May 29 marks the 561st anniversary since the Fall of Constantinople, which was the result of the siege of the Byzantine capital by the Ottoman army led by Sultan Mehmed II, while the city was being ruled by Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos.
The siege lasted from April 6 to May 29, 1453. When Constantinople finally fell, the millennium-long Byzantine Empire ceased to exist.
On Tuesday evening, May 29, the city was attacked by Turks. Once the signal was given, the city suffered a combined attack from three sides simultaneously. The Byzantines were able to cut off the underground tunnels stopping the Turks from passing under the walls. Even though the Ottoman army’s numbers were higher, the citizens of Constantinople were able to repel them multiple times, causing terrible losses. The first two attacks were repelled. But Mehmed had carefully organized the third and last attack.
With great perseverance, the Turks attacked the walls near the gate of San Romano, where the Emperor was fighting. One of the main defenders of the city, Giovanni Giustiniani, was seriously injured and was forced to leave the fight. This was a great loss for the Byzantines. The walls started cracking and the Emperor, who was fighting, fell in battle. There is no precise information on his death. According to popular belief, the Turks failed to break the defense line of the walls. However, someone from the inside betrayed them leaving the Kerkoporta open, so the Turks were able to enter the city and encircle the defenders.
The siege lasted three months and in the end Mehmed’s significantly stronger army conquered Constantinople on Tuesday, May 29, 1453. After the death of Constantine the Turks rushed through the city and pillaged the Byzantines’ property. A large number of citizens took refuge in Hagia Sophia, hoping to find safety there. The Turks, however, were able to break the main gate and rushed into the church where they slaughtered the crowd. On the day of the fall of Constantinople, the Sultan officially entered the city and went to Hagia Sophia, where he prayed. Then the Conqueror settled in imperial Blachernae palace.
The following video is a documentary by National Geographic, depicting the events that occurred during the siege and fall of Constantinople.