Against traditional siege engines and complemented by adequate land and sea forces, the walls of Constantinople had proven impregnable for centuries, but times had changed. Their names derive from the buildings inside the Topkapı Palace they led to. Istanbul city walls, Land Walls of Constantinople, Byzantine Walls, and the Theodosian Wall are all popular names for the fascinating ancient ramparts constructed nearly two millennia ago to defend this historic city.. For centuries thereafter, its materials were used in local buildings, but several parts, especially in the remoter central and northern sections, are still extant. [16] The recent construction of Yenikapı Transfer Center has unearthed a section of the foundation of the wall of Constantine.[17]. The city was built on a promontory projecting into the Bosphorus (Bosporus), which is the strait between the Sea of Marmara (Propontis) and the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus). It marked the western end of the Venetian quarter. The Turks attacked three hours before dawn, concentrating their effort on the Mesoteichion and the western half of the Sea Walls along the Horn. Following the advice of a Hungarian envoy, Turkish gunners concentrated their fire against points on the wall in a triangular pattern-two shots, one each to the base of the a 30-foot section, then a toppling shot to the top center. The complexities of that geography provided both advantages and challenges to the site’s defense. In January 1204, resentful Byzantine nobles toppled the puppet rulers and brought Alexius III’s son-in-law, Alexius Ducas Mourtzouphlos, to the throne as Alexius V. With no hope of securing Byzantine cooperation for the campaign to the Holy Land from the defiant new emperor and seeing little chance of success without it, the Crusaders determined once more to take Constantinople. The Golden Horn posed a certain challenge for the Byzantine engineers, since the five miles of sea walls in that area were comparatively weak and the calm waters there could provide a safe anchorage to an enemy fleet. [5] However, appreciating the city's strategic importance, Severus eventually rebuilt it and endowed it with many monuments, including a Hippodrome and the Baths of Zeuxippus, as well as a new set of walls, located some 300–400 m to the west of the old ones. The famed double line of the Theodosian Walls was built around the 5th century and were almost impenetrable from any attack. A.M. Schneider also identifies it with the Gate of Myriandr[i]on or Polyandrion ("Place of Many Men"), possibly a reference to its proximity to a cemetery. [195] Immediately to the west after the harbour lies the next gate, Davutpaşa Kapısı ("Gate of Davut Pasha"), usually identified with the Gate of Saint Aemilianus (Πόρτα τοῦ ἀγίου Αἰμιλιανοῦ, Porta tou hagiou Aimilianou), which is known to have stood at the junction of the sea wall with the city's original Constantinian Wall. Those who did not take flight were overwhelmed at their posts. The Roman empire had already been divided and many of its fortified cities destroyed by the time the city of Constantinople was in any serious danger from outside forces. While Mango identifies it with the Gate of the Prodromos,[26] Janin considers the name to have been a corruption of the ta Meltiadou quarter, and places the gate to the west of the Mocius cistern. [128] Schneider however suggests that the name could refer rather to the Eğri Kapı. The eastern limit of the Pisan quarter was located a bit eastwards of the gate. [93] From Byzantine texts it appears that the correct form is Gate of Rhesios (Πόρτα Ῥησίου), named according to the 10th-century Suda lexicon after an ancient general of Greek Byzantium. The name that eventually prevailed in common usage however was Constantinople, the "City of Constantine" (Gk. It is pertinent today, as historians look upon the tragic history of the Balkans, to recognize the consequences for the West and the implications for the world had it not been for Constantinople’s role as the citadel at the gate of Europe, which for critical centuries held the East at bay through the long night of the Dark Ages. In fact, the very first walls were built long before his reign, and had already undergone repairs using tombstones as early as 340 BC. [124] The wall features one postern, between the second and third towers, and one large gate, the Eğri Kapı ("Crooked Gate"), between the sixth and seventh towers. Although Urban’s monster cannon exploded on its fourth round, killing its builder and many of the crew, the Turks discovered a more effective technique for employing their artillery. Constantinople has had several walls. Modern scholars are not in agreement