Roman Heritage of Outer Constantinople, Istanbul

Istanbul, known as Constantinople in the Middle Ages, was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for over a millennium. Although conquered by the Ottomans in 15th century, the city still preserves many signs of its imperial Roman past that reflect the might and splendor of this long vanished empire.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Roman Heritage of Outer Constantinople Map

Guide Name: Roman Heritage of Outer Constantinople
Guide Location: Turkey » Istanbul (See other walking tours in Istanbul)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Author: kane
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Theodosian Wall of Constantinople

1) Theodosian Wall of Constantinople

The Theodosian Wall, stood firm for over 11 centuries and was breached by enemy assault only once, and that marked the end of the Byzantine Empire. The medieval fortification is comprised of an outer wall, a moat, an inner wall, and over 78 battle towers.
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Gate of Charisius

2) Gate of Charisius

Gate of Charisius is also known as Adrianople gate as it led into the city. It was exactly through this gate that the first Sultan of the Ottoman empire entered the city of Constantinople, in triumph. The gate is located at the highest of the seven hills and is the second most important gate after the Golden Gate. This is also the place from where the defense of the city was mounted by the last Byzantine Emperor.
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Chora Church / Kariye Museum

3) Chora Church / Kariye Museum (must see)

Also known as the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, this is one of the most relevant surviving examples of an original Byzantine church.

The Chora Church is located to the south of the Golden Horn, in the district of Fatih, in the neighborhood of Edirnekpi. The original church was built outside the walls of Constantinople, during the fourth century. The church is named so because of its location. The building consists of six domes and is divided into three main parts: the entrance hall, the church itself and the side chapel.

During the 16th century, the Chora Church was converted into a mosque by the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Sultan of that time. By order of the Sultan, many frescos and mosaics in the church’s interior were covered with plaster. In 1948, part of the church was converted into a museum, and much of the artwork, mosaics and frescos went under restoration sponsored by the Byzantine Institute of America. Today, the Chora Church (or Kariye Museum) is a popular spot for tourists who wish to study Byzantine architecture in detail.

Why You Should Visit:
While certainly smaller than Hagia Sophia, Chora is nonetheless no less majestic or magical thanks to its more complete mosaic collection.

Tip:
Spend a little extra on the audio guide as it makes the tour much more exciting and informative.
In the square, you'll find a shop with good quality ceramics at a better price than in other areas of Istanbul.

Opening Hours:
Thu-Tue: 9am-7pm, last admission: 6pm (Apr-Oct); 9am-5pm, last admission: 4:30pm (Nov-Mar)
Closed on Wednesdays
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Palace of the Porphyrogenitus

4) Palace of the Porphyrogenitus

The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus is also called the Tekfur Sarayı which translates to "Palace of the Sovereign" from the Turkish language. This is a thirteenth century Byzantine Palace located in the North West part of Istanbul. This palace is actually an annex of the great palace complex of Blachernae, and today, it is one of the only intact examples of Byzantine architecture in the world.

Constructed during the twelfth or the thirteenth century, the palace was built as a part of the Palace complex of Blachernae by Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos for his son Constantine Palaiologos. Most visitors mistake it to be built for the emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. The term "Porphyrogenitus" means “Born to the Purple” which indicates that the child has been born to a ruling Emperor. The Porphyrogenitus palace served as an Imperial Residence of Emperors until the final days of the Byzantine Empire.

The Palace was located at the North corner of the Theodosian Walls, and it was a three story building. It suffered extensive damage caused by the invading Ottomans and also by earthquakes. Today the courtyard is present which is overlooked by 5 large windows. The remnant of a balcony is also present on the East.
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Church of St. Mary of Blachernae

5) Church of St. Mary of Blachernae

The church of St. Mary of Blachernae is an Eastern Orthodox Church, located in the Fatih district in the neighborhood of Ayvansaray. It is just a short walk from the Golden Horn, and the complex consisting of the church itself and a garden, is protected by a high wall. The church was built in 1867 and dedicated to St. Mary of Blachernae, whose shrine was erected here in the fifth century by Empress Aelia Pulcheria and her husband Emperor Marcian. The shrine was destroyed in 1434, and until its destruction, it was a very important Greek Orthodoxy sanctuary.

