Istanbul’s castles, towers and columns
Anadoluhisari (Anatolian Fortress)
A 14th century relic of the Ottoman's first attempt to conquer Istanbul, Anatolia Fortress is located on the Asian shore at the narrowest point of the Bosphorus. Sultan Yildirim Bayezit built this fortress in 1393 on the ruins of a Byzantine temple dedicated to Zeus. It's much smaller in size when you compare with Rumelihisar on the European side of Istanbul.
Rumelihisari (Rumeli Fortress)
Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror built Rumeli Fortress in four months only and directly opposite to Anadoluhisari in 1452 in preparation for the final attack on Constantinople (Istanbul), which led to the downfall of the Byzantine Empire. Today, the fortress hosts many concerts and dramatic performances in its amphitheatre usually during the summer months. The fort is open to the public as a museum as well (except on Wednesdays).
Galata Kulesi (Galata Tower)
A 55 meter tower providing a panoramic view of the old town, Galata Kulesi was built by the Genoese as part of the wall surrounding their district of Galata directly opposite Byzantium (Constantinopolis). It was used for the surveillance of the Harbor in the Golden Horn. After the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II it served to detect fires in the city. The tower now houses a restaurant and a night club.
Kiz Kulesi (Leander's Tower - Maiden Tower)
A 12th century stone tower erected on a rock at the entrance of the Bosphorus by Byzantine Emperor Manuel Komnenos. This tower, which has served as a prison and a lighthouse, became the source of many legends in ancient days. It's now open to the public as a cafeteria & elegant restaurant which hosts concerts and meetings as well. Transportation to the Tower is made by private shuttle boats from both shores of the Bosphorus.
Yedikule Hisari (Seven Towers dungeons)
This seven towered fortress was built in the time of Sultan Fatih Mehmet to protect the treasury. In Murat III's reign, the treasury protected at Yedikule was relocated to the Topkapi Palace and Yedikule began to be used as a dungeon. The place of imprisonment of many foreign ambassadors and Ottoman statesman, as well as a place of execution for some, the fortress was last used as a prison in 1831. It than became a dwelling for the lions of Topkapi Palace, and later gunpowder manufacturing place. Today the fortress is a museum, also hosting open air concerts in its inner courtyard during the summer months.
Beyazit Kulesi (Fire Tower)
It was built by architect Senekerim Kalfa of the Balyan family in 1828 under the reign of Mahmud II. The tower is 85 meters in height and has four floors, 180 steps staircase to the top. It was built over the Golden Horn to detect fires in Istanbul, baskets during the day and large red, green and white lanterns in the evenings were hung on the tower to indicate that there was a fire in the city. It's still used for the same purpose today. Unfortunately it's close to the public at the moment, and stands in the grounds of University of Istanbul.
Dikilitas (The Obelisk)
It was originally erected in the 16th century B.C. by the Pharaon Tutmois III in honor of the God of Sun Amon Ra in the city of Teb, Egypt, in front of the temple of Luxor. Brought to Istanbul by emperor Theodosius I in 390 A.D. for the decoration of the ancient Hippodrome. The approximately 19 meter high obelisk is covered on all four sides with hieroglyphic pictograms and stands on a marble base with many friezes depicting the Emperor and his family in the Hippodrome.