over the extent of this portion of the wall, which has been variously defined from as narrowly as the stretch between the Gate of St. Romanus and the Fifth Military Gate (A.M. Schneider) to as broad as from the Gate of Rhegion to the Fifth Military Gate (B. Tsangadas) or from the Gate of St. Romanus to the Gate of Adrianople (A. van Millingen). [59] According to descriptions of Pierre Gilles and English travelers from the 17th century, these reliefs were arranged in two tiers, and featured mythological scenes, including the Labours of Hercules. According to the Chronicon Paschale, the Church of St Mary of Rhabdos, where the rod of Moses was kept, stood next to the gate. However, war broke out in 193 BC and the city was captured by Septimius Seve… Sultan Mehmed II entering “Constantinople” after its fall in 1453 (Photo: Google — Painting by Fausto Zonaro) However, a big opportunity came at the end of World War I, when the Ottomans were defeated along with their ally, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire was in disarray. [9] Constantine's fortification consisted of a single wall, reinforced with towers at regular distances, which began to be constructed in 324 and was completed under his son Constantius II (r. FROM THE LECTURE SERIES: Turning Points in Modern History. The deal was struck and on July 17, 1203, the Crusaders attacked Constantinople by land and sea. It is very likely that this gate is to be identified with the Gate of Kalagros (Πύλη τοῦ Καλάγρου). As for his enemies, as soon as he reached the walls of the Constantinople, he ordered the call of Azan for Jum`a and commenced prayer. Constantinople is almost surrounded by water, except on its side facing Europe where walls were built. The famed double line of the Theodosian Walls was built around the 5th century and were almost impenetrable from any attack. Having ruled since 1449, Constantine knew the empire's defenses alone, including more than 12 miles of walls, were not enough to repel a determined Ottoman siege or assault. In Turkish it is known as Çatladıkapı ("Broken Gate"). How high and thick were the walls of Constantinople and what solution did Mehmed have for this? [206] After the sack of the city in 1204, Galata became a Venetian quarter, and later a Genoese extraterritorial colony, effectively outside Byzantine control. The final blow came on May 29, 1453. Only three gates, the Golden Gate, the Gate of Rhegion and the Gate of Charisius, can be established directly from the literary evidence. [55][64] In 965, Nikephoros II Phokas installed the captured bronze city gates of Mopsuestia in the place of the original ones. To the north the Golden Horn, an inlet that bordered the peninsula, was a natural anchorage and harbor. Twice it served as the entry-point for an emperor's triumphal return: in 1126, when John II Komnenos returned from the recapture of his ancestral Kastamonu, and in 1168, when Manuel I Komnenos returned from his victorious campaign against Hungary. [176] In the early Ottoman period, it was known in Turkish as the Çıfıtkapı ("Hebrew Gate"), but its modern name is Bahçekapı ("Garden Gate"). The Theodosian system was completed in 447 with the addition of an outer wall and moat-a response to a near calamity, when a devastating earthquake seriously damaged the walls and toppled 57 towers at the very moment that Attila and his Hunnic armies were bearing down on Constantinople. Κωνσταντινούπολις, Konstantinoupolis). The outer wall and the moat terminate even earlier, at the height of the Gate of Adrianople. In Turkish it is known as Zindan Kapısı ("Dungeon Gate"). [20] In late Byzantine times, a painting of the Crucifixion was allegedly placed on the gate, leading to its later Ottoman name, İsakapı ("Gate of Jesus"). The original fortified quarter can thereby be roughly traced to have comprised the two northern spurs of the city's Seventh Hill in a triangle, stretching from the Porphyrogenitus Palace to the Anemas Prison, from there to the church of St. Demetrios Kanabos and thence back to the Porphyrogenitus Palace. I thought I'd share this with you, so that we might explore the history. [122] The quality of the wall's construction was shown in the final Ottoman siege, when repeated attacks, intensive bombardment (including the large bombard of Orban) and attempts at undermining it came to naught. Constantinople had stood strong for over 1,200 years, and fended off several attacks on it. [159], Further down the coast was the gate known in Turkish as Balat Kapı ("Palace Gate"), preceded in close order by three large archways, which served either as gates to the shore or to a harbour that serviced the imperial palace of Blachernae. [132] The inner wall is