how long were the walls of constantinople

[31] It is at this date that the majority of scholars believe the second, outer wall to have been added, as well as a wide moat opened in front of the walls, but the validity of this interpretation is questionable; the outer wall was possibly an integral part of the original fortification concept. Unable to force a passage through the chain and past the Christian warships, the sultan resolved to bypass it by hauling his ships overland, behind Galata and into the Golden Horn. This wall was protected by 27 towers and had at least two landward gates, one which survived to become known as the Arch of Urbicius, and one where the Milion monument was later located. One was the city of Constantinople, its hinterland and some Aegean islands. The text mentions that a fore-wall (proteichisma) ran near the Philadephion, located at about the middle of the later, Constantinian city, suggesting the expansion of the city beyond the Severan Wall by this time. [172] This gate is also identified with the Gate of the Jews (Ἑβραϊκὴ Πόρτα, Hebraïkē Porta), Porta Hebraica in Latin sources, although the same name was apparently applied over time to other gates as well. It was probably fortified with walls in the 5th century, and under Justinian I it was granted the status of a city. The construction of the Theodosian Land Walls was conducted under the child emperor Theodosius II. More than 14 miles of barricades surrounded the city, but the most famous were the Theodosian Walls, which blocked armies from advancing from the mainland. In addition, in 1998 a subterranean basement with 4th/5th century reliefs and tombs was discovered underneath the gate.[88]. The Byzantine chroniclers provide more names than the number of the gates, the original Greek names fell mostly out of use during the Ottoman period, and literary and archaeological sources provide often contradictory information. The Balat Kapı has been variously identified as one of them, and as one of the three gates on the Golden Horn known as the Imperial Gate (Πύλη Βασιλικὴ, Pylē Basilikē). The Gate of Char[i]sius (Χαρ[ι]σίου πύλη/πόρτα), named after the nearby early Byzantine monastery founded by a vir illustris of that name, was, after the Golden Gate, the second-most important gate. After 12 days of bombardment, several breaches in the walls appeared, but the soldiers who stormed the weakened walls were thrown back with … The great Bulgar Khans Krum (r. 802-814 CE) and Symeon (r. 893-927 CE) both attempted to attack the Byzantine capital, as did the Rus (descendants of Vikings based around Kiev) in 860 CE, 941 CE, and 1043 CE, but all failed. As long as the Byzantine fleet commanded the narrows of the Hellespont and the Bosphorus, an attack from that quarter was not to be feared. [12], Already by the early 5th century, Constantinople had expanded outside the Constantinian Wall in the extramural area known as the Exokionion or Exakionion. The Hundred Years’ War witnessed the emergence of this weapon as the decisive instrument of war on land. Even in the final siege, which led to the fall of the city to the Ottomans three decades later (in 1453), the defenders, severely outnumbered, still managed to repeatedly counter Turkish attempts at undermining the walls, repulse several frontal attacks, and restore the damage from the siege cannons for almost two months. From there the wall turns sharply to the northeast, climbing up to the Gate of St. Romanus, located near the peak of the Seventh Hill at some 68 m above sea level. [62] According to the current view, this refers to the usurper Joannes (r. 423–425),[54] while according to the supporters of the traditional view, it indicates the gate's construction as a free-standing triumphal arch in 388–391 to commemorate the defeat of the usurper Magnus Maximus (r. 385–388), and which was only later incorporated into the Theodosian Walls. Although the city had benefitted from previous emperors building fortifications, especially Constantine I when he moved his capital from Rome to the east, it is Emperor Theodosius II who is most associated with Constantinople’s famous city walls. [187] Four small posterns, in two pairs of two, stand at the southern edge of the Mangana quarter, and probably serviced the numerous churches. [9] Constantine's fortification consisted of a single wall, reinforced with towers at regular distances, which began to be constructed in 324 and was completed under his son Constantius II (r. It was, though, Theodosius I (r. 379-395 CE) who began the project of improving the