Yedikule Castle, Istanbul
Yedikule Castle, meaning the Castle of Seven Towers, was constructed in 1458 under the orders of Sultan Mehmed II, who added three new towers and enclosed a section of the city’s walls. In Turkish, “Yedi” means seven, and “Kule” means tower.
The castle is comprised of two twin towers, while the Golden Gate of Victory was built by the Roman emperors Theodosius I and Theodosius II.
Yedikule Castle is renowned as a formidable royal dungeon that has housed significant figures throughout history. The dungeons bear witness to various experiences, as evident in the inscriptions carved by prisoners on the walls. Historical documents indicate that prisoners occupied these dungeons until the 1820s. Sari highlighted that the wooden structure housing the prisoners was last assessed approximately 250 years ago, and carbon testing has not yet been conducted. He emphasized that the dungeons also hold architectural significance in history.
History of Yedikule Castle in Istanbul
Yedikule Castle was constructed during the Ottoman period in 1458. Sultan Mehmed II established a complex of seven towers by adding three new towers and completely enclosing a section of the ancient building.
Yedikule Castle includes the Golden Gate, which was built as a triumphal arch during the Byzantine period, and three towers added after the conquest of Istanbul.
The castle served as a place of imprisonment for individuals involved in palace conspiracies, internal conflicts, and political opponents of the imperial court. During wars with other countries, the Ottomans held their allies and the ambassadors of those countries hostage at Yedikule Castle.
One notable historical event at Yedikule Castle involved the imprisonment and execution of Janissaries by Osman II in 1622. Additionally, during the Napoleonic Wars, the castle housed numerous French prisoners, including writer and diplomat François Poqueville, who spent more than two years (1799-1801) there. Poqueville provided a detailed description of the fortress in his travels in Constantinople, Constantinople, and Albania, and Dens Placivers for the Ottoman Empire.
The first mosque constructed by the conqueror after the capture of Istanbul is situated within this approximately 560-year-old castle. Built in 1458, the remains of the mosque were discovered through archaeological excavations..
Restoration of Yedikule Castle
This historical monument underwent restoration by the General Administration of the Foundation from 1958 to 1970, employing modern technological conditions. Yedikule Castle is frequently utilized as a government prison.
Ergon Turan, the mayor of Fatih, commented on the restoration efforts, stating that Yedikule Castle holds significant historical importance in Istanbul and has played various roles throughout history. He noted that the structure had endured wear and tear over many years, prompting the municipality to embark on the restoration process, which is expected to last approximately 1.5 years. The initial phase of restoration involves reinforcing the inner wall between the Third Ahmed Tower and the North Pylon Tower, conducting archaeological excavations in the middle courtyard, and landscaping under the supervision of the Istanbul Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum. In accordance with the first-stage restoration projects, landscaping has been carried out in the middle yard, and pathways have been created.
Mayor Fatih also announced plans to transform Yedikule Castle into a place where visitors can engage in cultural and artistic activities, emphasizing its potential as a destination for public exploration.
The towers of Yedikule Castle in Istanbul
Four of these seven towers were built by the Byzantine emperors and three of them were built during the reign of Fatih Sultan.
As this building was once utilized as an ammunition depot, it derived its name from this historical association. Additionally, two state prisoners were executed here
The tower’s name is derived from the Sultan of Time, who played a significant role in its restoration. Unfortunately, despite his efforts, the tower succumbed to an earthquake and could not survive intact until today.
The government treasury was initially housed in this tower. However, after storing the treasure for a period, it was eventually relocated to the palace.
The Inscription Tower is also known as the Dungeon Tower. Unfortunately, the wooden sections of this tower, utilized as a dungeon, suffered extensive damage due to a fire.
This tower was severely damaged in the fires. It has also been used as a prison.
This tower is situated above the Golden Gate. Known as the strongest tower among Yedikule, it was the location where the flag of the Ottoman government proudly flew.
How to go to Yedikule Castle in Istanbul?
Yedikule Castle is located in the Fatih neighborhood of Istanbul, stretching from Sarajevo to Bakirkoy. The castle is situated approximately 10 km from Taksim Square and 6 km from Golden Horn Hill. One of the most convenient ways to reach Yedikule Castle is by using a bus. You can take a bus from Taksim Square that goes directly to Yedikule Castle.
Another option is to use the metro. To reach the castle, take the Marmara metro line and alight at Kazlicesme station. From there, it’s a short walk to Yedikule Castle.
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Frequently asked questions about Yedikule Castle in Istanbul
Where is Yedikule Castle located?
Yedikule Castle is located in the Fatih neighborhood, specifically at Yedikule Square, offering a scenic view overlooking the Sea of Marmara.
What does Yedikule Castle mean?
Yedikule Castle means Seven Towers Castle; in Turkish, “Yedi” means seven, and “Kule” means tower.
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