traditionally identified by scholars like van Millingen and Janin with the Wall of Heraclius, built by Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641) after the Avar-Persian siege to enclose and protect the Church of the Blachernitissa. [87] It lies between the heptagonal towers 35 and 36, which were extensively rebuilt in later Byzantine times: its southern tower bears an inscription dated to 1439 commemorating repairs carried out under John VIII Palaiologos. This article was written by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Comer Plummer III, a Middle East Foreign Area officer with degrees in history and international relations, writes from Springfield, Va. For further reading, he highly recommends Byron Tsangadas’ The Fortifications and Defense of Constantinople, noting: ‘For a scholarly examination of the defenses of the city, it is unsurpassed. These walls protected Istanbul from both land as well as sea attacks. This initial construction consisted of a single curtain wall with towers, which now forms the inner circuit of the Theodosian Walls. The main line of defense was the Inner Wall, 40 feet in height and 15 feet thick, with a battlemented parapet five feet high that was accessed by stone ramps. [184] Close by and to its north stood the great Tower of Mangana, which was intended to hold the one end of the chain, planned (but probably never actually installed) by Manuel I Komnenos to close off the Bosphorus, the other end being at a tower erected on the island of the modern Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi) off Chrysopolis (modern Üsküdar), known as Damalis (Δάμαλις) or Arkla (Ἄρκλα) in Byzantine times. The city was built on a promontory projecting into the Bosphorus (Bosporus), which is the strait between the Sea of Marmara (Propontis) and the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus). Sometimes known as the Theodosian Long Walls, they built upon and extended earlier fortifications so that the city became impregnable to enemy sieges for 800 years. [134] The identity of the Pteron remains an unresolved question among modern scholars. From there and until the Gate of Rhegion the wall follows a more or less straight line to the north, climbing the city's Seventh Hill. Their names can be seen to this day engraved on the stone-roughly 30 of them covering more than a millennium, clearly illustrating the importance of these defenses to the empire. This wall was protected by 27 towers and had at least two landward gates, one which survived to become known as the Arch of Urbicius, and one where the Milion monument was later located. The Latins, with a decisive naval advantage thanks to the financial support and powerful fleet put at their disposal by Venice, decided to make a major effort at the Sea Walls. [172] This gate is also identified with the Gate of the Jews (Ἑβραϊκὴ Πόρτα, Hebraïkē Porta), Porta Hebraica in Latin sources, although the same name was apparently applied over time to other gates as well. [202][203][204], In addition, between the Anastasian Wall and the city itself, there were several small towns and fortresses like Selymbria, Region or the great suburb of Hebdomon ("Seventh", modern Bakırköy, so named from its distance of seven Roman miles from the Milion, the city's mile-marker), the site of major military encampments. [181] From the cape at the edge of the ancient acropolis of the city (modern Sarayburnu, Seraglio Point), south and west to the Marble Tower, the Propontis Wall and its gates went as follows: The first gate, now demolished, was the Eastern Gate (Ἑῴα Πύλη, Heōa Pylē) or Gate of St. Barbara (Πύλη τῆς μάρτυρος Βαρβάρας, Pylē tēs martyros Barbaras) after a nearby church, in Turkish Top Kapısı ("Gate of the Cannon"), from which Topkapı Palace takes its name. A knight, grasping for balance moving down a narrow platform high above a ship rolling at anchor, then lifting himself over the parapet, all while evading the arrows, cuts and thrusts of the defenders, was at the mercy of his circumstances. Two gates are known to have existed in the vicinity in Byzantine times: the Kynegos Gate (Πύλη τοῦ Κυνηγοῦ/τῶν Κυνηγῶν, Pylē tou Kynēgou/tōn Kynēgōn, "Gate of the Hunter(s)"), whence the quarter behind it was named Kynegion, and the Gate of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist (Πόρτα τοῦ ἁγίου Προδρόμου και Βαπτιστοῦ, Porta tou hagiou Prodromou kai Baptistou), though it is not clear whether the latter was distinct from the Kynegos Gate. Shortly after the founding of the city in 330 A.D., work began on a series of land walls to the west, where the peninsula joins the European continent. Twenty-seven feet long, 2 l/2 feet in bore, the great weapon could hurl a 