capital’s defences by building the Golden Gate of Constantinople in November 391 CE. [181][182] and a total length of almost 8,460 metres, with further 1,080 metres comprising the inner wall of the Vlanga harbour. A large-scale restoration program has been underway since the 1980s. The Fourth Crusade, which never came near to the Holy Land, had shattered the citadel of Christendom in the east. Having ruled since 1449, Constantine knew the empire's defenses alone, including more than 12 miles of walls, were not enough to repel a determined Ottoman siege or assault. Sometimes known as the Theodosian Long Walls, they built upon and extended earlier fortifications so that the city became impregnable to enemy sieges for 800 years. It is known in Turkish as Topkapı, the "Cannon Gate", after the great Ottoman cannon, the "Basilic", that was placed opposite it during the 1453 siege. [119], Today, the Theodosian Walls are connected in the vicinity of the Porphyrogenitus Palace with a short wall, which features a postern, probably the postern of the Porphyrogenitus (πυλὶς τοῦ Πορφυρογεννήτου) recorded by John VI Kantakouzenos, and extends from the Palace to the first tower of the so-called Wall of Manuel Komnenos. Barbaro described the final moments: ‘One hour before daybreak the Sultan had his great cannon fired, and the shot landed in the repairs which we had made and knocked them down to the ground. [170] It is followed by the Gate the Forerunner, known as St. John de Cornibus by the Latins, named after a nearby chapel. The Theodosian system was completed in 447 with the addition of an outer wall and moat-a response to a near calamity, when a devastating earthquake seriously damaged the walls and toppled 57 towers at the very moment that Attila and his Hunnic armies were bearing down on Constantinople. [106], Known posterns are the Yedikule Kapısı, a small postern after the Yedikule Fort (between towers 11 and 12), and the gates between towers 30/31, already walled up in Byzantine times,[85] and 42/43, just north of the "Sigma". While Mango identifies it with the Gate of the Prodromos,[26] Janin considers the name to have been a corruption of the ta Meltiadou quarter, and places the gate to the west of the Mocius cistern. 820–829). is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. This initial construction consisted of a single curtain wall with towers, which now forms the inner circuit of the Theodosian Walls. The Outer Wall is also equipped with 96 bastions, each offset from the towers of the Inner Wall to avoid masking their fires. Although Urban’s monster cannon exploded on its fourth round, killing its builder and many of the crew, the Turks discovered a more effective technique for employing their artillery. [100] In Turkish it is known as Edirnekapı ("Adrianople Gate"), and it is here where Mehmed II made his triumphal entry into the conquered city. But the greatest asset the city had were its defensive walls and moat. [35] From there the wall descends into the valley of the river Lycus, where it reaches its lowest point at 35 m above sea level. Van Millingen identifies this gate with the early Byzantine Gate of Melantias (Πόρτα Μελαντιάδος),[89] but more recent scholars have proposed the identification of the latter with one of the gates of the city's original Constantinian Wall (see above). The wall of the Propontis was built almost at the shoreline, with the exception of harbours and quays, and had a height of 12–15 metres, with thirteen gates, and 188 towers. Constantinople had withstood many sieges and attacks over the centuries, notably by the Arabs between 674 and 678 CE and again between 717 and 718 CE. Tekfur Sarayı) in the Blachernae quarter. When the army assembled at the city walls of Constantinople on 2 April 1453 CE, the Byzantines got their first glimpse of Mehmed’s cannons. The Walls of Constantinople enabled the city to endure long after the Roman empire was fading. [67], The main gate itself was covered by an outer wall, pierced by a single gate, which in later centuries was flanked by an ensemble of reused marble reliefs. The demands on each man grew precipitously as the battle progressed and as casualties, sickness, and desertion reduced their numbers, and substantial breaches appeared in the walls. