Curious tourists visiting Istanbul know that the monuments of the Ottoman period of its history have sprouted through the monuments related to the period of history of the legendary Byzantine capital, Constantinople, which was located on the territory of the current Fatih district. The legendary city was one of the richest and most beautiful medieval cities in the world and was founded between the 4th and 15th centuries on the shores of the Sea of Marmara. This article is devoted to this historical period of the city. You can read about the surviving monuments of the Byzantine period in today's Istanbul here.


  1. The Beginning of History
  2. Constantinople after Constantine (4th-9th centuries)
  3. Constantinople in the 10th-15th centuries
  4. The Fall of Constantinople (1453)

Constantinople was first the capital of the new Roman Empire, then of its Eastern part, which later grew into the Byzantine Empire. In this city the traditions of Roman and Hellenic cultures continued to develop, and science and crafts flourished. Here Christianity found its support at the state level, amazing temples and palaces were built here, partly preserved to this day and very interesting to look at and to touch such a legendary history

For a long time Constantinople was practically the center of the universeFor a long time Constantinople was practically the center of the universe

The Beginning of History

The city of Constantinople, which has existed for a very long chronological period in its development from prosperity to decline, did not appear in an empty place. The coast of the Sea of Marmara, convenient in strategic and geographical terms, began to be inhabited in ancient times. Subsequently, the Roman Emperor Constantine took a fancy to this settled area, but it was several centuries later.

Byzantium (7th century B.C. - 3rd century A.D.)

At the junction of the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara in the 7th century BC, the ancient Greek colonists (Dorians) established one of the colonies, displacing the local ancient Thracian tribes. According to Greek mythology, the first king of the new Greek settlement was the son of the god Poseidon, born to him by Keroessa (daughter of Io and Zeus). And the name of this king was Visas, so the city he founded was called Byzantium.

The place chosen for the foundation of the city was more than fortunate both geographically and strategically. Byzantium gained control of the Bosphorus, connecting the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, which provided it with a constant and stable income, trade and prosperity.

However, the wealthy city became a desirable prey for its neighbors. It was claimed by the Persians who captured it in the early 6th century BC, and the Spartans fought the Athenians for it. In the 3rd century BC the northern coast of the Golden Horn was inhabited by the Galatians, a Celtic tribe. To protect the city from all sorts of attacks, in the middle of the 2nd century BC Byzantium entered into an alliance with the Roman Empire and gradually came under its power. This allowed Byzantium to live in peace and prosperity for two centuries.

However, the events of the Civil War of the late 2nd century AD, in which Byzantium sided with the emperor of the eastern part of the empire, Gaius Pescinius Nigernius Justus, led to the city being taken by the troops of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus after a long siege. As a result of this defeat Byzantium lost all its privileges and military fortifications, which marked the beginning of its decline. The weakened city was repeatedly attacked by barbarians in the 3rd century, destroying what could still be destroyed.

Under Emperor Septimius Severus the borders of Byzantium slightly increasedUnder Emperor Septimius Severus the borders of Byzantium slightly increased

Byzantium was saved from total destruction by the new Roman Emperor Constantine the First, who in the first half of the 4th century decided to turn it into the new capital of the empire. Tourists will be interested to know that the territory of the ancient city of Byzantium was located on the site of the current district of Istanbul, which is called Fatih. You can read about what today's tourists can see in this district here.

So, the area where almost 10 centuries lived, traded, born and died people of the ancient Byzantium, became the basis for the creation of a new city, famous for itself throughout the centuries. From the ancient Byzantium not very many material traces have survived. The archaeological artefacts partly found during excavations can be seen in the Archaeological Museum.

Material evidence of the distant history of ConstantinopleMaterial evidence of the distant history of Constantinople is found everywhere

And in the city itself about the times of Byzantium reminds only the Hippodrome, which in the 3rd century was built by Septimius the North, but later rebuilt and improved Constantine the Great - the founder of Constantinople.

The Erection of Constantinople

The history of the transformation of Byzantium into Constantinople began when the location of the declining city at the junction of Asia and Europe was noticed by the Roman emperor Constantine the First and much to his liking. He decided to make it the center of the empire, placing it, like Rome, on the seven hills of the Bosporus promontory. 

Constantine the First created a beautiful new cityConstantine the First created a beautiful new city in place of Byzantium

In the fall of 324, having defined the boundaries of the future renewed Byzantium, the most famous architects, builders, painters and sculptors and workers of other fields began to shape the appearance of the new city. All of them were exempted from taxation for the time of their work in Byzantium. Constantine sought to transfer the most valuable works of art from the various towns of his vast empire to the city he was creating.

