Istanbul to mark Ottoman conquest of city with grand ceremony
Istanbul is set to mark the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul on its 563rd anniversary with a major event created by a grand team of 1,200, as expectations rise for the event, which is expected to attract 1 million spectators.
“A 563-men Mehter concert [an Ottoman military band], a show by the Turkish Air Force ‘Turkish Stars’ [the air force’s aerobatics team], special conquest celebration and a fireworks display will be performed for Istanbulites and the entire world through a live broadcast,” Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality said.
The celebration will feature Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on May 29.
In its statement, the municipality said a large crew of 520 who are “experts in their fields” had been working on preparations at the city’s seaside Yenikapı venue, which is being decorated with advanced technology.
The world’s largest 3D mapping stage will be employed to revive the conquest of Istanbul, then called Constantinople, by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II (“Mehmed the Conqueror”) on May 29, 1453.
Around 1 million people are expected to attend the celebrations using the 150 gates amid tight security measures, the municipality said.
The live broadcast will not only be in Turkish but also in English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Russian and sign language.
A number of roads, including Aksu Avenue in Bakırköy and the coastal road stretching between Fatih and Aksakal Street will be closed in Istanbul on March 29 between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Last year’s celebrations in Yenikapı Square were also a major political tour de force as hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the venue just a week before the general election of June 7, 2015.
A new ceremonial brigade, the 478-man “Conquest Unit” that was formed by the Turkish Armed Forces on Erdoğan’s order, was present at the event, dressed as Ottoman soldiers. They were joined by an 84-men Ottoman military band, known in Turkish as the “Mehter.”
A 4,709-square-meter poster at the square, featuring Erdoğan and then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who also attended the event, entered the Guinness Book of World Records, according to Anadolu Agency.