Istanbul is a major city in Turkey that stretches from Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus. Its ancient city reflects the cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled here. In the Sultanahmet district, an open-air hippodrome from Roman times was for centuries the site of chariot races, and Egyptian obelisks have also survived. The famous Byzantine Hagia Sophia features a towering 6th-century dome and rare Christian mosaics.
It is believed that what is known as Asian Istanbul today, was inhabited since the third millennium BC. Eventually, the Greek colonists led by King Byzas established the colony of Byzantium, which is the Greek name for the city on the Bosphorus.…
Byzas chose this area after consulting a psychic at Delphi, who advised him to settle on the other side of the “land of the blind”. In fact, Byzas concluded that the early settlers had lost their sight due to their neglect of this wonderful site at the mouth of the Bosphorus. Byzas’ decision proved auspicious, as history has shown that the location of Istanbul was far more important than those early Greek settlers might have thought. The city was named after Byzas: Byzantium.
Byzantium became part of the Roman Empire at the beginning of the first century BC, and in 306 AD Emperor Constantine made it the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Since then, the city has been called Constantinople.
The middle of the fifth century AD was a period of enormous upheaval in the empire. The barbarians invaded the Western Roman Empire, while the Byzantine (Eastern) Empire kept Constantinople as its capital. The city was destroyed in 532 during the reign of Justinian I due to anti-government riots. It was reconstructed, and the magnificent buildings that still stand tall, such as the Hagia Sophia, are the best evidence of the greatness of the Byzantine civilization. The feature that made the city a desirable place is its exceptional location for trade and transport between three continents, but it was a disaster for it at the same time. The Persians, Arabs, Bedouin peoples, and part of the Fourth Crusade (who ruled the city for some time) attacked Constantinople over the subsequent hundreds of years.
Finally, in 1453, after Constantinople was weakened by almost continuous invasions and battles, the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II were able to conquer the city. They called it Istanbul and it became the third and last capital of the Ottoman Empire. The city was a major nerve center for the military campaigns that greatly expanded the borders of the Ottoman Empire.
Istanbul, with a population of nearly half a million, had by the sixteenth century become a major cultural, political and commercial center. The rule of the Ottomans continued until they were defeated in the First World War and Istanbul fell under the occupation of the Allies.
After the birth of the Turkish Republic in 1923 after the War of Independence, Kemal Ataturk moved the capital to the city of Ankara. Istanbul has continued its great expansion and its population is currently more than 13.6 million, with an estimated increase of seven hundred thousand immigrants annually. Industry expanded with the growth of tourism. It is still a city that wrote its own history at the meeting point of the two continents; Europe and Asia.
Here are some of the city’s interesting neighborhoods: Sultan Ahmed Wahid Pasha, Uskudar, Eyup, Galata, Beira, Ortakoy, Taksim, Eminonu, Fatih, Balat, and the Bosphorus. Princesses Quarter is a popular summer resort that locals flock to.