Roumeli Hissar Castle

Rumeli Hisarı

Name of Roumeli Hissar Castle, that is located on the shore of Bosphorus, is translated from Turkish as "the one who cuts the throat". Indeed there is something behind that name. The fortress was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II on a hill at the European side of Bosphorus between 1451 and 1452 before his attempts to conquer Constantinople. Just opposite Roumeli Hissar Castle there had already been Anatolian Castle that dated back to the 14th century. Thus at the narrowest point of the Bosphorus strait it was achieved to control all the ships traffic. A battalion of 400 Janissaries were stationed in the fortress, and large cannons were placed in the tall towers of the fortress. Cannons could reach any ship in the strait and left no chances to opponents. A passage way for ships of Byzantine allies that were earlier delivering provisions through Danube and further along the Black Sea to Constantinople was closed. A Venetian ship coming from the Black Sea which ignored the order to halt by the commander of the fortress, was bombarded and sunk, and its surviving crewmen were beheaded as a warning to any who might attempt the same.

Sultan Mehmed II personally supervised construction of Roumeli Hissar. With the help of thousands of masons and workers, the fortress was completed in a record time of 4 months and 16 days. The three great towers were named after three of Mehmed II's viziers, Sadrazam Çandarlı Halil Pasha, who built the tower next to the gate, Zağanos Pasha, who built the south tower, and Sarıca Pasha, who built the big and most powerful north tower. Architecture of the fortress included 13 small watchtowers. Total area comprised 30 thousand square meters. Inside the fortress there was powder depot, weaponry and wooden houses for soldiers. Water was supplied to the fortress from a large cistern underneath the mosque and distributed through three wall-fountains, of which one has remained.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, fortress was turned into the customs checkpoint. Gradually Roumeli Hissar was loosing its strategic importance, and the earthquake of 1509 destroyed some of the structures and walls. In the 17th century the fortress was reequipped into prison. In the middle of the 20th century extensive restoration works were performed. Since 1960 Roumeli Hissar has been a museum and an open-air theatre for various concerts at festivals during the summer months.

Address: Yenidoğan Mh., Yahya Kemal Cаd. 42
Opening hours: Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun 9.30 am – 4.30 pm, Wed closed
Coordinates: 41.08479, 29.056139