The city walls of Istanbul have been around far longer than Istanbul itself, and are known to be the most elaborate ancient defense system ever constructed. Visiting the iconic City Walls is typically not included in our current range of Egypt and Turkey Tours. However, if you have some free time to spare while you are in Istanbul, then we would certainly recommend checking out this site.
It is believed that the city which is today known as Istanbul in Turkey was first founded by a Greek and given the name Byzantium. The city was eventually captured by Constantine the Great, and was soon renamed Second Rome. Nonetheless, it became known as Constantinople, the capital of the powerful Byzantine Empire.
Defending Constantinople Against Invasion
Contrary to what some people believe, the city walls of Istanbul were not the brainchild of Constantinople the Great. In fact, the very first walls were built long before his reign, and had already undergone repairs using tombstones as early as 340 BC.
The city was perceived to be of little importance despite the fact that its inhabitants were relatively wealthy. However, war broke out in 193 BC and the city was captured by Septimius Severus who, to punish the inhabitants, had the walls demolished, along with much of the city. While the walls are not really consider to be one of main tourist attractions in Turkey, their long and fascinating history does make them worthy of a visit.
Realization Of The City’s Potential
Not long after the city and its walls were destroyed, Septimius realized the city’s potential strategic importance. Upon doing so, he set about rebuilding the city, including the addition of several monuments, some of which can still be seen to this day. He likewise ordered the walls to be rebuilt.
History Repeats Itself
When Constantine the Great captured the city, the walls and the city were once again largely destroyed. Like his predecessor, Constantine also soon realized that the city was of great strategic importance, and he too ordered the city to be rebuilt, but he wanted it to be even better than before.
Such was the extent of his goals, that the city walls of Istanbul were only completed during the reign of his son, Constantius. A large percentage of these walls collapsed however due to a number of successive earthquakes, but were later rebuilt yet again, and are these days known as the Theodosian Walls.
Even after the walls were rebuilt, they often suffered severe damage from earthquakes and floods, but on each occasion, the city walls of Istanbul were rebuilt or repaired. Constantinople came under attack several times during its existence, but the walls proved to be too much for attackers, and the city continued to survive.
If you would like to visit and explore the City Walls of Istanbul during your stay, it is worth noting that all of our Egypt and Turkey tour packages are fully customizable. As such, a visit to these walls can be incorporated in any one of our itineraries if requested.
Gunpowder And The Arrival of Cannons
The arrival of gunpowder and cannons was a major game changer in armed conflict, and yet Constantinople was still able to repel attacks. Cannon fire did cause significant damage to the walls surrounding the city, but repairs were carried out efficiently and swiftly.
Workers were able to repair cannon damage fast enough to ensure the integrity of the wall was never destroyed enough to allow crusaders into the city. To this day, the city walls of Istanbul are considered to be the most complex and also the most effective ancient defense system ever built.
The Ottoman Turk Invasion of Constantinople
The Ottoman Turks fought a long and bloody battle in their quest to capture Constantinople. In the end they succeeded, but not because the walls failed. Instead, they succeeded through brute force and sheer determination.
Visiting The City Walls Of Istanbul
The city walls of Istanbul still keep visitors to this metropolitan city amazed to this day. They might not be as famous as the Great Wall of China, but any visitor to Turkey’s capital is likely to see at least some of the walls that once protected a great empire.
Many of the original city gates are still intact, as are some of the moats that once helped to defend this ancient land. The Land Walls which today run through the center of modern day Istanbul have been extensively repaired and restored. Nonetheless, many people have criticized a lot of the work, saying that repairs should only have been done using the original materials. Despite criticism, the walls make for an unforgettable experience for anyone visiting the area.
If you would like to visit the city walls of Istanbul, along with many of the other amazing historical attractions in Turkey, explore your options with us. We offer an extensive range of high quality Egypt and Turkey tours, as well as customized tours which can be tailored to your own individual needs.