Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Ottoman Fortress

La forteresse Rumeli Hisari au bord du BosphoreImage via Wikipedia

Rumeli Hisari on the European shore of Istanbul was built by the Ottomans in preparation for the siege of Constantinople. Amazingly, it only took 4 months and 16 days to build because the Pashas (generals) competed to finish sections. Then in 1453, together with the Anadolu Hisari on the other side of the Bosphorus straight, the Ottomans succeded in cutting off the city and Constantinople became Istanbul.

After that, it was used as a customs checkpoint and later for housing prisoners of war. But after an earthquake, fire damage, and years of disrepair, it was abandoned in the 19th century and an entire neighborhood sprang up inside the walls. In the 1950s, the neighborhood was relocated and Rumeli Hisari was restored to its current use as a museum and sometime theater/concert venue. They just had a play about our friend Prometheus.

Per wikipedia: The fortress, designed by architect Müslihiddin, was initially called "Boğazkesen", literally meaning "The Strait Cutter", referring to the Bosporus Strait. The name carries a secondary and more macabre meaning; as boğaz not only means strait but also "throat" in Turkish. It was later renamed as Rumelihisarı, which means "Fortress on the Land of the Romans"

Love the double meaning of the original name...but then I use double meaning a lot in my writing so maybe it's just me.

Anyway, the gates of Sybil's school, Boğaziçi University, lie right near the fortress, so I would be remiss if I didn't mention it in Burnt Amber. In fact, the university buildings are made from the same dark limestone as the impressive towers. That one small corner of the city represents so much change, with the suspension bridge, ancient fortress and Ivy League-style university in such close proximity to each other (there's so much more, but those are the big sites). You can get them all in the same snapshot...see the one in the top corner of the sidebar?

I include Fortress Around Your Heart (Sting is my favorite) on my writing playlist. The lyrics really connect to the story and the setting. Sorry the video is so bad, can't believe we used to think it was cool??

NB. This related article has another favorite from poet Percy Byshe Shelley : Ozymandias. Shelley shows up in BA too and I even almost used Ozymandias. So Poetry and Historic Sites in one post - huzzah!

Related articles by Zemanta

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails