- Kule Meydanı 4 Fatih
- 212 584 4012
- admission TL5, camera TL5
Lonely Planet review for Yedikule Zindanlari
If you arrived in İstanbul by train from Europe, or if you rode in from the airport along the seashore, you will probably have noticed this fortress looming over the southern approaches to the city. One of the city’s major landmarks, it has a history as substantial as its massive structure. In the late 4th century Theodosius the Great built a triumphal arch here. When the next Theodosius built his massive land walls, he incorporated the arch in the structure. Four of the fortress’ seven towers were built as part of Theodosius II’s walls; the other three, which are inside the walls, were added by Mehmet the Conqueror. Under the Byzantines, the great arch became known as the Porta Aurea (Golden Gate) and was used for triumphal state processions into and out of the city. For a time its gates were indeed plated with gold. The doorway was sealed in the late Byzantine period. In Ottoman times the fortress was used for defence, as a repository for the Imperial Treasury, as a prison and as a place of execution. In times of war, ambassadors of ‘enemy’ countries were thrown in prisons; foreign ambassadors to the Sublime Porte often ended up incarcerated in Yedikule. Latin and German inscriptions still visible in the Ambassadors’ Tower bring the place’s eerie history to light. It was also here that Sultan Osman II, a 17-year-old youth, was executed in 1622 during a revolt of the janissary corps. The kaftan he was wearing when he was murdered is now on display in Topkapı Palace’s costumes collection. The spectacular views from the battlements are the highlight of a visit here. Note that the lack of handrails or barriers on the steep stone staircases can be offputting for some visitors. While you’re in the neighbourhood, consider a trip to İstanbul’s best kebapçı, Develi, one station east at Mustafa Paşa. You can also walk along the historic land walls all the way to the Golden Horn from here.