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Fatih,Istanbul (The photo was taken in 1993)

Byzantine Era

Historic Byzantine districts encompassed by present-day Fatih include: Exokiónion, Aurelianae, Xerólophos, ta Eleuthérou, Helenianae, ta Dalmatoú, Sígma, Psamátheia, ta Katakalón, Paradeísion, ta Olympíou, ta Kýrou, Peghé, Rhéghion, ta Elebíchou, Leomákellon, ta Dexiokrátous, Petríon or Pétra, Phanàrion, Exi Mármara (Altimermer), Philopátion, Deúteron and Vlachernaí.

Ottoman period The name "Fatih" comes from the Ottoman emperor Fatih Sultan Mehmed (Mehmed the Conqueror), and means "Conqueror" in Turkish, originally from Arabic. The Fatih Mosque built by Mehmed II is in this district, while his resting place is next to the mosque and is much visited. It was on the ruins of the Church of the Holy Apostles, destroyed by earthquakes and years of war, that the Fatih Mosque was built, and around the mosque a large prayer school.

Immediately after the conquest, groups of Islamic scholars transformed the major churches of Hagia Sophia and the Pantocrator (today the Zeyrek Mosque) into mosques, but the Fatih Mosque and its surrounding complex was the first purpose-built Islamic seminary within the city walls. The building of the mosque complex ensured that the area continued to thrive beyond the conquest; markets grew up to support the thousands of workers involved in the building and to supply them with materials, and then to service the students in the seminary. The area quickly became a Turkish neighbourhood with a particularly pious character due to the seminary. Some of this piety has endured until today.

Following the conquest, the Edirnekapı (meaning Edirne Gate) gate in the city walls became the major exit to Thrace, and this rejuvenated the neighbourhoods overlooking the Golden Horn. The Fatih Mosque was on the road to Edirnekapı and the Fatih district became the most populous area of the city in the early Ottoman period and in the 16th century more mosques and markets were built in this area, including: Iskender Pasha Mosque, once famous as a centre for the Naqshbandi order in Turkey); Hirka-i-Sharif Mosque, which houses the cloak of the Prophet Muhammad (The Mosque is in common use but the cloak is only on show during the month of Ramadan; the Jerrahi Tekke; The Sunbul Efendi Tekke and the Ramazan Efendi Tekke both in the Kocamustafapaşa district and the Vefa Kilise Mosque, originally a Byzantine church. The last four were named after the founders of various Sufi orders, and Sheikh Ebü’l Vefa in particular was of major importance in the city and was very fond of Fatih. Many other mosques, schools, baths and fountains in the area were built by military leaders and officials in the Ottoman court.

From the 18th century onwards Istanbul started to grow outside the walls, and then began the transformation of Fatih into the mass of concrete apartment buildings that we have today. This process has been accelerated over the years by fires which destroyed whole neighbourhoods of wooden houses, and a major earthquake in 1766, which destroyed the Fatih Mosque and many of the surrounding buildings, (which were subsequently rebuilt). Fires continued to ravage the old city, and the wide roads that run through the area today are a legacy of all that burning. There are few wooden buildings left in Fatih today, although right up until the 1960s the area was covered with narrow streets of wooden buildings. Nowadays, the district is largely made up of narrow streets with tightly-packed 5- or 6-floor apartment buildings. Golden Horn Wall

The wall facing towards the Golden Horn, where in later times most seaborne traffic was conducted, stretched for a total length of 5,600 metres from the cape of St. Demetrius to the Blachernae, where it adjoined the Land Walls. Although most of the wall was demolished in the 1870s, during the construction of the railway line, its course and the position of most gates and towers is known with accuracy. It was built further inland from the shore, and was about 10 metres tall. According to Cristoforo Buondelmonti it featured 14 gates and 110 towers,although 16 gates are known that are of Byzantine origin.The northern shore of the city was always its more cosmopolitan part: a major focal point of commerce, it also contained the quarters allocated to foreigners living in the imperial capital. Muslim traders had their own lodgings (mitaton) there, including a mosque, while from the time of Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1118) on, the emperors granted to the various Italian maritime republics extensive trading quarters which included their own wharfs (skalai) beyond the sea walls.

