Thousands celebrate the conquest of İstanbulOn May 29th, Sunday, the 563rd anniversary of the conquest of İstanbul was celebrated with a grand event at Yenikapı, where the old walls from the Byzantine era still rise. Among the guests were President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, who rose to the office just five days before the event.
Prior to the ceremony, the military band of the Presidential Guard Regiment and Mehteran (Traditional Ottoman military band) performed to the eager audience of thousands, coming mostly from different parts of İstanbul.
The battles that took place during the siege were re-enacted by 500 men dressed as Ottoman soldiers on a 3-D stage specifically built for the event. Replicas of galleys and cannons, together with actual-size ship models were among some of the spectacles of the celebration organized by both the Governorship of İstanbul and the Metropolitan Municipality of İstanbul. The aerial stunt team of the Turkish Air Forces, named The Turkish Stars, also performed at the event by flying over the ceremonial area.
İstanbul, once the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, known also as the Byzantine Empire, fell to the Ottoman army led by Sultan Mehmed II, on the morning of May 29th, 1453. This historical moment marks the turning point for the Ottoman history, as well as the European history. From the conquest onwards, the Ottoman Empire became an essential power in European politics, up until its dissolution in 1922, after which came the Republic of Turkey.
More than half-a-millennia after the conquest, spanning over two continents, İstanbul still preserves a unique position in regard to its relationship with Europe and the rest of the world, thanks to its exceptionally rich history and culture.