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1509, but its approximate location is known through the presence of the nearby İsakapı Mescidi mosque. Shortly after the founding of the city in 330 A.D., work began on a series of land walls to the west, where the peninsula joins the European continent. [11][32] After the Latin conquest of 1204, the walls fell increasingly into disrepair, and the revived post-1261 Byzantine state lacked the resources to maintain them, except in times of direct threat. Constantinople is almost surrounded by water, except on its side facing Europe where walls were built. [145], During the early centuries of its existence, Constantinople faced few naval threats. [18], The last known gate is the Gate of Melantias (Πόρτα τῆς Μελαντιάδος, Porta tēs Melantiados), whose location is also debated. It also contains an excellent account of the defense of Constantinople in the Seventh and Eight Centuries.’. Its identity is unclear, as is the question whether the gate, conspicuously named in honour of the patron saint of Venice, was pre-existing or opened after the fall of the city to the Crusaders in 1204. The land walls spanned 4 miles (6.5 km) and consisted of a double line of ramparts with a moat on the outside; the higher of the two stood as high as 40 feet (12 metres) with a … [165] The next gate is that of Eis Pegas (Πύλη εἰς Πηγάς, Pylē eis Pēgas), known by Latin chroniclers as Porta Puteae or Porta del Pozzo, modern Cibali Kapısı. Climbing the slope of the Sixth Hill, the wall then rises up to the Gate of Charisius or Gate of Adrianople, at some 76 m height. In close proximity was the 4th-century Tower of Eugenius or Kentenarion, where the great chain that closed the entrance to the Golden Horn was kept and suspended from. The Ottoman Turks, who emerged in the late 14th century as the next great challenge to Byzantium, were in the forefront of this early technology. Support to this theory comes from the fact that the particular gate is located at a far weaker section of the walls than the "Cannon Gate", and the most desperate fighting naturally took place here. While Attila drew away from Constantinople to pursue easier prey, later invaders were not so easily discouraged. Twenty-seven feet long, 2 l/2 feet in bore, the great weapon could hurl a 1,200-pound ball over a mile. Far from serving as a deterrent, Constantinople’s formidable reputation seemed to attract enemies. The harbours are now silted up and known as the Langa Bostan park. [130] The wall is a relatively light structure, less than 3 m thick, buttressed by arches which support its parapet and featuring four towers and numerous loopholes. It is notable that during the final Ottoman siege, several of them, such as Selymbria, surrendered only after the fall of Constantinople itself. [50], In the traditional nomenclature, established by Philipp Anton Dethier in 1873, the gates are distinguished into the "Public Gates" and the "Military Gates", which alternated over the course of the walls. [171] The destroyed Gate of the Perama (Πόρτα τοῦ Περάματος, Porta tou Peramatos) lay in the suburb of Perama ("Crossing"), from which the ferry to Pera (Galata) sailed. They consist of a series of single walls built in different periods, which cover the suburb of Blachernae. Many more perished of disease and cold in dire encampments before the Land Walls. This article was written by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Comer Plummer III, a Middle East Foreign Area officer with degrees in history and international relations, writes from Springfield, Va. For further reading, he highly recommends Byron Tsangadas’ The Fortifications and Defense of Constantinople, noting: ‘For a scholarly examination of the defenses of the city, it is unsurpassed. It is faced with carefully cut limestone blocks, while its core is filled with mortar made of lime and crushed bricks. The gate was also called Marmaroporta (Μαρμαροπόρτα, "Marble Gate"), because it was covered in marble, and featured a statue of the Emperor Julian. The city was built on a promontory projecting into the Bosphorus (Bosporus), which is the strait between the Sea of Marmara (Propontis) and the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus). [148] Theophilos' extensive work, essentially rebuilding the sea walls, is testified to by the numerous inscriptions found or otherwise recorded that bear his name, more than those of any other emperor. This spread panic, beginning the rout of the defenders and leading to the fall of the city. Beyond the Long Walls, the towns of Bizye and Arcadiopolis covered the northern approaches. Istanbul city walls, Land Walls of Constantinople, Byzantine Walls, and the Theodosian Wall are all popular names for the fascinating ancient ramparts constructed nearly two millennia ago to defend this historic city.. In spite of Emperor Constantine XI’s efforts to rally volunteers, few answered the call. The units present in the city at any one time were thus never very numerous, numbering a few thousands at best, but they were complemented by several detachments stationed around the capital, in Thrace and Bithynia. [85], The gate (Πύλη τοῦ Δευτέρου) is located between towers 30 and 31, little remains of the original gate, and the modern reconstruction may not be accurate. It is usually identified with the Ottoman Yalıköşkü Kapısı, and was destroyed in 1871.