The church complex contains two other buildings aside from the Church itself, which are the Sacred Bath and the Chapel of the Reliquary. These were erected by Emperor Leo I, and the Holy Reliquary hosts the holy mantle and the robe of the Virgin, that have been recovered from Palestine in the year 473. The Sacred Bath encloses a fountain.

The Church is constructed in the fashion of a Basilica, with three aisles and two colonnades. A dome was also built on the Church structure by Justinian. The original mosaics have been replaced by images of flora and fauna, but the church is still visited today by tourists due to its historic significance.
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Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

6) Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is also known as the Rum Ortodoks Patrikhanesi, which translates to the "Roman Orthodox Patriarchate" from the Turkish language. This is part of the wider Orthodox Church and headed by Bartholomew I the current Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. This is also one of the 14 autocephalous churches that are within the communion of Orthodox Christianity. Its location at the former capital of the Byzantine Empire, now Istanbul, makes it enjoy the status of the "first among equals" amongst the entire world's Eastern Orthodox churches.

The current church was built in the year 1720 on a Basilica plan, and is topped by a timber roof. Unlike other churches that have been built during the Byzantine times, this church lacks the grandeur of its station. This was because of the Ottoman rule prohibiting non-Muslims places of worship to bear domes or other forms of masonry on the roof. The Patriarchal Throne is said to date back to St. John Chrysostom Patriarchate in the fifth century, and his relics along with those of St. Euphemia, St. Solomone and St. Theophano, the female saints are present there. Three gold mosaic icons and the Columns of Flagellation are also present in the church.
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The Church of the Holy Apostles

7) The Church of the Holy Apostles

The Church of the Holy Apostles present in Istanbul was at one time, one of the most important churches in Christendom. Even though the church no longer survives, its site is worth a visit for its great historical significance.

The church was originally built by Constantine the Great and later, it was also rebuilt by Emperor Justinian I. It was the burial place of great Byzantine Emperors and also the Patriarchs of Constantinople from the fourth century to the eleventh century. The relics of Saints Luke, Andrews, Timothy, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom were housed in the church, but unfortunately it was plundered during the Crusades and most of the relics were lost. A severe earthquake also toppled the great church, and during the Ottoman rule, the Fatih Mosque (Conquerors Mosque) was built over the site of the church.

Today, the remains of the church can be seen at the site of the Fatih Mosque, and some of the material has been reused in the construction of the mosque. Some column pieces and stone blocks have also been identified in the courtyard of the mosque as originally belonging to the Church of the Holy Apostles.
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Valens Aqueduct

8) Valens Aqueduct

The Valens Aqueduct is called Bozdoğan Kemeri, in the Turkish language, which means "Aqueduct of the grey falcon". This is a Roman aqueduct which provided most of the water of the capital of the Eastern Roman empire, Constantinople, and now Istanbul. The aqueduct was completed by Roman Emperor Valens in the fourth century AD and it was restored several times by Ottoman Sultans.

The aqueduct is located in the district of Fatih, and is present between the hills that are occupied by the Fatih Mosque and the Istanbul University. The Atatürk Bulvarı Boulevard passes beneath its arches. The Roman Emperor Hadrian had constructed the aqueduct for the city of Istanbul, which was called Byzantium in those days, and it was originally much smaller in size. The city was rebuilt under Emperor Constantine I, and it was greatly expanded to meet the growing city’s needs.

The length of the Aqueduct of Valens is approximately 971 meters and it reaches a height if 29 meters. The masonry used is a combination of bricks and ashlar blocks. The water from the aqueduct comes from 2 lines, which are the North West line and the North East line, the water is then diverted to a distribution plant near the Hagia Sofia. The Imperial Palace is supplied by the aqueduct.