1,200-pound ball over a mile. [4] Severus punished the city harshly: the strong walls were demolished and the city was deprived of its civic status, being reduced to a mere village dependent on Heraclea Perinthus. Repairs were undertaken on numerous occasions, as testified by the numerous inscriptions commemorating the emperors or their servants who undertook to restore them. As historian John Haldon notes, "providing the gates were secured and the defenses provided with a skeleton force, the City was safe against even very large forces in the pre-gunpowder period. The despair of its enemies, the walls of Constantinople were the most famous of the medieval world, singular not only in scale, but in their construction and design, which integrated man-made defenses with natural obstacles. The gate was also called Marmaroporta (Μαρμαροπόρτα, "Marble Gate"), because it was covered in marble, and featured a statue of the Emperor Julian. In spite of Emperor Constantine XI’s efforts to rally volunteers, few answered the call. Immediately before it to the east stands the gate known in Turkish as the Yenikapı ("New Gate"). A restored section of the fortifications that protected Constantinople. Although the original city of Byzantium certainly had sea walls, traces of which survive,[139] the exact date for the construction of the medieval walls is a matter of debate. [36] Between the outer wall and the moat (σοῦδα, souda) there stretched an outer terrace, the parateichion (τὸ ἔξω παρατείχιον), while a low breastwork crowned the moat's eastern escarpment. Despite its ceremonial role, the Golden Gate was one of the stronger positions along the walls of the city, withstanding several attacks during the various sieges. [47] In the sections north of the Gate of St. Romanus, the steepness of the slopes of the Lycus valley made the construction maintenance of the moat problematic; it is probable therefore that the moat ended at the Gate of St. Romanus, and did not resume until after the Gate of Adrianople. Despite lack of maintenance, many parts of the walls survived and are still standing today. Other repairs are recorded for 1434, again against the Genoese, and again in the years leading up to the final siege and fall of the city to the Ottomans, partly with funds provided by the Despot of Serbia, George Brankovic. It was 3.30 m thick and over 5 m high, but its effectiveness was apparently limite… The Galata Tower, then called Christea Turris ("Tower of Christ"), and another stretch of walls to its north were built in 1349. These were double walls, but in the 5th century, and were considered to be completely impassable by anyone. The names, but not the identity, of two of them have been recorded, the Postern of St. Lazarus (πυλὶς τοῦ ἁγίου Λαζάρου, pylis tou hagiou Lazarou), and the Small Gate of the Hodegetria (μικρὰ πύλη τῆς Ὁδηγητρίας, mikra pylē tēs Hodēgētrias), both named after the respective monasteries located near them. It was the main ceremonial entrance into the capital, used especially for the occasions of a triumphal entry of an emperor into the capital on the occasion of military victories or other state occasions such as coronations. Van Millingen identifies it with the Old Golden Gate,[24] while Janin considers it to have been located on the northern slope of the Seventh Hill. These walls were the last evidences of elaborate systems of fortifications that were ever built. Facts about Constantinople 6: another wall. Curiously, while the legend has not been reported by any known Byzantine author, an investigation of the surviving holes wherein the metal letters were riveted verified its accuracy. Many more perished of disease and cold in dire encampments before the Land Walls. [130] The wall is a relatively light structure, less than 3 m thick, buttressed by arches which support its parapet and featuring four towers and numerous loopholes. To enhance the integrity of the overall network, the towers and walls were built independently of one another. Their restoration would be short lived. His vision would provide a durable framework for a citadel that the new capital would need to become to weather the challenges that lay ahead. [163] According to Byzantine tradition, the area was named thus after Peter the Patrician, a leading minister of Justinian I (r. 527–565). The first and greatest of these is the 56 km long Anastasian Wall(Gk. The city had about 20 km of walls (land walls: 5.5 km; sea walls along the Golden Horn: 7 km; sea walls along the Sea of Marmara: 7.5 km), one of the strongest sets of fortified walls in existence. [7], Like Severus before him, Constantine began to punish the city for siding with his defeated rival, but soon he too realized