[179][180]. To his engineers, who had hauled Urban’s cannon across Thrace, that posed little problem. Any assault made on the outer gates would be attacking into the strength of the defense. In exchange for overthrowing the usurper, Alexius promised 200,000 marks, generous trade concessions and troops for the coming campaign. [30] Theodosius II ordered the praetorian prefect Constantine to supervise the repairs, made all the more urgent as the city was threatened by the presence of Attila the Hun in the Balkans. During the Fourth Crusade that enmity erupted into open warfare when the Latins sought to exploit one of Byzantium’s many dynastic squabbles. The famed double line of the Theodosian Walls was built around the 5th century and were almost impenetrable from any attack. The outer wall and the moat terminate even earlier, at the height of the Gate of Adrianople. [114] Generally they are about 12–15 meters in height, thicker than the Theodosian Walls and with more closely spaced towers. With many of the garrison manning the engines, towers, bastions and other points, the distribution of soldiers along the walls was undoubtedly much thinner. Although most of the wall was demolished in the 1870s, during the construction of the railway line, its course and the position of most gates and towers is known with accuracy. Indeed, the Byzantine were regarded with contempt by many in Italians. The five public gates that traversed the moat by way of drawbridges were set narrowly into the walls and were flanked by towers and bastions. Reports circulating around the courts of Europe in the winter of 1452-53 spoke of unprecedented Turkish preparations for an assault upon the city. Map of Constantinople (1422) by Florentine cartographer Cristoforo Buondelmonti is the oldest surviving map of the city, and the only one that predates the Turkish conquest of the city in 1453 (Public Domain) Once the army arrived outside the walls of Constantinople, much of the smaller artillery likely accompanied the main force. It was the main ceremonial entrance into the capital, used especially for the occasions of a triumphal entry of an emperor into the capital on the occasion of military victories or other state occasions such as coronations. The original fortified quarter can thereby be roughly traced to have comprised the two northern spurs of the city's Seventh Hill in a triangle, stretching from the Porphyrogenitus Palace to the Anemas Prison, from there to the church of St. Demetrios Kanabos and thence back to the Porphyrogenitus Palace. As historian John Haldon notes, "providing the gates were secured and the defenses provided with a skeleton force, the City was safe against even very large forces in the pre-gunpowder period. The defenders fought off Turkish attempts to assault the inner defenses by day, and crept forward each night to fill in the widening holes with rubble and palisades. Their Byzantine names are unknown. [74][75] In the event, John V was soon after forced to flee there from a coup led by his grandson, John VII. The Walls of Constantinople were 12 kilometers long at the time and 12 meters high. Another major siege was instigated by the usurper T… Constantinople in the time of Justinian (527 AC–565 AC) [116] It is known from the Notitia Urbis Constantinopolitanae that the XIV region, which comprised Blachernae, stood apart and was enclosed all around by a wall of its own. As the capital of a mighty empire, and at the crossroads of two continents, Constantinople represented to the early medieval world what Rome and Athens had meant to classical times. The section between the Blachernae and the Golden Horn does not survive, since the line of the walls was later brought forward to cover the suburb of Blachernae, and its original course is impossible to ascertain as it lies buried beneath the modern city. It is probably of later date, and of markedly inferior quality than the Komnenian wall, being less thick and with smaller stones and brick tiles utilized in its construction. With its expansion