Istanbul’s first city walls were built to protect the acropolis, located where the Topkapi Palace stands today. In 203 CE, the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus erected the second set of walls, situated 300 meters outside the original Greek walls. Over the course of many centuries, the walls were reinforced and extended. The most impressive walls date back to the Byzantine Empire, constructed by Emperor Theodosius II between 413 and 415. Measuring 6.5 km in length and reaching heights of 12-19 meters, they were considered impenetrable for centuries.


Today, the remains of the old city walls still stand—a reminder of the past—amidst the hustle and bustle of the bustling city of Istanbul. They stretch for 22 kilometers, from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn, and have only been destroyed twice in their long history. The first destruction was wrought by the Latin Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land in 1204, and the second by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 as they attempted to conquer the city of Constantinople. These centuries-old walls remain as a testament to the past amid the lively commotion of Istanbul today.

Once upon a time, Constantinople (Istanbul) was surrounded by walls due to its geopolitical importance and its beauty. Every state strove to take possession of this dreamlike city, and the people of Constantinople took measures to protect it by building walls around it.

At the outset, the city walls served as a defensive measure to ward off attacks from other nations. Spanning approximately six kilometers and featuring 27 towers, they were a formidable obstacle. Subsequently, in 203, Emperor Septimius Severus established a second set of walls located roughly 300 meters outside the existing ones. Finally, in 324 AD, Constantine the Great ordered the construction of a new city to serve as the Eastern capital. Its walls were built approximately six kilometers further to the west.

The Emperor Theodosius II built the walls, now known as the Theodosian Walls, between 412 and 413 A.D. The walls consisted of three parts: a main wall, a lower front wall, and a moat or trench which could be filled with water.

In 447 A.D., however, the walls were severely damaged by an earthquake. Attila the Hun then invaded and conquered Byzantine cities in the Balkan areas, even going so far as to reach the walls of Constantinople; yet, due to the lack of suitable weaponry to attack walls of that size, he was unsuccessful. In light of this, the frightened Byzantines quickly repaired the damaged walls in 448 A.D., during which time the emperor also built a sea wall.

Those sea walls managed to keep away many enemies; for example, in 672 and 673 the Arabs attacked them but were unsuccessful due to the Byzantines’ advanced technique, known as Greek Fire, which involved shooting a burning liquid at the enemy. The Muslims, including the Arabs, wanted to take over the city by breaking the walls, and the companion of the Prophet Mohammed, Eyüp Sultan, died and was buried outside the walls. Additionally, it was ordered in the hadith to take over the city. As it can be seen, many people attempted to take the city but failed. Finally, the great Ottoman Empire’s Fatih Sultan Mehmet succeeded in conquering it by breaking the walls with weapons.

Fatih Sultan Mehmed renovated and reinforced the city walls to protect against any potential attacks. He added three towers to the existing four at the Golden Gate, forming the “Yedikule” or Seven Towers in Turkish. Today, when you visit Istanbul, you can still see the remains of this fascinating fortification.


Nowadays, the walls of Istanbul still remain, and many people come to visit from around the world. It is definitely a must-see for anyone interested in the ancient history of Istanbul, as it serves as a reminder of the city’s tumultuous past. When visiting the walls, you can wander around the remains of the towers and the moats, and imagine the moment when the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople.

You can also take a guided tour with a knowledgeable professional, which is a great way to learn even more about the city walls and the history of Istanbul. Aside from the walls, Istanbul is full of other historical and cultural attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Istanbul is also renowned for its vibrant nightlife and eclectic selection of restaurants, making it the perfect place for a vacation.

At Tour Maker Turkey, we offer a variety of guided tours to explore the famous city walls of Istanbul. Our experienced guides will help you uncover the secrets of the city’s past and show you the most iconic sights. We also offer custom tours that are tailored to your individual needs and interests.

So, if you want to experience the timeless beauty of Istanbul, contact us today and let us design the perfect tour for you!