Marking the boundaries of Istanbul’s historical center, the Walls of Constantinople still stand on the Old City peninsula. Built in the fourth and fifth centuries, the defensive walls were breached in 1453 when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople. Today many sections have been restored and cut through bustling historical neighborhoods.
Strolling along and atop the Walls of Constantinople takes you through many historical Golden Horn neighborhoods, including Edirnekapi, Topkapi, and Yedikule. Historically, the walls had two layers and nine entry gates. A project to restore the walls began in the 1980s with partial financial support from UNESCO, yet even despite this, the World Monument Fund considers the walls an endangered site.
Many private and small-group city tours of the Golden Horn and Byzantine Istanbul visit the Walls of Constantinople. Often these tours also stop at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Eyup Sultan Mosque, the Chora Church (Kariye Museum), and Pierre Loti Hill.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Walls of Constantinople are a must-visit for all first-time visitors to Istanbul, especially history buffs. Kids enjoy climbing around on them, but be watchful as the walls’ steps and tops can be uneven.
- Wear comfortable shoes to explore the walls and tote drinking water.
- Most sections of the wall are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, but there is no ramp access to the top of the walls.
How to Get There
The Walls of Constantinople span much of the Old City peninsula. The easiest places to start walking along the walls are at Yedikule Fortress, which is accessible by local bus, and at Ayvansaray. There are metro stops at various points in the wall, as well.
When to Get There
The walls are pleasant to visit at all times during the day, when the vibrant surrounding neighborhoods are bustling with locals as well as visitors. Visit earlier or later in the day to avoid the hot midday sun, though note that the walls are less safe after dark.
The Gardens of the Walls
Around certain sections of the walls are historical gardens, called bostan, that historically provided fruits, vegetables, and greens to the adjacent neighborhoods. Though many of these gardens have been lost over time to development, a few are still maintained around Yedikule and other districts flanking the Walls of Constantinople.