I was thinking of taking the ferry cruise and get to Sariyer (then what?) and then the thought of this district in the European part of the city reminded me of the castle that I always see whenever I take a ferry cruise.
So instead, I packed my camera and walked my way to Taksim Square bus station, jumped on one of the big buses heading to Sariyer to get to the castle or fortress.
Rumelihisari or Rumeli Fortress is a bit out-of-the-beaten path, most tourists who come to the city with limited time are usually confined to the sights within Sultanahmet district where most of the popular sights that can be read over the internet and were suggested by many visitors are within walking distance from each other. Few would venture to see this massive fortress up close as it can also be seen on a bosphorous ferry cruise. But if one has a lot of time in Istanbul, this is quite a good place to visit.
There are two majestic fortresses along the river that separates the city’s location into two continents – Europe and Asia - the Rumelihisari and Anadoluhisari, both built on the narrowest point of the mighty bosphorous opposite each other. Anadoluhisari was built on the Anatolia side in 1393 by the Ottoman sultan Beyazid I, Rumelihisari on the other hand was built in 1451 by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II in order to control the sea traffic on the Bosphorus strait and prevent aid from the Black Sea region to reach Constantinople during the siege of the city in 1453, and to eventually seize Istanbul (Constantinople) from the Byzantine empire.
|Cannons near the entrance.|
|Interior of one of the big towers just beside the main entrance.|
I took the bus from Taksim Square, I was looking for the bus no. 25T, I got the information from one site, but in reality all buses that goes to Sariyer or Istinye and buses emanating from both Taksim and Besiktas that has a Rumelihisari signs go there. I got off one station before the gate entrance as I wanted to take a walk along the nice promenade beside the river overlooking the massive Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridge and some beautiful mansions on the other side of the river bank. It’s a beautiful sunny day.
Designed by Architect Muslihuddin Aga, the fortress has three main towers and thirteen small watchtowers, all erected along the walls connecting to the main towers. Sultan Mehmed II supervised the construction and rushed to finished it in four months and a half during the end of August 1452.
The fortress has 5 main entrances and the walls are 5 – 15 meters high and covers an area of 30,000 sqm. Upon entering the main entrance, you will see the line of cannons near the main entrance.
|Two of the big towers.|
|The descend to one of the watchtowers.|
|Going up, no railing to hold on to.|
I walked up the stairs leading to the towers, no railings to hold on to, not recommended for older tourists if I may say so, so care must be taken while ascending to the top levels, some of the steps are glossy and slippery and a not-so-good pair of footwear may slip. Reaching the top is fulfilling though as it commands a nice view of the bosphorous with the towers on the foreground.
There is an amphitheater with the minaret down the center, the solitary remnant of an old mosque built on order from the sultan. The best view of the surrounding area and the bosphorous can be seen on one of the ascend at the back of the amphitheater on the direction of the Fatih bridge.
|The minaret sharft on the left, remnant of a mosque.|
I have watched Faruk Aksoy’s epic-action film “Fetih 1453” (purportedly the most expensive production in Turkish film history) some months back and I would suggest you do too if you plan to visit the fortress, just to have another perspective of history – from the Ottoman’s view – or perhaps that’s the (only) popular perspective.
One of the highlights of the story was about the construction of this fortress and how the Ottomans captured Constantinople (the name of Istanbul during that time) from the Byzantines which all started from the strategic construction of this fortress.
|Standing at one of the watchtowers.|
It's an excellent film, it has all the quality of a hollywood production, I didn't say that it was a good point, I am not really fond watching hollywood movies. But in my opinion it's quite entertaining for its historical narrations and its production's technical aspects, and I think the film has further instigated my interest in seeing the fortress physically, in addition of course to my fascination in anything historical.
The roads to the fortress are laterally along the bosphorus, the sights are nice along the way. Get off at Rumelihisari Duragi (bu stop) which is right after the cemetery on the hillside and before the long Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.
Address: Yenidogan Mh., Yahya Kemal Cd No:42, Istanbul
Entry Fee: TL10
Opening hours: 9:00am - 4.30pm Daily except Wednesdays.