Friday, June 17, 2011

We climbed up rocks more than 550 years old to see a magnificent view over the Bosphorus.

It’s probably one of the cheapest ways to see view like this without going to a rooftop bar or restaurant.
Jason with his mom inside the fortress's walls.
Rumeli Hisarı (Rumeli Fortress) is a bit off the beaten track for most tourists if you are pressed for time in Istanbul. Oh sure, you will catch a glimpse of it when you take a Bosphorus boat cruise.
The fortress as seen from a 2-hour Bosphorus boat cruise, which we did two days later.
However, the best way to see it is to climb up its ancient stone walls. There are no handrails - anywhere - so if you have any fear of heights, this is not the place for you. Also, wear a pair of athletic shoes - not high-heels like we saw saw women wearing! You definitely get a bit of a workout with all the steps.
I loved the view, but was hot and tired after climbing up so many steps!
Located at the narrowest part of the Bosphorus on the European side, the fortress was built in only four short months in 1452 upon the order by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. He wanted to control the sea traffic in preparation for what was to be the seventh and final Ottoman siege of Constantinople. In concert with the Anadolu Hisarı, which was built by his great-grandfather on the Asian side, the Sultan controlled all the water traffic and cut the city off from supplies from the north in the Black Sea.

The mighty fortress's useful military life was less than one year. Mehmet’s army conquered the Byzantine capital several months later, and then there was no need for Rumeli Hisarı. Later, the fortress was used as a large Bosphorus toll booth, then as a barracks, later as a prison, and finally as an open-air theater, but never again as a fortress.
Several old military cannons can be seen when you walk in the gates.
You can see the old theater area here.
Jason and I took his parents to the fortress one of the first days they arrived. We hadn’t been here yet and saved the venture for them. The fortress has five main gates, several large towers, and 15 smaller towers.

The Sunday late morning was quiet for awhile and we enjoyed the sights until a busload of high school-age students appeared. Then, the area was a bit overcrowded and noisy and by that time we were hungry.
Wildflowers were growing out of the walls in several locations.
After our climbing adventure, we headed across the street to Rumeli Hisarı Iskele Restaurant to grab some mezes and cool drinks. (We had walked by this place in April when we went to see the tulips at Emirgan Park.) The restaurant has wonderful outdoor seaside seating but is a little expensive. We had eaten breakfast at home earlier, so we just ordered several mezes, two beers and two glasses of white wine. The bill was reasonable for those items, considering where we were located.
Ahtapot salatası, fresh mussels stuffed with rice and yogurt.
Gümüş tava - a type of fried fish similar to hamsi
We were all happy just to sit, relax and enjoy the views along the Bosphorus. If you have time, I definitely would recommend stopping at the Rumeli Hisarı.

Admission: 3TL
Closed Mondays
Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays
Tip: take an otobus or taxi here

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Julia said...

Yes, we're the people who have only viewed the castle from the Bosphorus cruise. :) Hopefully, next time we're in Istanbul, we'll have time to explore that area a bit more. Too much to see in too little time.

Sue Narayan said...

Love having a castle in my neighborhood -- you've described it well!

DAD said...

Looks great! Friends of ours visited it last year and said it was their favorite part of Istanbul. We'll have to go next time we are in the city. Thanks for the details.

Joy said...

Of course, Sultanahmet has the main sites, but there's so much history everywhere in this city. =)