In order to attract new residents to live in Byzantium, Constantine enacted several decrees by which all those who moved there received certain benefits and a "food bonus" in the form of free distribution of grain, oil, wine and kindling. In addition to the "carrot" method, the "stick" method was very effective: wealthy citizens of the empire were obliged to buy at least one house in Byzantium, otherwise they were deprived of the right to inherit their real estate.

Building new cities in the Middle AgesBuilding new cities in the Middle Ages was a complex and costly affair

And here on May 11, 330 historical event - New Rome or the city of Constantine (Constantinople), as it is now called Byzantium, was consecrated. The capital of the still united Roman Empire was moved here. 

Celebrations of the consecration of Constantinople took place at the renovated and monumental Hippodrome, which soon became the center of all social and political life in the city. The event was very solemn and was accompanied by performances of artists, horse chariots, etc. The city began a new page of its history.

Constantine's columnConstantine's column, on which his statue once stood, is still standing

Constantine's reign was a period of transition from paganism to Christianity. Although Constantine himself could not make up his mind about his religious choice for a long time, it was under his reign that many Christian temples were founded, including the Churches of Saint Peace (Irene) and Saint Sophia, the Churches of Saint Acacius and Saint Mokius. At the same time pagan temples, such as the Temple of Fortune, were also built and pagan sanctuaries were renewed.

During this period the Column of Constantine, topped with a sculpture of the emperor, appears in Constantinople. The renewed Hippodrome is adorned with the Serpent Column, the Quadriga, and the Obelisk of Constantine.

The Hippodrome of ConstantinopleThe Hippodrome of Constantinople was the center of all city life 

Only during the reign of Constantine the Great in the new Roman capital grew thousands of houses, among which more than 4 thousand belonged to the noble and wealthy Romans, three dozen palaces and temple buildings, hundreds of bakeries and more than a hundred bath complexes, Hippodrome, 2 theaters and circuses were stretched kilometers of water supply.

Much attention was paid to the equipment of harbors, because trade was one of the most powerful sources of city income. In the harbors were built warehouses, berths, breakwaters, etc. So was created its own fleet. The city began to develop rapidly and rapidly. Constantinople formed the center of Byzantine culture, famous doctors, theologians and philosophers lived and worked here.

Constantinople's St. Sophia CathedralConstantinople's St. Sophia Cathedral eventually became the largest in the world

Constantinople after Constantine (4th-9th centuries)

After Constantine's death (337) a sharp and bloody internecine war broke out between his direct heirs, which ended in 353 with the victory of one of them - Constantine's son, Constantius - who was able to unite the empire again. It was under him that the first St. Sophia Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Apostles, which served until the 11th century as the burial place of the Byzantine rulers, began to function.

Later on, Byzantine rulers succeeded each other on the throne, changing not only the city's development, but even its religion, such as Julian the Apostate, who undertook the restoration of paganism in the early sixties of the 4th century.

One of the most prominent rulers of Constantinople and the Roman Empire in the second half of the 4th century was Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395), who began his career as a talented general who defeated the Goths. He then became head of the Eastern Roman Empire, and for a time managed to unite the entire Roman Empire. It was under him that the famous Egyptian obelisk appeared on the Hippodrome. It was also this emperor who famously banned the Olympic Games as a pagan event.

Theodosius the GreatDuring the reign of Theodosius the Great, Constantinople prospered, grew and developed

The period of Theodosius' reign saw the activity of such famous theologians as Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Nilus Postnikus, and the philosophers Themistius and Synesius of Cyrene. The beginning of the 5th century was marked by the expulsion of St. John Chrysostom and the related urban disturbances which led to the destruction of the St. Sophia Basilica. Also during this period many Romans who had fled the barbarian attacks moved to Constantinople.

During the reign of Theodosius II, the grandson of Theodosius the Great (401-450), the walls of Constantinople, which were badly damaged by earthquakes, were rebuilt. The renewed 16-meter city fortifications now had 9 gates, including the Golden Gate, and about 400 towers. The most powerful and fortified walls were on the side of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. The remains of this wall can still be seen today.

The famous Golden GateThe famous Golden Gate appeared in the city fortifications under Theodosius the Second

Under Theodosius II the University of Constantinople began to function (425), the Theodosius Cistern was built near the Hippodrome, and craft industries, both free and with slave labor, were actively developed. Under him the new imperial palace of Bukoleon (Vukoleon), located on the seashore, began to be built.

