Istanbul is a city which is unique enough as it links the two continents, but there are also two details that sure make Istanbul’s magnificent view even more unique: the Anatolian and the Rumelian Castles. These historical structures are the unforgettable parts of Istanbul’s skyline. Regardless of their story and construction purpose, they have a prominent place among the historical beauties of Istanbul, and even today these time-defying structures awaken admiration in those who see their majesty... But what are the stories behind these fortresses? Here are the stories of the Anatolian and the Rumelian Castles!
Anatolian Castle, one of the most important symbols of the Bosphorus
The Anatolian Castle is located in the narrowest part of the Bosphorus and is directly opposite the Rumelian Castle. It was commissioned in 1395 by Yıldırım Bayezid. This special historical structure was built to ward off attacks from the Bosphorus that may threaten Anatolia. As the region where the Anatolian Castle is located dominates the critical sections of the Bosphorus, the Bosphorus became easily controllable after the construction of the fortress.
The Byzantines and the Genoese were colonies in this area at the time of the construction of the Anatolian Castle. It was very important for the Ottomans and the Genoese to dominate the Bosphorus. The importance of this for the Ottomans was to prevent attacks from the Black Sea and cut off the supply lines to the Byzantine Empire from the Black Sea during a potential siege of Istanbul. Finally, the Ottomans convinced the Genoese of the necessity to build the fortress. And the fortress was built.
The Anatolian Castle has an important place in the Ottoman history. When Yıldırım Bayezid Khan was defeated in the Ankara War, his son Süleyman Çelebi found there refuge for a while. The same fortress was used during the reign of Murad II to provide passage for the army into Rumelia to stop the Crusaders and the Hungarian army. After the conquest of Istanbul, the Anatolian Castle was no longer a strategic point but it continued to be used for different purposes. For a while, it served as a janissary prison and later became a neighborhood around which where army officers and their families settled. It was also used to control the Bosphorus traffic and perform tax checks... During the Republic Period, it was put under protection for tourism purposes. Today, it is still under protection and visited by tourists.
Rumelian Castle, one of the most important historical structures in Istanbul
The Rumelian Castle, located in the Sarıyer district of Istanbul, was built by Mehmed the Conqueror directly opposite the Anatolian Castle before the conquest of Istanbul. The fortress was meant to serve the same purpose as its peer, the Anatolian Castle: prevent attacks from the north of the Bosphorus. It was built before the siege of the city (in 1452) and was completed in as short a time as 4 months in order to prevent any help arriving from the Black Sea during the siege.
Mehmed the Conqueror took some measures when he decided to lay siege to the city. Unless the ships passing through the Bosphorus were taken under control, the siege was bound to be a failure. The Anatolian Castle, previously built for the same purpose, was not enough to control the ships coming from the Black Sea due to the insufficiency of the range of the artillery used back then. The Sultan therefore decided to have a new fortress built to take control of the Bosphorus. In March 1452, in order to prepare for the conquest of Istanbul and to dominate the Bosphorus, the construction of the fortress personally designed by Mehmed the Conqueror began. The construction of the fortress was completed in as short a time as 4 months.
Rumelian Castle was given the name “Boğazkesen” (Strait-Cutter) by Mehmed the Conqueror. Over the years, it was also mentioned under the names such as Yenihisar, Yenicehisar, Yenikale, Nikhisar, Başkesen. It was finally called the Rumelian Castle due to its location. Today, it complements the Istanbul skyline with its unique location and is visited frequently by history enthusiasts.
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