Rumeli Fortress in Istanbul was originally built in 1451 as part of the Ottoman Empire’s strategy for conquering Constantinople which was under Byzantine rule. All of our existing Egypt and Turkey tours include some time in Istanbul, making this a very convenient site to visit.
Rumilihisari, which is also known as the Rumeli Fortress in Istanbul, is yet another one of Turkey’s tourist attractions which attract scores of visitors every year, and one which is well worth a visit. It is located on the European side of the Bosphorus, directly opposite the Anatolian Castle which is on the Asian side. Rumeli Fortress was built in just four months with the help of thousands of workers. Construction began towards the end of 1451 and was completed in the beginning of 1452.
Why Was There Such An Urgent Need For A Fortress?
During the reign of Sultan Murad II the Ottoman Empire had attempted to conquer the city of Constantinople. The effort proved to be unsuccessful, and this was partly due to the fact that the Byzantines sent a fleet of ships to blockade the Bosphorus.
When the sultan’s son, Sultan Mehmed II ascended to the throne in 1451, he immediately ordered the fortress to be built in preparation for another attack on Constantinople. Rumeli Fortress in Istanbul is located at the narrowest part of the Bosphorus, as is the Anatolian Fortress on the opposite side. Having a fortress on either side, and particularly at the narrowest part, would effectively allow the Ottomans to control traffic on the Bosphorus. Constantine XI attempted to broker a peace deal but the sultan refused the offer, and the fortress was quickly completed.
Dedicated To A Prophet Or To A Sultan?
It is said that in order to keep the thousands of workers in high spirits, Sultan Mehmud II requested that the fortress be built in a shape which would mimic the Arabic spelling for the prophet Muhammad. Viewed from above, one can see that the sultan’s orders were indeed followed. However, “Mehmud” and “Muhammad” are both spelled the same in Arabic, which has led some people to believe the Sultan may have done this with himself in mind.
A Fortress Of War
Even though having a fortress on either side of the Bosphorus ultimately meant that the Ottomans had full control of the Bosphorus, the sultan was taking no chances, and ordered that the fortress must be strong enough to withstand canon fire. As a result, the walls range from 5.70 meters to 6.50 meters in thickness.
For the soldiers who were stationed in the fortress, a number of wooden homes served as accommodation. The sultan had also requested that there should be a small mosque inside the compound which covered a total area of around 31,200 square meters. Additionally, there was an underground cistern beneath the mosque which provided water to those living in the fortress, by means of three wall fountains.
Today only one fountain remains intact. The small mosque is also no longer standing although its single minaret still remains.
Rumeli Fortress is not a standard fixture in all of our Egypt Turkey Tours, but since all our tours are customizable, a visit to the site is always possible.
Sending Out A Clear Message
With a total of 400 soldiers and numerous cannons, the Rumeli Fortress in Istanbul was ready to defend the Bosphorus, and a clear message was sent out when a Venetian vessel sailing from the Black Sea failed to stop when ordered to do so by the fortress commander. The vessel was immediately fired on and soon sunk. Crew that survived the bombardment were duly captured and impaled as a warning to any other would-be trespassers.
Later Use Of Rumeli Fortress In Istanbul
Rumeli Fortress in Istanbul has served several purposes since the conquering of Constantinople, including a customs checkpoint and a prison. It has also been severely damaged on a number of occasions. In 1509 a major earthquake destroyed parts of the fortress, but it was soon repaired. It was once again damaged in 1746 due to a fire, but was again repaired in 1761
In 1955 a major restoration project got underway, and work took three years to complete. Today the Rumeli Fortress in Istanbul is a National museum and it’s also used as an open-air theater during the summer for a number of concerts.
If you would like to visit Rumeli Fortress in Istanbul, along with numerous other fascinating attractions, please visit our Egypt and Turkey Tours page. We have been arranging and organizing Middle Eastern tours for more than 65 years, so you can be sure your holiday will be one which you’ll never forget.