Following amendments the government made to the traditional May 19 celebrations, it is now planning to make changes to the May 29 ceremonies marking the anniversary of the conquest of İstanbul, the Radikal daily reported on Thursday.
İstanbul, or Constantinople, as it was known, was conquered by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, also known as the Mehmed the Conqueror, on May 29, 1453. The İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and the İstanbul Governor's Office organize a variety of activities every year, beginning with a ceremony at Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror's tomb in the garden of Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque in İstanbul's Fatih district, which is followed by a laser and fireworks show on the Golden Horn, along with the symbolic re-enactment of the conquest.
According to the new regulations, the re-enactment of the conquest will be removed from the celebrations, likely a move to tone down militaristic displays. Formerly, the re-enactments of the moment when the Ottomans smashed their way into Constantinople would annually take place around Belgradkapı (Belgrade Gate) as part of the celebrations to commemorate May 29. A symbolic small army of janissaries would “re-conquer” the city, accompanied by the firing of cannons and the mehter takımı, an Ottoman military marching band.
Another historic scene brought to life in past years was when Sultan Mehmed II had his people make a path from oiled tree branches in order to bring ships overland, because access to the port was blocked by the Byzantines.
Such re-enactments will no longer take place as part of May 29 ceremonies. This year's celebration program, which is being organized by the İstanbul Governor's Office, will begin with a visit to Mehmed the Conqueror's tomb in the garden of the Fatih Mosque, where people will be offered helva, a Turkish dessert, and şerbet, a traditional beverage. Moreover, the mehter takımı will march through the streets from Beyazıt Square to the Hagia Sophia Museum, which will be followed by a performance of the janissary band.
Also, the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality will organize a laser, light and fireworks show along the banks of the Golden Horn to commemorate İstanbul's conquest. The mehter takımı will present performances at the Golden Horn and at Rumelihisarı fortress.