So, the Friday before last, I spent the afternoon with my Greek-American friend Eva and her family. Her mother is visiting from Greece, and she wanted to see the tulips before she heads back, so we went over to Yedikule, as I'd heard the park there had a large tulip display. We weren't completely sure of the park's name -- I'd seen it mentioned as Soğanlı Bitkiler park in a newspaper article, but that doesn't generate a lot of Google hits, and when we got there, the sign said the International Peace Garden. According to the guard there, the park has three names, and hence the confusion.
|Tankers waiting in the Sea of Marmara...dear god, look at that pollution hanging over the Asian side of Istanbul!|
Despite its presence in a corner created by fast-moving roads, the park is gorgeous. The location is prime: it lies along the old city walls and across the way from the Sea of Marmara and a different park of pathways and grassy areas that hugs the shoreline. Soğanlı Bitkiler/International Peace Garden park sits along the Land Walls of Theodosius, a second set of city walls built by Emperor Theodosius II in the 400s to protect the burgeoning city of Constantinople. The walls stretched from here, on the Sea of Marmara, to the Golden Horn, enclosing the city, which at that time was basically limited to the peninsula.
Although the park is relatively large, it's nothing compared to the length of the city walls. At the end of the park, you can more or less follow the line of walls and reach the Golden Gate (visible off in the distance) and the entrance to Yedikule Fortress. The fortress was built in the 1450s by conquering sultan Mehmet II, who smartly used the existing wall structure and just had three more towers built, creating an enclosed fortification. But alas, Yedikule Fortress was mostly used as a prison and execution site.
The fortress was unexpectedly closed when we were there, so we couldn't go in. [Huh, when we were there, the sign at the entry said Yedikule Fortress would be closed for two days, but a note on this recent newspaper article says it will be closed until further notice.] I gather that the big attraction is the view and the fact that you're climbing on something that's 1600 years old. You can still climb up on the walls at other spots, though.
From there, we walked back to Eva's neighborhood, passing some lovely, if dilapidated, traditional wood houses along the way.