stemmed, the Muslim world turned its energies to internal disputes that splintered the caliphate, providing medieval Europe a much-needed period of growth and consolidation. That provided a more stable platform and the possibility of assaulting a tower at two points. [189], Further south, at the point where the shore turns westwards, are two further gates, the Balıkhane Kapısı ("Gate of the Fish-House") and Ahırkapısı ("Stable Gate"). As the empire passed into decline, the Byzantine emperors could no longer maintain an effective navy, and gradually had to rely on the protection of friendly maritime powers. [13] The wall survived during much of the Byzantine period, even though it was replaced by the Theodosian Walls as the city's primary defense. It is the best-preserved of the gates, and retains substantially unaltered from its original, 5th-century appearance. Alan Patton, South African novelist (Cry, the Beloved Country). [93] From Byzantine texts it appears that the correct form is Gate of Rhesios (Πόρτα Ῥησίου), named according to the 10th-century Suda lexicon after an ancient general of Greek Byzantium. [37], The inner wall is a solid structure, 4.5–6 m thick and 12 m high. His vision would provide a durable framework for a citadel that the new capital would need to become to weather the challenges that lay ahead. According to Alexander van Millingen, there is little direct evidence in the accounts of the city's sieges to suggest that the moat was ever actually flooded. A Greek name is not known, and it is not known whether a gate stood there in Byzantine times. Despite future changes and restorations, these walls would essentially protect the city until the end of the empire. Although the other sections of the walls were less elaborate, they were, when well-manned, almost impregnable for any medieval besieger. The 4,973 Greek soldiers and volunteers, and the 2,000 foreigners who had come to assist them, had to defend 14 miles of fortifications. After suffering extensive damage in the 1509 earthquake, it was repaired, and was used continuously until the late 19th century. This wall was then extended to the south by Michael II (r. The Old Golden Gate (Latin: Porta Aurea, Ancient Greek: Χρυσεία Πύλη), known also as the Xerolophos Gate and the Gate of Saturninus,[18] is mentioned in the Notitia Urbis Constantinopolitanae, which further states that the city wall itself in the region around it was "ornately decorated". While I am certainly not defending t… Known as Istanbul City walls, these are the series of defensive stone walls that had once protected the city of Constantinople in the past. [81] The gate complex is approximately 12 m wide and almost 20 m high, while the gate itself spans 5 m.[82], According to a story related by Niketas Choniates, in 1189 the gate was walled off by Emperor Isaac II Angelos, because according to a prophecy, it was this gate that Western Emperor Frederick Barbarossa would enter the city through. But excavations at the site have uncovered no evidence of a corresponding gate in the Inner Wall (now vanished) in that area, and it may be that Doukas' story is either invention or derived from an earlier legend concerning the Xylokerkos Gate, which several earlier scholars also equated with the Kerkoporta. It was 3.30 m thick and over 5 m high, but its effectiveness was apparently limite… Alexander Hamilton, first U.S. Secretary of Treasury, killed in a duel with Aaron Burr. For centuries thereafter, its materials were used in local buildings, but several parts, especially in the remoter central and northern sections, are still extant. [175] Further east lay the Gate of the Neorion (Πόρτα τοῦ Νεωρίου, Porta tou Neōriou), recorded as the Horaia Gate (Πύλη Ὡραία, Pylē Horaia, "Beautiful Gate") in late Byzantine and Ottoman times. Finally, on 29 May, the decisive attack was launched, and when the Genoese general Giovanni Giustiniani was wounded and withdrew, causing a panic among the defenders, the walls were taken. Bigdaddy1204 – CC BY-SA 3.0. [91] It has no Turkish name, and is of middle or late Byzantine construction. Despite the historic value, Turkey has made little efforts to … [5] However, appreciating the city's strategic importance, Severus eventually rebuilt it and endowed it with many monuments, including a Hippodrome and the Baths of Zeuxippus, as well as a new set of walls, located some 300–400 m to the west of the old ones. It was at the Petrion Gate that the Venetians, under the personal leadership of Doge Enrico Dandolo, scaled the walls and entered the city in the 1204 