Constantinople produced weapons, all kinds of fabrics, ceramics, glass and much, much more. The foreign policy and trade communications of Constantinople with other countries expanded that led to increase of a monetary turnover and prosperity of city. The presence of secular education along with religious education led to the emergence and development of sciences such as history, geography, etc.

Roman Empire was truly vastВ In the 4th and 5th centuries, the Roman Empire was truly vast

By the end of the 5th century Constantinople was a very crowded city with narrow (up to 5 meters) narrow streets, many of which were a constant trade of various goods. Only the central street Mesa, connecting the cathedral of St. Sophia and the western city walls, was wide. The Mesa ran through the most popular shopping plazas, the Forums (including Augusteon and Constantine), and past the richest and most beautiful houses in the city.

The main street of the Roman capitalThe main street of the Roman capital was quite consistent with its status

The harbors of Constantinople were full of foreign ships that brought goods from China and India, Persia and the Black Sea, Egypt and the Crimea. But despite the fact that the city was quite rich, there were always many middle-class and very poor people living there, who at the slightest occasion were ready for riots, arson, and murder. One of the famous riots in the city was the "Nic Revolt" during the reign of Justinian in the first half of the 6th century. This rebellion was connected with the political parties that arose from the activities of the Hippodrome, which was at that time the center of all social and political life in the city. 

Under emperor Justinian the First (527-565), who strived to keep his name through the centuries, such emblematic constructions as the new St. Sophia Cathedral, the Basilica Cistern and many other temples (St. Irene, St. Sergius and Bacchus etc.) were erected. By the end of Justinian's reign the Byzantine Empire was at the zenith of its prosperity and glory. Territorially it included Syria and Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia, and even parts of North Africa. Constantinople subsequently suffered from epidemics, earthquakes, rebellions, attacks from outside and other negative influences.

Beginning in the 7th century, Arab conquerors began to raid ByzantiumBeginning in the 7th century, Arab conquerors began to raid Byzantium

In the 7th century, a serious confrontation with the Arab Caliphate began, resulting in the loss of many lands, which had a negative impact on the economy of Constantinople and the entire empire. Constant struggle for power with palace coups, feuds, revolts and attacks from outside also had a negative impact. All this led to the decline of Constantinople's importance on the world stage.

Nevertheless, as the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople remained one of the most prosperous and great cities of the period. It developed not only trade, but also scientific branches in the form of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, philosophy, jurisprudence, etc. The city also continued to develop as a theological center.

На многие десятилетия Константинополь оказался в руках иконоборцевConstantinople was in the hands of the iconoclasts for many decades

The iconoclastic movement that began under Emperor Leo the Third (717-741) caused great damage to Constantinople in the first half of the 8th century. During this political confrontation between the state and the Church, which lasted for about two centuries, numerous temple icons, frescoes and mosaics, altarpieces and sculptural images were destroyed, monasteries fell into decay, and monks were persecuted. The results of iconoclasm can be seen in the example of the Church of St. Irene, which is located today in the Topkapi Palace.

Interior of Saint Irina CathedralThe interior of St. Irene's Cathedral has miraculously survived the iconoclasm

Byzantium was also shaken by social uprisings, such as Thomas the Slavic Revolt in the first half of the ninth century and many others. But life in Constantinople continued. The Grand Imperial Palace, which is a luxurious and spacious imperial residence, was gradually completed and decorated. The international trade and diplomatic relations were growing. The economy developed, and in the 8th-9th centuries the transformation of the slave-holding system in Byzantium to the feudal one began. By the middle of the 9th century iconoclasm was officially restored, and in the same period the economy, culture and science began to rise again.

Constantinople in the 10th-15th centuries

In the second half of the 9th century the Macedonian dynasty came to power in Byzantium, the founder of which was the Thracian Armenian Basil the First (867-886). It was he who revived the laws of Justinian's rule, strengthening the bureaucratic apparatus of state power. He restored the foundations of Christianity, eliminated the consequences of iconoclasm, and repaired temples and monasteries. Under Basil the First a fine example of Byzantine temple architecture is built, the 5-domed cross church "Nea Ecclesia", designed to symbolize the beginning of a new era (not preserved).

