Walking “along” the Theodosian Walls
Alex and I decided to combine a trip on the Metro-Bus (which I’m sure will get a post unto itself – but I’ll just post the question here: is it a metro? is it a bus?) with a trip to the Theodosian Walls, all along the way to the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (it was a busy morning!). But this particular post is going to be a bit disappointing, mostly because the walls themselves are disappointing. All of our guidebooks suggested that you can walk along the walls for the total distance of 6km, and that this makes a nice day-trip. Others suggested only walking along a small portion, which is what we decided to do. Now, I don’t know if we just chose the wrong portion, or if we missed something, but most of the walls were crumbling. You definitely could not walk ON the walls – but you could scramble just in front of them along a muddy path. There is no sidewalk or consistent roadway – just a strip of muddy grass between you and the cars. We did this for a short distance, and then abandoned the walls to continue our journey to Chora.
Originally the walls were much more impressive, of course. The walls surrounding Constantinople were one of the greatest and most complicated fortification systems of ancient times, and they did an excellent job of protecting the city for hundreds of years (until the conquest in 1453 of course). I think part of the problem with visiting the walls today is that there were actually many walls, from many different time periods, in many different places. Each progressive ruler changed and added and altered them slightly – adding gates, removing gates, pushing the walls out, bringing them back in … so there is no single decisive “wall experience”. I have to admit, I think we didn’t do enough research in planning this little venture, and so we didn’t see the restored sections (which look impressive on Wikipedia).
Nevertheless, it was certainly interesting to see the land walls, and to think about the history of the city. I think the guidebooks either need better information about which sections of wall to see, or else there should be a specific museum or attraction to visit that displays the best bits with some good historical information. The picture below shows Alex climbing the best section of wall that we could find …. but there was no pathway along the top. At the top of the stairs you were pretty much stuck. But you do get a good idea of the scale here … massive!