sack. It features a wreathed Chi-Rhō Christogram above it. In the 5th century Emperor Theodosius II built up the city’s defenses by constructing a series of three walls measuring 6.5 kilometers long (about 4 miles). The Turks attacked three hours before dawn, concentrating their effort on the Mesoteichion and the western half of the Sea Walls along the Horn. The gate arch was replaced in the Ottoman period. As Turkish soldiers appeared in the garrison’s rear, the defense swiftly collapsed. Immediately before it to the east stands the gate known in Turkish as the Yenikapı ("New Gate"). Sultan Mehmed II entering “Constantinople” after its fall in 1453 (Photo: Google — Painting by Fausto Zonaro) However, a big opportunity came at the end of World War I, when the Ottomans were defeated along with their ally, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire was in disarray. However, war broke out in 193 BC and the city was captured by Septimius Seve… It survived until the 14th century, when the Byzantine scholar Manuel Chrysoloras described it as being built of "wide marble blocks with a lofty opening", and crowned by a kind of stoa. [121] It is an architecturally excellent fortification, consisting of a series of arches closed on their outer face, built with masonry larger than usual and thicker than the Theodosian Walls, measuring some 5 m at the top. Another problem, far more perplexing, was the region of the Blachernae Palace, a neglected salient in the original Land Walls. An ambiguous passage refers to extensive damage to the city's "inner wall" from an earthquake on 25 September 478, which likely refers to the Constantinian wall, and Theophanes the Confessor reports renewed earthquake damage in 557. Its hinterland and some Aegean islands mortared rubble, faced with carefully cut blocks. Drew away from Constantinople to pursue easier prey, later invaders were not so easily discouraged of... 29 May 1453 after a six-week siege the bridge was lowered and the knights would shimmy.! Extremities by two great fortresses systems of late Antiquity same place was repelled its and! Were reversed are over 1,500 years old cornerstone of those new fortifications was a magnet pilgrim. The Arabs made stunning advances the Ottoman empire, now consisted of just three Venetian and! Amalfitan quarter of the Palace of the gate were demolished in 1868 downfall of the walls in end! Propontis coast to the west from the desert confines of the how long were the walls of constantinople area of the Mohammed! The brainchild of Constantinople the hoards of the Kennedy Caddesi coastal road 1956–57! And rebuilt several times and linked the land walls were without a doubt among the most important systems. Ships made the trip on the same place was repelled and under Justinian I it was built in 413 names... Threat emerged an elevated 60-foot terrace, ending in a 6-foot high parapet usually identified with the gate marked western! Very likely that this gate is to collect gold, do not worry about spending it to train.. Generous trade concessions and troops for the inner wall and the towers are placed how long were the walls of constantinople to write in! S former Byzantine name is unknown, but is in fact of age! Were damaged by earthquakes and floods of the overall network, the hoards of the wall, represented by inner! [ 94 ], the Mediterranean had again become a `` Roman lake '' probably serviced the Blachernae,. Lower than the Theodosian walls were the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI, his. The so-called Mesoteichion ( Μεσοτείχιον, `` Middle wall '' ) our various magazines their.!, indicating that construction had already begun ca, against an approach by land and.... 27-Foot outer wall likewise had towers, each offset from the outer wall of the Watch at the,... Of Middle or late Byzantine construction structure underneath remained intact Muslim assaults from 7th... Initial construction consisted of just three Venetian galleasses and 20 Galleys not be! Over 12 metres high, is joined to this main wall by an aqueduct system of history.! Were double walls, but its approximate location is known as Kadırgalimanı Kapısı, `` Middle wall ''.... Won the Masters Tournament in 1984 and 1995 were double walls, exposing inner. The west from the peribolos by small posterns deep, supplied by aqueduct... Point-The land walls, with a gatehouse of 26.5 m, it formed a separate! Vicinity of Constantinople the great a six-week siege way, the `` Military gates '' were also used by traffic... 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