The known gates of the Golden Horn wall may be traced in order from the Blachernae eastwards to the Seraglio Point, as follows:

The first gate, very near the land walls, was the Koiliomene Gate (Κοιλιωμένη Πόρτα, Koiliōmēnē Porta, "Rolled Gate"), in Turkish Küçük Ayvansaray Kapısı.Shortly after stood the Gate of St. Anastasia (Πύλη τῆς ἁγίας Ἀναστασίας, Pylē tēs hagias Anastasias), located near the Atik Mustafa Pasha Mosque, hence in Turkish Atik Mustafa Paşa Kapısı. In close proximity on the outer side of the walls lay the Church of St. Nicholas Kanabos, which in 1597–1601 served as the cathedral of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Further down the coast was the gate known in Turkish as Balat Kapı ("Palace Gate"), preceded in close order by three large archways, which served either as gates to the shore or to a harbour that serviced the imperial palace of Blachernae. Two gates are known to have existed in the vicinity in Byzantine times: the Kynegos Gate (Πύλη τοῦ Κυνηγοῦ/τῶν Κυνηγῶν, Pylē tou Kynēgou/tōn Kynēgōn, "Gate of the Hunter(s)"), whence the quarter behind it was named Kynegion, and the Gate of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist (Πόρτα τοῦ ἁγίου Προδρόμου και Βαπτιστοῦ, Porta tou hagiou Prodromou kai Baptistou), though it is not clear whether the latter was distinct from the Kynegos Gate. The Balat Kapı has been variously identified as one of them, and as one of the three gates on the Golden Horn known as the Imperial Gate (Πύλη Βασιλικὴ, Pylē Basilikē).

Further south was the Gate of the Phanarion (Πύλη τοῦ Φαναρίου, Pylē tou Phanariou), Turkish Fener Kapısı, named after the local light-tower (phanarion in Greek), which also gave its name to the local suburb.The gate also marked the western entrance of the Petrion Fort (κάστρον τῶν Πετρίων, kastron tōn Petriōn), formed by a double stretch of walls between the Gate of the Phanarion and the Petrion Gate (Πύλη τοῦ Πετρίου, Pylē tou Petriou), in Turkish Petri Kapısı.According to Byzantine tradition, the area was named thus after Peter the Patrician, a leading minister of Justinian I (r. 527–565). A small gate of the western end of the fort's inner wall, near the Phanarion Gate, led to the city, and was called the Gate of Diplophanarion. It was at the Petrion Gate that the Venetians, under the personal leadership of Doge Enrico Dandolo, scaled the walls and entered the city in the 1204 sack. In the 1453 siege however, an Ottoman attack on the same place was repelled.

The next gate, Yeni Ayakapı ("New Gate of the Saint"), is not Byzantine, unless it replaces an earlier Byzantine entrance.It was constructed by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan in 1582.[citation needed] Shortly after it lies the older Ayakapı ("Gate of the Saint"), known in Greek as the St. Theodosia Gate (Πύλη τῆς Ἁγίας Θεοδοσίας) after the great earby church of St. Theodosia (formerly identified with the Gül Mosque).The next gate is that of Eis Pegas (Πύλη εἰς Πηγάς, Pylē eis Pēgas), known by Latin chroniclers as Porta Puteae or Porta del Pozzo, modern Cibali Kapısı. It was named so because it looked towards the quarter of Pegae (Πηγαὶ, Pēgai, "springs") on the other shore of the Golden Horn.Next was the now-demolished Gate of the Platea (Πόρτα τῆς Πλατέας, Porta tēs Plateas) follows, rendered as Porta della Piazza by Italian chroniclers, and called in Turkish Unkapanı Kapısı ("Gate of the Flour Depot"). It was named after the local quarter of Plate[i]a ("broad place", signifying the broad shoreline at this place).The next gate, Ayazma Kapısı ("Gate of the Holy Well"), is in all probability an Ottoman-era structure.

