoverished. For almost 1,000 years, the fortifications had provided reliable protection for the city and its citizens. When its capital, Constantinople, fell to the Ottomans, the end of the Byzantine Empire was sealed. Most of the fortifications were then left to decay, and the residents used them as a quarry for a long time. In the last decades of the 20th century, however, they began to be partially repaired and preserved.





Yedikule Fortress




Yedikule, the "Castle of the Seven Towers", is located directly on the Theodosian Land Wall. It is part of an approximately 20 kilometer long fortification built under Emperor Theodosius II at the beginning of the 5th century. The facility is located directly on the wall. It is partly Byzantine, partly Ottoman in origin. Its towers are connected to each other by thick walls.
It served the Ottomans as a dungeon, treasury and place of execution. The most famous execution victim of Yedikule was the eighteen-year-old Sultan Osman II, who was strangled in one of the towers on May 20, 1622.




The golden gate


The 66 m wide and 20 m high Golden Gate (porta aurea) with its three passages was the most magnificent and largest gate of the Theodosian Land Wall. It was at the southern end of the wall complex, in the later fortifications, almost directly on the shore of the Marmara Sea.
In its heyday it was adorned with gold plates and numerous bronze statues and flanked by two massive towers that were clad with polished marble on the outside. Through this gate z. B. Emperor Heraclios brought the relic of the true cross back to the city in 628. It was also the end point of the Via Egnatia, the main route through the Balkans to Rome. By 1453 the decorations had largely disappeared, but at that time it must still have made an impressive impression on the viewer.

       Photos: @chim   Text: Wikipedia et al.