Thousands of people waving Turkish flags and cheering to Ottoman military music thronged the shores of Istanbul on Sunday to mark the 563rd anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul, then Constantinople, by the Ottomans.
Several activities – including an air show and a reenactment the conquest involving hundreds of actors and aided by a breath taking audio-visual display – kept the crowd enthralled for hours.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım were among the high-profile attendees of the event.
Addressing the crowd, Erdogan said even though the conquest of Istanbul took place 563 years ago, the implications of the event still linger on.
Touching upon the Syrian crisis, he said: "The Syrian regime, as well as DAESH and the PYD terror groups have become a trio supporting each other in Syria; one cannot survive without the others. Unfortunately, the countries we call allies are turning a blind eye to the situation, and even supporting it."
The military band of the Presidential Guard Regiment along with a 563-strong Ottoman military band, also known as a "Mehteran," also performed before the audience.
Actors dressed as Ottoman soldiers clashed with their foes on a three dimensional stage set up especially for the ceremony. The replication of the fall of the great walls before the Ottoman onslaught served as a captivating reminder of the cause of all the celebrations.
Five hundred and sixty-three years ago, an Ottoman army led by Sultan Mehmet II captured the "Queen of Cities,” effectively dissolving the last remnants of the Eastern Roman – also known as Byzantine – empire.
The conquest paved the way for the growth of the Ottoman Empire. It also affected the course of human history in ways which can still be seen today.