the advantages of Byzantium's location. [129], Then comes the outer wall of the Anemas Prison, which connects to a double stretch of walls. [115], The question of the original fortifications in this area has been examined by several scholars, and several theories have been proposed as to their course. According to Georges Sphrantzes, the Ottoman army numbered 200,000 men, but modern historians prefer a more realistic figure of 60-80,000. [80] Its name derives from the fact that it led to a wooden circus (amphitheatre) outside the walls. Contrary to what some people believe, the city walls of Istanbul were not the brainchild of Constantinople the Great. Awe inspiring even in decay, they are a testament to the glory of Greco-Roman military art. The strongest construction faced west, against an approach by land. The section between the Blachernae and the Golden Horn does not survive, since the line of the walls was later brought forward to cover the suburb of Blachernae, and its original course is impossible to ascertain as it lies buried beneath the modern city. The walls were located to the west of the first wall. [106], Known posterns are the Yedikule Kapısı, a small postern after the Yedikule Fort (between towers 11 and 12), and the gates between towers 30/31, already walled up in Byzantine times,[85] and 42/43, just north of the "Sigma". When the army assembled at the city walls of Constantinople on 2 April 1453 CE, the Byzantines got their first glimpse of Mehmed’s cannons. [187] Four small posterns, in two pairs of two, stand at the southern edge of the Mangana quarter, and probably serviced the numerous churches. The Byzantine chroniclers provide more names than the number of the gates, the original Greek names fell mostly out of use during the Ottoman period, and literary and archaeological sources provide often contradictory information. The moat itself was over 20 m wide and as much as 10 m deep, featuring a 1.5 m tall crenellated wall on the inner side, serving as a first line of defence. On two occasions, from 674 to 677, and again in 717-18, Arab armies besieged Constantinople by land and sea. 820–829). The empire was at the end of its resources, its defenses left primarily to Italian mercenaries. It was 3.30 m thick and over 5 m high, but its effectiveness was apparently limite… After arrival at the city and establishing camp, Mehmet offered terms for the surrender of Constantinople… An inscription discovered in 1993 however records that the work lasted for nine years, indicating that construction had already begun ca. A large-scale restoration program has been underway since the 1980s. Situated on a steep slope, they lacked a moat, except on their lower end towards the Golden Horn, where Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos had dug one. According to the late Byzantine Patria of Constantinople, ancient Byzantium was enclosed by a small wall which began on the northern edge of the acropolis, extended west to the Tower of Eugenios, then went south and west towards the Strategion and the Baths of Achilles, continued south to the area known in Byzantine times as Chalkoprateia, and then turned, in the area of the Hagia Sophia, in a loop towards the northeast, crossed the regions known as Topoi and Arcadianae and reached the sea at the later quarter of Mangana. The Fourth Crusade, which never came near to the Holy Land, had shattered the citadel of Christendom in the east. Only the advent of gunpowder siege cannons rendered the fortifications obsolete, resulting in the final siege and fall of Constantinople … Another problem, far more perplexing, was the region of the Blachernae Palace, a neglected salient in the original Land Walls. It survived until the 14th century, when the Byzantine scholar Manuel Chrysoloras described it as being built of "wide marble blocks with a lofty opening", and crowned by a kind of stoa. [2] Although the author of the Patria asserts that this wall dated to the time of Byzas, the French researcher Raymond Janin thinks it more likely that it reflects the situation after the city was rebuilt by the Spartan general Pausanias, who conquered the city in 479 BC. It has also been suggested as one of the gates to be identified with the Gate of Polyandrion or Myriandrion (Πύλη τοῦ Πολυανδρίου), because it led to a cemetery outside the Walls. Later historians, like van Millingen[110] and Steven Runciman[111] have accepted this theory as well. τεῖχος Ἀναστασιακόν, teichos Anastasiakon) or Long Wall (μακρὸν τεῖχος, makron teichos, or μεγάλη Σοῦδα, megalē Souda), built in the mid-5th century as an outer defence to Constantinople, some 65 km westwards of the city. 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