Richard & Stacy's Round the World Trip 2001

Up
The Church of St. Saviour
The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus
Along the City Walls
Yedikule Castle
The Paradise Restaurant

Yedikule, the "Castle of Seven Towers" was commissioned by none other that Mehmet II himself, shortly after capturing Constantinople. He had it built around the Golden Gate, which in Byzantine times was the main entrance to the walled city. The Golden Gate is on the opposite side of Yedikule from the Entrance Gate, and there is the remains of a Roman-style road leading between the gates. The Golden Gate actually dates back to the time of Constantine himself, before Theodosius and the wall. This was the processional gate, where new emperors would mark the investiture of the city or where a triumphant army would return to the city from a successful campaign.

The Golden Gate itself was so named because it was indeed covered in gold plate and the facade was decorated with sculptures, including a statue of a Winged Victory, four bronze elephants and an image of the emperor of the day.

With these wonders in mind, we followed the road into Yedikule, and along it to the Golden Gate.

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After passing through the entrance gate, we come into a large courtyard. In this picture we are looking northwest toward the Byzantine walls and the Tower of Ahmet III in the corner of Yedikule.   The entrance way of Yedikule is also on the Golden Path, the road that led through the Golden Gate into the city. In Byzantine times, the new Emperor in triumphant procession would travel down this very path - likely it was a bit tidier then.
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The Golden Gate! At the end of the path is this large Byzantine wall, the center opening with the red brick was the original Golden Gate on the inner wall. The red brick dates from the 15th century.    Looking at the opening to the left of the Golden Gate. This is another Byzantine era opening through the wall, with a much newer generation steel gate across the entrance.
 Click to see a larger version...   Looking through the steel gate across the left-hand opening, you can see what was once the outer wall Golden Gate. In Byzantine times, this was the structure that was sheathed in gold and covered with the fabulous facade. Of course, that was a few years ago (like 1,500).

Okay, so the Golden Gate isn't exactly golden any more. But there' still an amazing sense of history, standing in front of these ancient gates. Then we looked further to the left of the gate and saw some strange concrete structures... after pushing through the undergrowth, we came upon some sort of stage. It was hard to tell exactly how old it was, but it was a modern stage, but in serious disrepair.

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We came upon this stage left of the Golden Gate after pushing through some brush.   The rows of concrete benches were disintegrating due to weather and plant growth...
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Climbing up on the stage, we looked over the crowd of jungle plants... notice even the stage deck is growing.   A peek behind the stage showed more jungle.
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At the top of the seating area was this building, which is barely visible from the stage.   Heading back out from the stage area, caught Stacy wonder why we were here looking at old stages... notice the bags of cement in the archway of the Golden Gate. The actual gate is blocked off.

After the somewhat surreal experience of encountering a modern stage structure that was ruins in and around some 500 and 1,500 year old ruins, we headed back to the Golden Gate. If that is what we found to the left of the gate, what the heck would we find to the right?

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This is the gate beside the Golden Gate to the right - you can see the archway, its the same size as the one on the left, just completely bricked in. And the bricks are made of marble!   Looking past that part of the gate along the western wall... this is the part of Yedikule that is built into the Theodosian City Walls, so the towers and walls are 1,500 years old. See the small doorway on the left of the picture? Its open! Let's go see!
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Peeking into the doorway in the wall, the doors have a broken lock on them and have been smashed open. Time to tread carefully.   Inside the room is the wooden frame of the tower... how old could this wood be? There was an opening at the top that could have been climbed to... not that Stacy would be happy about it.
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Moving back from the doorway in the wall into the field, another stage is found in the field - this one much more modern.   Stacy in the center of the courtyard, standing on the path from the Golden Gate to the Entrance Gate - the Entrance Gate is in the background.

After doing our own exploring, it was time to get back to the sights the guidebook points out, exploring the walls and towers of Yedikule. All around the courtyard there are stone stairways going up the wall, which is at least four stories up. And these stairways don't have rails... well, almost...

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On the north side of the field, the one staircase up the wall that has a railing... all the others are wide open.   Stacy climbing the railed stairway.
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Looking south off the wall into the field of Yedikule, at the "new" stage.   Stacy on the northern wall of Yedikule, the stairway just behind her to the right. This is a BIG wide, wall... but not many concessions for safety (like rails, etc).
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Turning around from Stacy and looking west shows more stairs to the top of the wall, and the Tower of Ahmet III at the end of the wall. The wall to the left is the original Theodosian wall...   Walking past the Tower of Ahmet III on to the old City Wall and looking over the side, into the courtyards of the walls and the outer Golden Gate. The tall structure on the left is the tower with the open door that we peeked into.

