Trip to Yedikule...
May 27, 2007
We met Bob at his house in Kocamustafapasa neighborhood for the walk down to the sea and up along the old Byzantine city walls. In an earlier blog entry, Ted and I explored the walls on the Golden Horn end. We had always passed parts of the wall on the taxi ride from the airport and really wanted to check them out. This is a photo of my favorite part of the wall, at one corner right at the sea.
We did not climb around there because there are people living in it. Bob says it's not safe to mess around inside the walls or climb up them. We listen to Bob, he knows alot of stuff. We crossed Kennedy Caddesi to the park which is at the beginning of the wall's march into the city. At first, we went up the inside, not through the park.
There are doors like this at the base of every tower, and there are towers every 50 meters or so. We did not go in. It is not safe. So we walked up the road inside the walls. It was not safe. There was nothing on this road for awhile, just a field on one side and the walls on the other. A couple blocks up, we spotted a pack of big dogs by the side of the road. There were about 6 of them. They barked at us, but we picked up rocks and kept walking. One at a time, they ran off. Soon, we found the city dog pound. There were lots of dogs inside, and over a dozen living outside of it. They looked pretty well fed. The Turks love cats and dogs and feed even the feral ones that run around the city. The dogs tend to be skittish, though. A friendly old guy with one tooth came out and we asked him some questions about the walls and the dogs and some other things we saw around. He gave me some daisies and we pet some of the dogs and turned back to the beginning of the walls to continue through the park like good, sensible tourists.
We followed the walls till the road lead back inside the walls. We decided this was safe enough, though the gate was only wide enough for a single vehicle and everyone was trying to squeeze through at once. We turned right and saw Yedikule castle. It's huge. Here's a photo from google maps....
There is a stage in front of the Golden Gate now, where concerts are held. The gate was once used by Byzantine Emperors as they left or returned from campaigns.
Here is a view of it from on top the wall...
The size has been reduced since the Ottomans took over and added the fortress walls. Here is all that's left of the fantastic Golden Gate...
The round towers were added later by the Ottomans to make the 5 sided shape you see now. We went into a few of the towers. (oh, this part is safe, it's a regular tourist attraction and 5 lira to get in) The towers were all different inside. It was so cool. We had the place to ourselves and I felt like a kid as we clambered around the place. The first tower had a scary well and you could see the timbers that made up the floors above, but the floors themselves were gone. We explored all the rooms there and eventually got to the top where the view was great, but also scary.
Then, there was another tower where the inside was mostly empty. you could see the holes for the missing floor timbers, but no floors. Bob went in from the top and we went in from the bottom.
Here, you see Bob in a high window. There is a staircase that winds upwards, but sometimes there isn't and you have to go to the
next door on the catwalk. Scary. Tourist attractions like this would not be legal in the U.S. but we loved it.
After lunch we went along the walls awhile. We looked as we went for the new hockey rink which is supposed to open in 3 months
right around there. We did not find it. We did find lots of other interesting things, though. The walls go on forever, punctuated by
more towers. Some of them were restored, some crumbling, the rest, somewhere in between. In the ones that were falling apart,
we could see the structure of the inside without crawling around in them.
There was a smaller wall outside the large ones and there was alot of gardening there. Actually, these were farms, but some of the
farms seemed to be run by families that were living in the walls.
We walked back past the castle to the train station. We finally got to take a train into Sirkeci, which is the station where the Orient
Express would end up. I can't believe they painted it pink.
It was a rather old train and the boys would pry the doors open and hang out as it went.It was a good day.