7 Aralık 2013 Cumartesi

Rumelian Castle

Rumelihisarı (Rumelian Castle) is a fortress located in the Sarıyer district of Istanbul, Turkey, on a hill at the European side of the Bosphorus. It gives the name of the quarter around it. 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 Çandarlı Halil Pasha, who built the big tower next to the gate, Zağanos Pasha, who built the south tower, and Sarıca Pasha, who built the north tower.


The seventh Ottoman Sultan II. Mehmet wanted to finish what his great-grandfather Bayezid wanted to do, to conquer Constantinople…

To this end, he wanted to build a fortress at the other side of  Anadoluhisarı;  which had been built originally by Yıldırım Beyazıt. But the banks of the Bosporus, was  not in the hands of the Turks at that time.Moreover, even if superficial good-neighborly relations with Byzantium has been built those years, the young Turkish sultan did not want to disrupt this association and wanted to achieve to obtain the land by friendly compliments. II. Mehmet gets inspired by a letter, received  from a priest who has converted to Muslim.

He writes in his letter “You are the one who is going to conquer Constantinople. If you build a fortress here and two other fortresses on the Mediterranean side of the stray and don’t let food to be carried into the strays, then there will be famine in Istanbul.  If you bring your armies and soldiers through Edirne, the town will be graced.”

Sultan II. Mehmet  gets very happy by this and after seeking the approval of Emperor Konstantin’s he goes to hunting  in the  region and sends the hunted goods to Konstantin as a sign of his friendship.

Sultan sends also a request with the hunted goods; he states that he wants to build a hunting house on the Rumeli side of the Bosporus. Emperor Konstantin suspects something else by this request, but does not want to say no and receive hostility. Konstantin’s, decides to take a winding route to this request and sends his ambassador to state the following: “If the sultan wants to build a hunting house, he can build it as long as it should not be bigger than the skin of these cattle. If it is build bigger, it is against my wishes and will bridge the piece among us”.

II Mehmet agrees with this note and gets the skin to be cut in very tiny slices; he then adds the end of these slices and covers a significant region. Rumelihisari is built in the land surrounded by the cattle skin.
When Konstantin receives the news of the new castle, he sends his ambassador and says that the Sultan has acted against the peace agreement.  The Ottoman Sultan sends back the cattle skin tied back to back with the ambassador.  He sends a note stating “We have built a fortress by the cattle’s skin, if you believe we have not behaved correctly, we will take down the inappropriate portions. So the Sultan has been able to build two fortresses on two bays of Istanbul and this has led to conquering of Istanbul from a logistic point.  In the year of 1452, Mehmet the conqueror has built this fortress on the hill Of Hermaion in 4 months and 10 days. He has also named Hisar as “Bogazkesen” himself. The three big towers have been built by three big commanders of Sultan Mehmet II. ; the length of the fortress is 250meters. The width of the fortress descending on the hill is 125 meters. The tower by the seaside has been built by Candarli Halis Pasha, the tower on the Bebek side by Zaganos Pasha and finally the one facing Sariyer has been by Saruca Pasha. Saruca Pasha Tower has also been used as a prison, therefore is sometimes called the “black tower”.


Rumelihisarı is situated at the narrowest point with 660 meters of the Bosphorus strait, just opposite of Anadoluhisarı (Anatolian Castle) on the Anatolian side, which is another Ottoman fortress that was built between 1393 and 1394 by Sultan Bayezid I.

Rumelihisarı was built by Sultan Mehmed II between 1451 and 1452 in order to control the sea traffic on the Bosphorus strait and prevent aid from the Black Sea to reach Constantinople during the Turkish siege of the city in 1453, particularly from the Genoese colonies such as Caffa, Sinop and Amasra

In a previous Ottoman attempt to conquer the city, Sultan Murad II (1404–1451) had encountered difficulties due to a blockade of the Bosphorus by the Byzantine fleet. The necessity of a fortress opposite of Anadoluhisarı was thus well known to the Ottomans. 

On the location of Rumelihisarı, there had been a Roman fortification in the past, which was used as a prison by the Byzantines and Genoese. Later on, a monastery was built there.

In preparation for the conquest of Constantinople, Sultan Mehmed II (1432–1481), son of Murad II, started to realize the construction of the fortress immediately following his second ascent to the throne in 1451. He refused the plea for peace of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI (1404–1453), who understood the intention of the Sultan.

The construction began on 15 April 1452. Each one of the three main towers was named after the Pashas who supervised their construction. The Sultan personally inspected the activities on the site. With the help of thousands of masons and workers, the fortress was completed in a record time of 4 months and 16 days on 31 August 1452.

The sultan wanted to cheer up the builders so he allegedly ordered them to build the castle in the shape of the name of Muhammad the Muslim prophet, which can be seen from above. Muhammad and Mehmed share the same Arabic spelling (محمد), and so he may have also made the fortress as an homage to himself.


The Rumelihisarı fortification has one small tower, three main towers, and thirteen small watchtowers placed on the walls connecting the main towers. One watchtower is in the form of a quadrangular prism, six watchtowers are shaped as prisms with multiple corners and six others are cylindrical. 

  • Fortress of Europe (Rumeli Hisarı)
    Open: daily from 09.00 – 16.30, no entrance after 16.00
    Closed: Wednesday, and until 13.00 on the first day of religious holidays 

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