Temple of Nea EcclesiaThe temple of Nea Ecclesia symbolized a return to icon-worship in Christianity

At the beginning of the 10th century (907) the well-known Byzantine campaign of the Kiev prince Oleg took place, during which the Russian troops ravaged the outskirts of Constantinople and nailed their shields to the gates of the city, which they called Tsargrad. After negotiations with Oleg, which ended with the conclusion of a peace treaty, the Byzantines gave the Russian merchants great trade benefits. 

But not only Russians went to the rich Constantinople. The army of the Bulgarian king Simeon the First also stood under its walls, forcing the Byzantines to sign a peace treaty beneficial to Bulgaria.

shield of Prince Oleg of KievIn the 10th century, the shield of Prince Oleg of Kiev decorated the gates of Constantinople

After prince Oleg to Constantinople tried also prince Igor (941) with the armies, but this time Byzantines appeared much stronger. Though the following campaign which has taken place three years later, has brought Russia the new favorable peace treaty. In 957 Constantinople rather hospitably accepted princess Olga, decided to be christened in this city. Its christening occurred with participation of the Byzantium emperor - Constantine VII (Porphyrogenitus).

Russia's turn toward the Christian religion strengthened Constantinople's ties with Kiev. Especially close relations with Byzantium were established at Russia after acceptance of Christianity in 988. And at the end of the 10th century the Russian army of Vladimir Svyatoslavovich helped the Byzantine emperor Basil the Second to defend his capital from the rebellious Bulgarians. Marriage unions between representatives of children of ruling dynasties of Russia and Constantinople are also known from this period. The Byzantium princess from the Macedonian dynasty Anna (sister of Basil II) became wife Vladimir Svyatoslavovich, who christened Russia.

Vladimir’s marriage to Byzantine princess AnnaVladimir's marriage to the Byzantine princess Anna contributed to the baptism of Russia

The mother of the famous Vladimir Monomakh will also be the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Ninth - Maria (or Anastasia), who became the wife of the youngest of the sons of Yaroslav the Wise and brought to Russia his family name of Monomakhs. The marriage of Moscow Prince Vasily the Second with the Byzantine princess Sophia Paleolog, which took place in the middle of the 15th century, and the double-headed eagle of the Paleologues became the emblem of Russia, is also well known. Thanks to these and other facts, Russia is often called the successor of the Byzantine Empire.

The Union of Prince Basil the Second with Sophia PalaiologosThe alliance of Prince Vasily II and Sophia Paleologa was an alliance of Russia and Byzantium

In the mid-10th century, the southern coast of the Golden Horn began to be actively settled by visiting merchants (German, Italian, Genoese, and others). During the same period, due to the collapse of the Arab Caliphate, Byzantium was able to reassert its influence in Crete, Asia Minor, Syria, Upper Mesopotamia, Armenia and Georgia. From the 10th to the 12th century actively operated trade route "from the Varangians to the Greeks," which partially passed through the territory of Russia.

The beginning of the 11th century is associated with a series of palace coups perpetrated by the favorites of Zoe, daughter of Constantine the Eighth. This woman, married for the first time at the age of 50, was known for her irrepressible temperament and voluptuousness. Each of her new favorites overthrew the current emperor and became Zoë's spouse and the new emperor of Byzantium.

Empress ZoeThe mosaic image of Empress Zoe can be seen in St. Sophia Church

The beginning of the 11th century was also marked by an aggravation of religious contradictions between papal Rome and the patriarchate of Constantinople, which ended in a split of Christianity into a Roman Catholic and a Greek Catholic (Orthodox) direction. This had a negative impact on Constantinople's relations with Western Europe and led to a crusade against Constantinople in the 13th century. The 11th century also saw strained relations between Byzantium and the Pechenegs and Seljuk Turks, who pressed the Byzantines from the north-east. Against the background of all these events, trade and crafts, arts and sciences continued to develop in Constantinople.

The 12th century was quite turbulent in the history of Constantinople and all of Byzantium. Imperial dynasties were changing, there were riots, clashes between Orthodox and Catholic sides, pogroms and conspiracies. At the beginning of the 13th century (1204) Constantinople, weakened by the Crusaders (the Fourth Crusade), was plundered and desecrated, ending in numerous fires. 

Conquest of Constantinople by the CrusadersThe capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders is even depicted in a painting by E. Delacroix

This was the first fall of the Byzantine capital, the results of which were very, very sad. The famous trade of Constantinople was destroyed, along with its commercial quarters, rows, and corporations. Many monuments of art and architecture perished, and many palaces, temples, and sarcophagi were plundered. Constantinople was dealt a cruel and irreparable blow.

