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The Land Walls of Constantinople

April 17th, 2012 by Tamra

Dear Family and Friends,

First Military Gate at Tower 1

First Military Gate at Tower 1

We spent Sunday studying military architecture with FARIT (Friends of the American Research Institute in Turkey. Part of Constantinople’s defense from Byzantine times until the Turks conquered the city in 1453 depended upon 6.5 kilometers of walls that ran from the Marmara Sea to the Golden Horn. Despite invasions, earthquakes, and cuts for modern transportation, much of the walls and many of the towers and gates are still intact.

We began our day at Panorama 1453, a 360 degree painting of the siege and conquest of Constantinople, complete with sound effects and hordes of people. After that, we went to the Marble Tower on the Marmara coast where the land walls and the sea wall met. From here, we walked and occasionally bused our way north and east to the Golden Horn. Along the way, we learned about history and architecture, like why the lowest place in the wall was the most vulnerable and the difference between a military gate and a city gate and why the towers are free-standing. We were able to climb up, on, and through the wall in several places.

Gardens in the moat of the Belgrade Gate, Towers 22 - 23

Gardens in the moat of the Belgrade Gate, Towers 22 - 23

Today, parks and gardens line much of the wall, creating a long and restful green space for the modern city.

I made a Google map of the trek that you can see here.

The Flickr photos are here.

You can see the painting of the siege here. There are a lot of other 3D representations on this site. It’s fun to browse through, but a bit dizzy-making.

The website Byzantium  1200 has some nice graphics of old Constantinople. The site is a bit confusing. Click on Contents in the sidebar and on the new page, you can select the buildings you want to see – for instance, Blachernae Palace or Theodosian Walls or Hagia Sophia.

If you are really into this, Wikipedia has a comprehensive article about the walls and towers here. Actually, if you are really into this, you should come for a visit!



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