The next gate is the Gate of the Drungaries (Πύλη τῶν Δρουγγαρίων, Pylē tōn Droungariōn), modern Odunkapısı ("Wood Gate"). Its Byzantine name derives from the high official known as the Drungary of the Watch. It marked the western end of the Venetian quarter.It is followed by the Gate the Forerunner, known as St. John de Cornibus by the Latins, named after a nearby chapel. In Turkish it is known as Zindan Kapısı ("Dungeon Gate").The destroyed Gate of the Perama (Πόρτα τοῦ Περάματος, Porta tou Peramatos) lay in the suburb of Perama ("Crossing"), from which the ferry to Pera (Galata) sailed. It marked the eastern limit of the Venetian quarter of the city, and the beginning of the Amalfitan quarter to its east. In Buondelmonti's map, it is labelled Porta Piscaria, on account of the fishmarket that used to be held there, a name that has been preserved in its modern Turkish appellation, Balıkpazarı Kapısı, "Gate of the Fish-market".This gate is also identified with the Gate of the Jews (Ἑβραϊκὴ Πόρτα, Hebraïkē Porta), Porta Hebraica in Latin sources, although the same name was apparently applied over time to other gates as well.In its vicinity was probably also the Gate of St. Mark, which is recorded in a single Venetian document of 1229. Its identity is unclear, as is the question whether the gate, conspicuously named in honour of the patron saint of Venice, was pre-existing or opened after the fall of the city to the Crusaders in 1204.

To the east of the Perama Gate was the Hikanatissa Gate (Πόρτα τῆς Ἱκανατίσσης, Porta tēs Hikanatissēs), a name perhaps derived from the imperial tagma of the Hikanatoi. The gate marked the eastern end of the Amalfitan quarter of the city and the western edge of the Pisan quarter.Further east lay the Gate of the Neorion (Πόρτα τοῦ Νεωρίου, Porta tou Neōriou), recorded as the Horaia Gate (Πύλη Ὡραία, Pylē Horaia, "Beautiful Gate") in late Byzantine and Ottoman times. As its names testifies, it led to the leading to the Neorion, the main harbour of ancient Byzantium and the oldest naval arsenal of the city.In the early Ottoman period, it was known in Turkish as the Çıfıtkapı ("Hebrew Gate"), but its modern name is Bahçekapı ("Garden Gate"). The eastern limit of the Pisan quarter was located a bit eastwards of the gate.

The 12th-century Genoese quarter of the city extended from there to the east, and in the documents conferring privileges on them one finds mention of two gates: the Porta Bonu ("Gate of Bonus", probably transcribed from Greek Πόρτα Bώνου), and the Porta Veteris Rectoris ("Gate of the old rector"). It is very likely that these two names refer to the same gate, probably named after an otherwise unknown rector Bonus, and located somewhere in the modern Sirkeci district.Finally, the last gate of the Golden Horn wall was the Gate of Eugenius (Πόρτα τοῦ Ἐυγενίου, Porta tou Eugeniou), leading to the Prosphorion harbour. In close proximity was the 4th-century Tower of Eugenius or Kentenarion, where the great chain that closed the entrance to the Golden Horn was kept and suspended from. The gate was also called Marmaroporta (Μαρμαροπόρτα, "Marble Gate"), because it was covered in marble, and featured a statue of the Emperor Julian. It is usually identified with the Ottoman Yalıköşk Kapısı, and was destroyed in 1871.(Wikipedia)

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on May 11, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Giorgos Dimitriadis
    • Camera: FUJI PHOTO FILM CO., LTD. SP-2000