The Byzantine Empire ceased to exist in its entirety after the fall of Constantinople. It was divided into several different states, principalities and kingdoms. Most of the temples, including the Cathedral of St. Sophia, began to preach Catholicism. Due to the weakness of Constantinople, the Byzantine environs were plundered by Bulgarians and Polovtsians. And the capital itself, ruled by the Latins, was sinking into utter decay and despondency.

Byzantium was divided into partsAfter the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders, Byzantium was divided into parts

In the early sixties of the 13th century the emperor of Nicea, which became a stronghold of Byzantine opposition, Michael the Eighth Palaeologus began to take active steps to regain Constantinople and expel the Latins from there. He was supported by the Genoese and the mercenary armies of the Polovtsians and Seljuks. The summer campaign of 1261 has come to the end with triumphal capture of Constantinople (on August 15) and an establishment in it of last Byzantium dynasty - Paleologian.

The Paleolog dynasty inherited a weakened Constantinople and a fractured Byzantium. It was almost impossible to reach the former power. The palace and temple ruins, weakened economy and lost trade power, famine and epidemics - all this was a huge obstacle for the revival of Constantinople. But thanks to the efforts of the authorities, the city was gradually reborn from the ruins, trade and merchant shipping that enriched the city treasury were revived, crafts and social life were revived.

Michael the Eighth PalaeologusMichael the Eighth Palaeologus was the founder of the last Byzantine dynasty

The Galata Tower and its surroundings were given to the Genoese for their assistance in the capture of Constantinople. And in time Galata became a more prosperous urban area than the center of Constantinople, and the Genoese merchants became the most wealthy and influential in Byzantium.

Michael the Eighth, during his reign (1261-1282), attempted to conclude an alliance with Catholic Rome, but this did not meet with popular support, and already during the reign of his son Andronicus the Second this alliance was annulled. During this period the tangible movement of the Ottoman Turks into Byzantine lands began. Since 1362 under Murad the First, the Ottoman capital became based in Adrianople, which became much closer to Constantinople.

As a result of internal internecine strife, some of the nobility forced Andronicus II to place his grandson, Andronicus III, on the throne as his co-ruler. During this reign (1321-1325), known as the "War of the Two Andronicos," the well-known symbol of the dynasty appeared in the form of a double-headed eagle, signifying the hostile division of the dynasty by its two co-rulers.

 reign of the two AndronicusDuring the reign of the two Andronicus, the Paleologues had a coat of arms in the form of a double-headed eagle

After the overthrow of Andronicus II and the sole accession to the throne of his grandson, civil wars broke out in Byzantium, aggravated by plague epidemics, conflicts with the Galatian Genoese, etc. Constantinople, whose population was steadily declining, remained virtually the only city from the once great Byzantine Empire.

At the end of the 14th century, Sultan Bayazit the First attempted to seize Constantinople by siege, which lasted seven long years and caused famine in the city. Constantinople was saved from falling by the unexpected invasion of Anatolia by Tamerlane's troops, who defeated the Ottoman army and captured Bayazid himself.

Tamerlane's attackTamerlane's attack prevented Bayazit the First from capturing Constantinople

In the early twenties of the 15th century, Sultan Murad II also tried to take Constantinople, but met fierce resistance. Although Constantinople paid tribute to the Ottoman Empire, it continued to be a free city. In order to obtain help from Western Europe against the Ottoman Empire, the ruling Constantinople emperors even allied themselves with the Roman papacy. This decision, however, caused a storm of protest among the townspeople and a division among them. The days of Constantinople, weakened and torn by controversy, were numbered.

The Fall of Constantinople (1453)

The fall of a great and beautiful Orthodox city like Constantinople under the onslaught of the Ottoman army in the mid-15th century was a rather sad page in the history of the entire Middle Ages. Although some buildings of Constantinople have survived to this day, the Byzantine city itself then ceased to exist. It continued to be called Constantinople until 1930, but it began to practice a different religion, erect other religious buildings and lead a different way of life.

The Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (1444-1481) prepared for the seizure of Constantinople for a long time and painstakingly, and the seizure itself happened only after a long siege. Mehmed II was ruled by his father Murad II at the age of 12 and during his first years in power he gave an impression of an inexperienced and immature ruler, but his dream of conquering Constantinople was always living in his heart. The young sultan's family was opposed to the fight against Constantinople, but he was unstoppable in his pursuit of his goal.