Stacy was happy on the wall, looking out at the view... Richard wanted to check out the towers as well, starting with the Tower of Ahmet III.

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Whoa! The inside of the tower is kind of hollow... there's nothing inside the tower, its a drop sixty feet to the ground. There's a spiral staircase at the entry to the tower going to the top.   From the top of the tower looking north up the City Walls... the courtyard between the walls are being farmed, lived in. An amazing ruin, being used in perfectly ordinary ways.
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From the top of the Tower of Ahmet III looking southeast at the Tower of Inscriptions on the opposite side of Yedikule.   Looking southwest from the Tower of Ahmet III to the southern end of the City Walls and the Sea of Marmara.
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From the far side of the top of the tower looking at the spiral staircase... at the top of the picture is the entrance way to the tower from the wall. Only the top, red part of the staircase is open...   Which is just as well... the lower part of the staircase is dilapidated, stairs missing and frail... just to reach the bottom of a tower that has nothing in it.

Leaving the Tower of Ahmet III, Richard moves east along the wall, passing Stacy along the way and heads into the Treasury Tower, so named because at one time it held the treasury of the Ottoman empire. The treasury was later moved to Topkapi Palace once its construction was completed.

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Moving east along the northern wall of Yedikule toward the Treasury Tower. Looking through the doorway of the Treasury Tower, straight through the tower to the far wall. The row of holes shows where the lumber that supported the floor used to be.
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To the left of the entrance way is a dark staircase... feeling one step at a time up the stairs led to the top of the tower... Looking west out of the tower along the wall, back toward the Tower of Ahmet III. Stacy is down there somewhere...
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Part way around the top of the tower is a tiny little stairway to the very top of the tower...   At the very top of the tower is a glass roof covering the interior of the tower. This is a picture through a broken glass panel into the tower, the third doorway from the bottom (square) is the entrance doorway.

Stacy took a peek into the Treasury Tower and decided that was enough towers for her... she'd wait on the wall while Richard explored some more. From the Treasury Tower Richard headed south along the eastern wall toward the Entrance Gate tower and the Tower of Inscriptions. 

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Moving south along the eastern wall, Richard reaches the doorway of the Entrance Gate Tower.    Inside the Entrance Gate Tower, looking down on another set of doorways and a path ten feet below.
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Just past the Entrance Gate Tower, looking west across the fields of Yedikule, you can just see the Golden Gate. The brick tower near the middle of the field is the ruins of a mosque.   Looking through the entrance doorway of the Tower of Inscriptions, so called for the names and dates carved in the wall by the prisoners held in this tower over the years.
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The flash of the camera illuminates this otherwise pitch black staircase up to the top of the tower.   At the top of the Tower of Inscriptions, looking down into the tower. The cylindrical device on the floor is a rusty old heater of some kind.
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From the top of the Tower of Inscriptions, looking southwest down the wall... half way along is a triangular tower.   Just like the Treasury Tower, the Inscription Tower has a higher point, only this time its a stone ramp instead of a stairway.
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From the highest point of the Tower of Inscription, the view east toward the hotel (some 15kms away) into Istanbul.   Looking northwest back over Yedikule at the northern wall, on the left is the Tower of Ahmet III, on the right the Treasury Tower is just out of view and in the middle on top of the wall is Stacy.
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Back down the dark stairway, walked down one step at a time, feeling the way foot by foot.   Before going down the stairway, a quick look up at the unbroken glass ceiling of the Tower of Inscription.
Click to see a larger version...   The most frightening moment of the exploration of the towers was walking along this catwalk - its a freefall drop of sixty feet below. The iron catwalk seemed sturdy enough, until it started making groaning noises half way along.

After scaring himself silly on the catwalks, Richard headed to the bottom of the tower and discovered an exit out into the courtyard... just as Stacy walked up. She had had enough of sitting up on the wall and had come down to find him and was quite successful. As the exploration of Yedikule wrapped up, we took a look at the ruins of the mosque... the tall brick tower on the ruin was not a smoke stack or a chimney, but a minaret. 

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Just the fountain (for washing feet, hands and face before entering) and the minaret of the mosque remain.    Looking into the opening of the minaret reveals stone steps for the muezzin to climb to make prayer calls.
Click to see a larger version...   The sheep of Yedikule, tied to trees in the middle of the field. Yes, there's two of them, one is sitting in the brush beside the tree.

The ruin of Yedikule is off the beaten path a bit, which is a shame... its well worth the exploration. But it has fallen into disrepair, largely from neglect. 

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