Seven Hills of Istanbul

You must have heard that Istanbul is called the ' City of Seven Hills '. The number seven has always been a mystical number, no matter what faith or culture we are talking about. Consider for a moment the stories about the creation of the world. Also, consider the narratives in the three major religions. Seven sins and seven virtues, seven heavens, seven days of creation, seven gates and levels of hell, etc.

Interestingly, the number seven is also the favorite number of many people around the world. However, Musa Ibn Nahman, an Andalusian Jewish scholar known as Nahmanides, attributes this to a kabbalistic explanation. For him, the number seven is the number of the natural world. The number is the seven days of the week, the seven colors of the rainbow, the seven notes of the musical scale, the seven mouths of the Nile, the Seven Wonders of the World, etc. manifests itself in many forms, including

In ancient times, people believed that the number seven represented perfection. Not surprisingly, the concept of the " city of seven hills " emerged, and the first original "city of seven hills" came to be known as Rome. The ancient founders of this city wanted to symbolize the sanctity of the city. As the city became the honorable capital of the glorious Roman Empire, the term changed to denote Rome's worldwide power and authority.

It's no coincidence that California, Mecca, Tehran, Barcelona, ​​Edinburgh, Seattle, Moscow, Madrid, and Lisbon later claimed to have been built on seven hills.

The ancient Byzantine city never claimed to be built on seven hills, but when Constantine the Great visited the city, he was so impressed that he decided to establish his new capital there. As a result, Constantinople became the "New Rome" and thus Constantinople inherited the power and authority of Rome. Not surprisingly, the "city of seven hills" also came to be used in the new capital of the glorious empire.

Seven Hills of Istanbul

To accentuate the city's grandeur, there were magnificent Roman buildings on the hills, but later Ottoman Empire artifacts were located there. The seven hills of Istanbul are located in today's Fatih district and there is a magnificent structure on each hill.

Sarayburnu Hill (Topkapi Palace / Hagia Sophia)

The ancient city of Byzantium was founded on Sarayburnu Hill and since then it has retained its cosmopolitan feel despite Istanbul's growing population. Sarayburnu is where the Romans built the magnificent Hagia Sophia and the Ottomans the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque. If you continue to wander around the area, you will also find the Basilica Cistern, German Fountain, Hagia Eirene, and Ibrahim Pasha Palace, among other attractions.

Çemberlitaş Hill (Nuruosmaniye Mosque / Forum Konstantin)

It is known that this hill is about 10 meters higher than Sarayburnu Hill. The region still attracts thousands of tourists to the Grand Bazaar every day. Forum Constantin was built during the Byzantine period, and the Column of Constantine – now known as Çemberlitaş – was built on this hill. The Ottomans blessed the hill with the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, the first royal mosque with classical elements, and the Grand Bazaar right next to it.

Beyazit Hill (Suleymaniye Mosque / Great Nymphaeum)

Located at an altitude of about 60 meters above sea level, Beyazıt Hill is one of the highest hills built during the Byzantine period. Constantine the Great had a forum rebuilt by Emperor Theodosius I and renamed the Theodosius Forum. The Pantokrator Church, another important symbol of the Byzantine period, was converted into a mosque called “Zeyrek” today. Süleymaniye Mosque was designed and built by Mimar Sinan, the most famous architect of the Ottoman Empire, by order of the glorious Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Beyazit Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque, and Istanbul University are what remains of the Ottoman Empire today.

Fatih Hill (Fatih Mosque / Old Apostles Church)

This is one of the highest points of the old city and is home to the first sultan mosque built by Fatih Sultan Mehmed. During the Byzantine period, it was the site of the Church of the Holy Apostles, second in size and importance to Hagia Sophia. After Istanbul was conquered in 1453, the Holy Apostles briefly became the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, but was later abandoned by the Patriarch and eventually demolished by the Ottomans to build the Fatih Mosque. This hill descends to the Golden Horn in the north and Aksaray in the south and is connected to the Valens Aqueduct and Beyazıt Hill.

Yavuz Sultan Selim Hill  (Yavuz Selim Mosque / Aspar Cistern)

This hill rising from the Golden Horn ends in Çarşamba Mahallesi and is the closest hill to the Golden Horn. Yavuz Selim Hill contains various important structures such as Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque, Aspar Cistern, Fethiye Mosque, and Pammakaristos Church, which showcase the architecture of pre-conquest Ottoman mosques. 

Edirnekapi Hill (Mihrimah Mosque / Chora and Blakhernai)

Edirnekapı Hill, which is approximately 70 meters above sea level, is the highest of the seven hills. It is a kind of extension of Fatih Hill and is separated from Yavuz Selim Hill by the valley descending from the Golden Horn. Here is the site of the Chora Monastery, one of the original structures of Eastern Roman art and an important tourist attraction with its mosaics. The Blachernaean Palace was built here in the 12th century and served as the imperial residence until the conquest of the city in 1453. If you can go up the hill, you will see Mihrimah Sultan Mosque.

Kocamustafapaşa Hill (Haseki Complex / Arcadius Column)

Kocamustafapaşa Hill is different from the other six hills as it is the only hill close to the Marmara Sea. It starts from the Aksaray region and extends to the Theodosian Walls and the Sea of ​​Marmara. It rises between Cerrahpaşa and Samatya neighborhoods and reaches a height of about 60 meters above sea level. This area was famous for its slave market during both the Byzantine and Ottoman periods until the 19th century. The main attraction on the hill, Haseki Mosque, was built for Hürrem Sultan, the beloved wife of Suleiman the Magnificent and the first woman to engage in active politics.