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Istanbul Historical Sites

Ahirkapi Light House
It was built by Osman III in 1755. It is located on the west shore of Bosphorus and faced to the sea of Marmara. The light-house is in the shape of a white tower and erected on one of the ramparts of the fortresses’. It is 40 meters high from the sea level. It helps the ships to find their directions by flashing for every 6 seconds. This light-house was built after an important shipwreck. The accident occurred when a galleon directed by Haci Kaptan routed towards Egypt, was stranded at Kumkapi in a storm. When Sultan Osman III and Grand Vizier Sait Pasha had learnt about the accident they went to Kumkapi and helped to rescue the galleon and the sailors.

One of the rescued sailors said to Sultan:

“If a light-house was built here, the sailors traveling far distances would have found their ways easier.”

Because of these words Osman III commanded, to built a light-house and the Kaptan-i Derya(Admiral) Soleman Pasha has given the duty.

Anatolian Fortress
They are the fortresses built on the narrowest part of the Istanbul Strait by the order of Yildirim Bayazed in 1391. I was built during the siege of Istanbul Strait. It was served as a safe passage from Anatolian Side to the European Side of the Strait.

The castle outside serves as a fortress. The east-west diameter is 65 m, north-south diameter 80 m, and the thickness of the ramparts is between 2 and 5 m.

There are braziers on the ramparts. There are three cylindrical towers that were built to protect the castle.

Banded Column - Burnt Column- (Cemberlitas)
Located on the Divanyolu in the district to which has given its name, Cemberlitas, this column was brought to Istanbul from the Temple of Apollo by Constantinus I (B.C. 324-337). The column was topped by a statue of Apollo and, according to pagan tradition, he clasped a javelin in one hand a cross in the orher. The statue was struck by lightning and destroyed, later replaced with a marble cross.

The cross was removed during the Ottoman period but the column was left untouched. Sultan Mustafa II reenforced the column with iron bands and built the pedestal on which it still stands today. The 35 meters high column is though to contains relics belonging to Jesus Christ.

Basilica Cistern
The largest and most magnificent covered cistern in the city is entered through a small building to the west of the Hagia Sophia Square. The ceiling of this forest of columns is made of brick and is cross-vaulted. The name of the cistern comes from a basilica that was once located nearby.

It was built during the reign of Justinian I (527-565) to supply water to the palaces in the vicinity. Its 336 columns are arranged in 12 rows of 28 each. The cistern measures 140 by 70 meters. The columns are topped with capitals, some of them plain, but most in Corinthian style. The water level in the cistern changed from season to season. The water was distributed through the pipes at different levels in the eastern wall.

The ground was cleared during the major restoration in 1987, and when over one meter of mud was removed, the original brick pavement and two marble Medusa heads at the base of two of the columns were revealed. The walkway that was constructed at that time enables visitors to walk around the cistern.

Beyazit Yanginkulesi
Beyazit Tower is an 85 metre tall fire-watch tower located in the courtyard of Istanbul University's main campus on Beyazit Square (known as the Forum Tauri in the Roman period) in Istanbul, on top of one of the "seven hills" which Constantine the Great had built the city, following the model of Rome.

Beyazit Tower was ordered by the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839), and designed by Senekerim Balyan who built it of stone in 1828 on the place of the original wooden Beyazit Tower which was destroyed in a fire and was constructed earlier by the architect's brother, Krikor Balyan.

Cistern of Philoxenos (Binbirdirek Cistern)
The Cistern of Philoxenos, or Birbindirek Cistern, located between the Forum of Constantine and the Hippodrome of Constantinople in the Sultanahmet district. It has been restored and is now visited as a tourist attraction.

The cistern was constructed under a palace, often identified as the Palace of Lausos in the 4th century. The cistern is composed of a large hypostyle chamber supported by vaults. The 224 columns, each 14 to 15 meters tall, are made of marble from nearby Marmara Island. Each column is a superposition of two columns, joined by a marble ring. The floor of the cistern was later reinforced, so that only the upper column and a short sleeve of the lower column are thus visible. A part of the original exterior is is now preserved on display near the entrance. Most of the columns, and also the caps, are engraved with a Greek mason's mark.

The cistern was restored when the palace was completely destroyed in the 6th century. After the conquest of the city by the Ottomans in 1453, the cistern fell in to disuse, and was forgotten until rediscovered during the construction of Pasha Fazli's palace on the same site in the 17th century.

Column of Marcian
The Column of Marcian (Turkish: Kiztasi, meaning "Column of the girl") is a monument erected in Constantinople in 455 dedicated to the Emperor Marcian. It is made of red-grey Egyptian granite, in two pieces. The basis is quadrilateral, formed by four slabs in white marble, decorated with Greek crosses inside medallions on three faces, and two genii (who account for the Turkish name of the column) holding a globe. The column is topped by a Corinthian capital, probably a basis for a statue of Marcian (as per the Column of Trajan and Column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, which definitely were topped by statues of the emperor they commemorated).

There is an inscription engraved on the northern side of the basis, which reads:

Principis hanc statuam Marciani
cerne torumque
praefectus vovit quod Tatianus

(Observe this statue of the princeps Marcian and its column, [erected] because the prefect Tatianus vowed the work.)

