– Massive coastal Yenikapi meeting area will host conquest celebrations for the first time
ISTANBUL – ‘Rise and revival’ are the themes which will mark Istanbul’s upcoming celebration of the 562nd anniversary of its conquest by the Ottomans.
The city has moved its annual celebration for the first time from the traditional Balat district to the seaside Yenikapi area; events will be held on Saturday, rather than the actual anniversary date of Friday, to encourage more participation.
On May 29, 1453, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II conquered Istanbul, then called Constantinople, from where the Byzantines had ruled the Eastern Roman Empire for more than a 1,000 years.
The conquest transformed the city, once the heart of the Byzantine realm, into the capital of the new Ottoman Empire.
A 450-strong team has been working hard to finish the final preparations at the Yenikapi venue, which is being furnished with advanced technology.
“We will hold unique and comprehensive celebrations, which will be followed by all Istanbulites, all citizens in Turkey and foreigners on TV,” Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas told reporters on Wednesday. “We want to have an atmosphere where our citizens share the enthusiasm comfortably and peacefully.”
According to the municipality’s program, the event will start at 5.30 p.m. local time with attendance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
State officials — political, military and administrative — and political parties have also been invited to the event, said Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin. “I hope it will be a celebration worthy of its meaning,” he said.
The event comes one week before the country’s 25th general election to be held on June 7.
During the event, a 3D film about the conquest will be screened on a giant TV.
An Ottoman janissary band, which will consist of 562 people for this anniversary, will play conquest songs.
Turkey’s national aerobatic team – the Turkish Stars – is scheduled to perform a special show in the sky.
Speeches to be delivered during the event will be translated into English, Arabic, Spanish, French, Russian and sign language.
One-and-a-half million people are expected to attend, where they will enter through 120 gates amid tight security.
On that day, the coastline and historic walls of Istanbul, which were built by the Byzantines to protect the city, will be illuminated. Firework and laser shows are scheduled to color the area. Pyrotechnics will also be used during the celebrations.
The Panorama 1453 History Museum, near the city’s historic walls and which depicts the conquest with a 360-degree panoramic painting, will also present commemorative coins to every visitor on the anniversary day.
The 562nd visitor will get a painting depicting the conquest.
With the conquest of Istanbul, a new era started politically and administratively in Turkey and the wider world. Sultan Mehmed II became a commander that the Prophet Mohammed mentioned decades ago.
“One day, Constantinople will be conquered. How wonderful and blessed are the commander of its conquest and his soldiers!” he had said.