Mehmed II armyFor the campaign against Constantinople, Mehmed II gathered a huge army

Also on the European coast of the Bosporus east of Constantinople was the Rumelian fortress (Rumeli-Hisar), which, together with the Anatolian Ottoman fortress built in the 14th century and located opposite, on the Asian coast of the Bosporus, controlled the entire flow of ships in the area. Today, tourists can see the remains of both of these fortresses quite independently, for their visit is not among the popular tourist routes.

Rumelian fortress todayYou can still see the preserved structures of the Rumelian fortress today

The construction of the Rumelian fortress took place in 1452, and from that time on both fortresses did not allow any foreign vessel to enter Constantinople without inspection and duties. The emperor of Constantinople made several attempts to oppose the arbitrariness of the Ottoman sultan and sent ambassadors to him, but all to no avail. The last ambassadorial delegation of the Byzantine emperor was executed - it was a direct declaration of war, after which the gradual capture of the Greek garrisons towards Constantinople began. The resisting defenders of the garrisons were mercilessly exterminated and the rest were released.

Before the decisive attack on Constantinople Mehmed II created a large 80-thousand army, strengthened the fleet, consisting of more than 120 different ships. In addition, the young sultan paid great attention to the creation of new weapons, including masonry weapons. For example, the Hungarian craftsman Orban created a huge cannon for those times called "Basilica," firing 600-pound cannonballs at more than 1.5-kilometer distances. Although this powerful cannon could only fire seven shots a day, the destruction from them was more than powerful! At the foundry Mehmed built, dozens of artillery pieces were cast and transported to the site of upcoming battles.

Basilica-type cannonsBasilica-type cannons were a new word in warfare

It should be noted that the chains of Constantinople's fortress walls, especially on the side of the Sea of Marmara, were among the best fortifications in the world. Aid in the form of food and Neapolitan archers arrived in Constantinople from the Pope of Rome. Small military detachments arrived from the Genoese colonies. The Constantinople fleet consisted of nearly 30 ships.

Since April 2, 1453 the siege of Constantinople began, which was completely surrounded by Ottoman troops and cut off from the rest of the world. On 10 April the Emperor of Constantinople was sent a proposal for the surrender of the city. The emperor categorically rejected the proposal.

The encirclement and siege of ConstantinopleThe encirclement and siege of Constantinople by Mehmed's troops undermined the city's strength

From April 12 to 18 Mehmed seized the Byzantine fortresses around Constantinople, including the island castles and garrisons. All resisting were dealt with very cruelly. For example, about 80 captured defenders of Studios and Therapia have been planted on a stake for intimidation of defenders of Constantinople directly before city walls. And all the inhabitants of the island of Prinkipo were sold into slavery for their resistance.

Since the Ottoman fleet could not pass into the Golden Horn Bay because of the iron chain stretched there, Mehmed II came up with a cunning move that consisted in the construction of a log road soaked in oil from the Bosporus Strait to the bay through Galata Hill. On this road dozens of Ottoman ships were moved into the impregnable bay. The defenders of Constantinople failed to destroy the enemy ships, and the Turks fortified there built a pontoon bridge from wine barrels, getting quite close to bombard the city walls.

The walls of ConstantinopleThe walls of Constantinople were crumbling under cannon fire

In May the walls of Constantinople continued to be bombarded and undermined, but the defenders resisted with counterattacks and courageous combat operations. By the end of May the Ottoman troops had already stopped believing in the success of the venture. Some of the military leaders suggested that the unsuccessful siege of Constantinople should be lifted. But Mehmed decided to launch an attack on the city, promising the soldiers three days to plunder. On May 28, the day of rest before the attack, the attackers made final preparations. More than 2,000 ladders alone had been prepared to climb the walls.

On the night of April 28 to 29 the assault on Constantinople began, the Ottomans attacked with varying success, but the forces were unequal. Emperor Constantine the Eleventh, who was killed during the battle, fought alongside all the defenders. The forces of the defenders weakened and soon the great city of Constantinople fell. The emperor's body was identified; his severed head was first placed on the column of Augustus and then placed in a precious casket, in which it was forwarded by Muslim rulers to one another. 

The last emperor of ConstantinopleThe last emperor of Constantinople in Athens has a monument

This was the end of the great Christian city, and the beginning of its new era - the era of the capital of the Ottoman state - Istanbul, although the official name of the city until 1930 remained Constantinople. Very closely intertwined with the history of Byzantine Constantinople is the history of the Prince's Islands, in the monasteries of which the deposed and exiled emperors and members of their families found shelter. 

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