Walking Tours in Istanbul, Turkey

Create Your Own Walk in Istanbul

Create Your Own Walk in Istanbul

Creating your own self-guided walk in Istanbul is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Walking the Bosphorus Coast

Walking the Bosphorus Coast

What Istanbul is today and what it was in medieval times is due to the geographical location of the city and the fact that it lies on the Bosphorus shore. This tour will take you along the coast so that you can enjoy the beautiful view and admire the city's architecture.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.7 km
Churches Walking Tour

Churches Walking Tour

Constantinople was a center for religion and the orthodox Christianity for over a millennium and even after the Ottomans came many Christians remained in the city. There are many churches in Istanbul and each of them has its uniqueness.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 km
Shopping Tour of Istanbul

Shopping Tour of Istanbul

Istanbul can easily claim to be one of the most interesting cities in the world. Located on the very edge of Europe, it later expanded into Asia resulting in a mixture of both cultures. When it comes to shopping you will be amazed by the variety of goods you can buy here and the way everybody bargains - even in the grocery store. Take this tour and explore the legendary bazaars and the hidden shops of Istanbul.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Architectural Walking Tour

Architectural Walking Tour

Istanbul can offer its visitors quite an unforgettable experience when it comes to architecture. Here you can admire both the architectural achievements of the long vanished Eastern Roman Empire and its influence and the traditional Ottoman-Arabic style. Take this tour to see some of the best examples these architectural styles.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km
Roman Heritage Walking Tour II

Roman Heritage Walking Tour II

Constantinople was an imperial capital for over a millennium and still contains many sites that demonstrate the importance and greatness of the Eastern Roman Empire. This tour will take you trough the most famous of them, located in the inner city of Constantinople.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

Istanbul, throughout its history as Byzantium and Constantinople, has been a center of commerce and trade- a place to buy all kinds of exotic items. Today’s modern traveler in Istanbul also enjoys an interesting and colorful shopping experience. The sheer number of shops, bazaars, products, prices and insistent shopkeepers, however, can be overwhelming. To focus your search and improve your shopping experience in Istanbul, here is a list of suggested gift items that reflect true Turkish culture along with where they can be bought and their price ranges.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


Istanbul Shopping Guide: 16 Turkish Items To Bring Home

Istanbul Shopping Guide: 16 Turkish Items To Bring Home

Istanbul, known throughout history as Byzantium and Constantinople, has been a major center of commerce and trade, a place where merchants and general folk would rush to regularly in search of exotic things. In our days, modern travelers to Istanbul are also bound to enjoy a truly magnificent...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Istanbul for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Istanbul has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money visiting Istanbul's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Istanbul Tourist Pass or Istanbul Welcome Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple Istanbul's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows user to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Istanbul hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel, Deluxe Golden Horn Sultanahmet Hotel, Great Fortune Hotel & Spa.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Istanbul, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Istanbul typically costs somewhere between US$20 and US$80 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Istanbul from the open top of a bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the two interconnecting routes (the ticket is valid for both). The ticket provides 24-, 48-, or 72-hour access, plus a free ride on Bosphorus sightseeing boat, and more.

- No visit to Istanbul is complete without savoring authentic Turkish cuisine. Embark on a 5-hour night food tour of Istanbul for a generous dollop of delectable Turkish culinary delights at the food hotspots many tourists don’t even know about.

- Get yourself lost for a while in the aromatic maze of stalls at Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar in the company of a knowledgeable guide, followed by a jaunt aboard a sightseeing boat along the Bosphorus Strait!

- Prepare for an action-packed day of sightseeing visiting Istanbul's top attractions in a single go including historic district Sultanahmet, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the dazzling Grand Bazaar and more.

- Follow an expert guide on a 3.5-hour walk around Istanbul’s must-see attractions to familiarize yourself with the city's contrasting cultures and history.

- Take an opportunity to witness centuries-old Istanbul culture in the form of whirling dervishes performing their dance-like spiritual ceremony accompanied by Persian chanting and traditional Turkish music played by live orchestra.

Day Trips


If you have a day to spare whilst in Istanbul, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Gallipoli, Ephesus, or Cappadocia. For as little as circa US$100 up to US$300+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites (rock pillars, cave villages and subterranean cities), explore World War I battlefields, see the finely-preserved ancient eastern Mediterranean city and walk the pavements once strutted by toga-clad Romans, visit what is believed to be St. Mary’s last place of dwelling, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Istanbul, and transported either by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, private vehicle or a plane (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.