If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul. ~Alphonse de Lamartine
Map of Byzantine Constantinople with the hills names in brown
Map of Byzantine Constantinople with the hills names in brown. The ancient Constantinople was known as the City on the Seven Hills. The founder of the city, Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (272 AD – 337 AD), has ordered that the city should be built on seven hills to match the seven hills of Rome. The seven hills, all located in the area within the walls (in historic peninsula), are:
The hill which contains Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque) and Topkapı Palace.
The second hill is divided from the first by a fairly deep valley running from Babiali on the east Eminönü. Popular tourist destinations, the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar and Column of Constantine are on that second hill.
The third hill is now occupied by the main buildings of Istanbul University, the Bayezid II Mosque to the south and the Süleymaniye Mosque to the north.
The fourth hill on which stood the Church of the Holy Apostles and, subsequently, the Fatih Mosque, slopes down rather steeply to the Golden Horn on the north and, rather more gently, to Aksaray on the south.
Sultan Selim Mosque is on the fifth hill.
The districts of Edirnekapı and Ayvansaray are on the sixth hill, which gentle slopes run out beyond the line of the defense walls. The fifth and the sixth hills are separated by the valley running down on the west to Balat on the shore of the Golden Horn.
The seventh hill, known in Byzantine times as the Xērolophos or “dry hill,” it extends from Aksaray to the Theodosian Walls and the Marmara. It is a broad hill with three summits producing a triangle with apices at Topkapı, Aksaray, and Yedikule.