Column of the Goths

The Column of the Goths (Turkish: Gotlar Sutunu) is an 18.5 meter high free-standing Proconnesian marble pillar surmounted with a Corinthian capital dating to Roman times in Gulhane Park.

Eyup - Historical Districts of Istanbul
Established at time of the conquest. Eyup was Istanbuls first Ottoman Turkish settlement. The district is located beyond the city walls on the south bank of the Golden Horn and takes name from the tomb of Eyyub al Ensari, a companion of the prophet Muhammed who is believed to have died during the Muslim siege of Istanbul in the 7th century.

Eyup began to develop shortly after the conquest. The first tangible sing of this were the tomb that Sultan Mehmed, the Conquerror had built over the grave of Eyub El-Ensari after his mentor. Aksemseddin saw the place in a dream and beside it mosque. The first settlers were from the Bursa and the first eigth neighbourhoods given the names Cami-i Kebir, Kasim Cavus, Uluca Baba, Abdulvedud, Sofular, Otaðcibasi, Fethi Celebi and Mehmed Bey.

The most intense period of development occured during the Kanuni Sultan Suleyman (Suleiman The Law Maker) in the 16th century. As well as the mosques, schools, fountains, tombs,hamams and alms kitchen that suddenly appeared, a succession of mansions and pavilions began to lime the shores. The tomb of Eyup El-Ensari, commonly known as Eyup Sultan Turbesi, has changed little over the years and occupies a central place in community life today, just as did in the past.

Besides the ceremonies of the sultans, one of the most striking features of Ottoman times was girding of swords at Eyup Sultan (taklid-i seyf). The ceremony, which was performed to prayers, had a religious spiritual quality and served to recall the significance of the new padisah’s standing. However, the tradition probably dates from before the conquest. The power of the head preiest at the Leon Makelos monastery which was sited here in the Byzantine period, included girding the emperor, military commander and nobles as they left for ward and consecrating the swords.

Another peculiarity that Eyup Sultan Turbesi brought the settlement was that many Ottomans wished to be buried there in order to bo close to the saint who lay entombed. The result was that a number of large cemeteries sprang up, which give the district its mystic quality. Eyup craftsmanship of the tombstones and the catalogue of inscriptions of they bear. At the same time, the cypress trees looming from amonth the graves seem to highlight th co-existence of life and death.

As well as the average man on the street, a large number of prominent public figures have chosen Eyup as their final resting place during both Ottoman period and days of the Republic.

Eyup Sultan Turbesi, which is perhaps one of the most celebrated sites of Eyup, draws vast crowds on religious feast days and public holidays. It is also place of pilgrimage fro newly-weds and circumcision parties. But Eyup was also famed for a host of other things; The fishermen who sell their bountiful catch from the Golden Horn, its florists and dairies, shoreline cafes,toy tabourines,drums and whistles, the toy makers of Eyup would have been kept busy under the spiritual leadership of Eyup Sultan, who is believed to have adored children.

However, the advent of the industrial age at the end of the 19th century and rapid spread of shanty towns after the 1960’s has more or less destroyed the traditional character of the district.

Galata - Historical Districts of Istanbul
Galata is located at the north side of the Golden Horn. Galata was surrounded by the walls, constructed by Genoese, until the 19th century.

Galata Tower
The Galata Tower (Turkish: Galata Kulesi), also called Christea Turris (Tower of Christ) by the Genoese and Megalos Pyrgos (The Great Tower) by the Byzantines, is located to the north of the Golden Horn. One of the city's most striking landmarks, it is a huge, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline on the Galata side of the Golden Horn.

The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a horse-racing track that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire and the largest city in Europe. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydani

Leanders (Maidens) Tower
Maiden's Tower was first built by the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades in 408 BC to control the movements of the Persian ships in the Bosphorus strait, located between the ancient cities of Byzantion and Chalcedon. The tower was later enlarged and rebuilt as a fortress by the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1110 AD, and was rebuilt and restored several times by the Ottoman Turks.

Milion Stone

Istanbul is a city that was the capital of three civilizations. And sometimes it is so easy to miss some details when the city is filled with hundreds of interesting places, objects and artifacts.

Rumeli Fortress
It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II between 1451 and 1452, before he conquered Constantinople. The three great towers were named after three of Mehmed II's viziers, Sadrazam Çandarli Halil Pasha, who built the big tower next to the gate, Zaganos Pasha, who built the south tower, and Sarica Pasha, who built the north tower.

Surici (Old City) - Historical Districts of Istanbul
This is the oldest and most historical section of Istanbul. The Golden Horn marks the north of the Surici, the Bosphorus in the east and Marmara Sea in the South.

Uskudar - Historical Districts of Istanbul
Uskudar is located on the Anatolian side at the entrance to the Bosphorus from Marmara Sea. Historically Uskudar was located between Salacak and Pasalimani. But it grew everday like other districts of Istanbul.

Valens Aquaduct (Bozdogan Kemeri)
The Valens Aqueduct was the major water-providing system of medieval Constantinople (modern Istanbul), restored by several Ottoman Sultans, it is one of the most important landmarks of the city.

Yedikule Zindanlari (Seven Tower Dungeons)
The towers and ramparts surround Istanbul from southwest is called Yedikule Castle or Yedikule Dungeons. Theodosius I had made a triumphal arch, this arch had been the entrance door of the city in 412.

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