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Land Walls from Topkapi to Ayvansaray

Land Walls from Topkapi to Ayvansaray
This great stretch of walls along the Golden Horn attracts fewer visitors than the walls on the southern stretch although this part of the city was once where 13th century Byzantine emperors retired to their new palace at Blachernae.

Tekfur Palace

This is also where the famous 18th century pottery was established and made what is known as Tekfur Palace tiles and ceramics. The far north section of land walls beyond Tekfur Palace were rebuilt between the 7th and 12th centuries and it is not obvious what the exact route the earlier walls were taking.

Construction of Walls

The walls immediately beyond the Tekfur Palace were rebuilt when Manuel Comnenos
reigned from 1143-1180 and has 9 towers and a gate. The stretch of wall that follows from there appears to have been put together during the reigns of Issac II Angelos (1185-1195), Andronicos II Paleologos (1282-1328) and John VIII Paleologos (1445-1448). The walls that run from Blachernae Palace down to the Golden Horn were rebuilt in two stages; first the inner wall, as a defence against the Avars and Persians, by Emperor Heraclius in 627 and second, the outer wall, as protection against the Bulgars by Emperor Leo V in 813.

Churches inside the Istanbul City Walls

Istanbul has a total of 96 Greek Orthodox churches, one is owned privately, twelve are in cemeteries, ten are attached to monasteries, and seven represent other churches that are recognised by law.  Fifty three of them were constructed before the Tanzımat Act and forty two were built immediately after it.  St. Mary of the Mongols church is the only one that has survived unchanged since the Byzantine era.

Inside the walls from Topkapi to Ayvansaray, there are two 19th century churches; one is Armenian and dedicated to Surp Nikoğos dating back to 1620, although the church you see today was rebuilt in 1831, and the Greek Orthodox church dedicated to Hagios Nikolaos also rebuilt in 1831 but originates from 16th century.

Emin Baba Tekke

Crossing the road from Edirnekapı you will find the Emin Baba Tekke that was originally constructed for the Islamic Bektaşı sect.  It was almost completely rebuilt in 1997 although it had earlier undergone extensive repairs by order of Pertevniyal Valide Sultan who was the mother of Sultan Abdülaziz.  There are some very unusual grey memorial pillar/columns in the graveyard behind the building.

Gazi Ahmed Pasa Mosque

Inside the walls is the Gazi (Kara) Ahmed Pasa Mosque, another superb design by  Mimar Sinan , built for this Grand Vizier to  Suleyman the Magnificent and dates back to 1554. It has some excellent late period  Iznik tiles and the porticoed courtyard is a lovely peaceful place to sit and get away from this busy part of the city. 

Tomb of Gazi Ahmed Pasa

Gazi (Kara) Ahmed Pasa’s tomb is outside of the mosque on Millet Caddesi Road and a short walk from here will bring you to the small Kurkcubasi Mosque , built in the 16th century, that has an interesting porch incorporating capitals taken from old Roman columns and the minaret has a sundial, albeit scratched and somewhat faded.  

Tombs of Adnan Menderes and Turgut Ozal

Outside on Vatan Caddesi (Road) are the monumental modern tombs of Adnan Menderes (1899-1961) who was Turkey’s first democratic prime minister and was hanged after the 1960 military coup and  Turgut Ozal (1927-1993) the prime minister responsible for modernising and re-opening  Turkey to the outside world, his tomb is the one with the metal ball at the top. The river Lycus once flowed where the Vatan Caddesi (Road) is today.

Some of the other historic places worth visiting, situated inside the Istanbul Land Walls are:
Cannon or Topkapi Gate
Gate of Wooden Circus
Crooked Gate or Egrikapi
Takkeci Ibrahim Aga Mosque
Ivaz Efendi Mosque
Blachernae Palace
Dungeon of Anemas
Blachernae Ayazma

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