If you plan on travelling to Istanbul, the historic walls of the city are worth acknowledging in order to witness some of the oldest living areas spotted by the survived fortresses.
The first known walls were built during the time of Megara city-state (later known as Byzantium), which was situated in today’s Seraglio Point in the historical peninsula. However, these first samples of the walls were demolished by the Roman emperor Septimus Severus to penalize the city’s residents only for being rebuilt in a more different architecture. In the following years, the walls had expanded through the land with the intention to create more space for the increasing population.
The walls are 15 meters long and 5 meters in width, making them a strong inhibitor against any outside invasion. Today, the historical walls are 20 kilometers long, surrounding a wide range of the old town.
The Golden Horn is one of the most historical places in Istanbul, home to the ancient walls built during the reign of Theodosius II. Unfortunately, only a small amount of remains are visible in the area today. Golden Horn was a strategic location where it served as a trade center and a dockyard. Later, the Ottomans used it as a place for different factories and ateliers.
The walls of Golden Horn are lower than those in the overland and had separate sections for shooting arrows in case of an adversary raid. You can visit the Golden Horn walls by taking different bus services from Eminönü or Taksim at any time of the day.
These walls were built later than those in the land because the Marmara Sea acted as a natural repellent against enemy attacks with strong waves and weather conditions. Today, you can see a railway passing through the remaining walls as well as an inner harbor wall for boats and vessels in Yenikapi.
You can follow the historic route from Sirkeci by taking a walk by the seashore or after a visit to the Topkapi Palace, which is closely located on the upper hill of the walls.
It would be a shame to pass the infamous gates while mentioning the walls of Istanbul. Hence, you should know about the ancient gates opening up to the old mystic town. All of these gates were named by their different purposes or features. These gates are namely Ahirkapi, Kumkapi, Yenikapi, Edirnekapi (Edirne is a city today), Topkapi (Romanos), Eğrikapi (Kaligaria), Cibalikapi, Yedikule Kapisi (Pentapirgi), Silivrikapi (Pege), Mevlanakapi (Region), Altın Kapı (Aura Porta), Belgrat Kapı (Ksilokerhos) and lastly Aya Kalinkos and Cirkoporta which are non-existent today. Although these gates are scattered all around the old town, you may visit each of them by making a whole day plan or only one or two if you just want to have an idea about how they look.