ISTANBUL’S HISTORY

Magnificent Istanbul’s magnificent history…

No one can resist Istanbul. Istanbul has always been a unique city throughout history with it’s 7 hills, it’s sea and the natural port the Golden Horn.  Istanbul’s rich history does not surprise after seeing such beauty.

Founding

Istanbul’s story is beautiful even from the start: Setting journey from Megara, Greece, Byzas has desire to found a new city. He goes and consults the oracle of Delphi on choosing a site. The oracle tells him to construct his city across from the “Land of the Blind”. Byzas set off with confusion and while gazing from today’s Sarayburnu to the past’s Khalkedon (Kadıköy), he thought to himself “Why have these blind built cities in the desert while this place is so beautiful?” . Then, of course, the words of the oracle of Delphi come to his mind. He has found where he will construct Istanbul.

Istanbul’s name

Istanbul was not named by the Ottomans, as it is usually thought. The name dates back to an even older source; it is a name of a person in the book Fütuh’üş-Şam of the 9th century. The Greek King Timaeus’ son Istanbul works to construct the city for four years during his reign. But the city is completed by Constantine, who takes his place. It is mentioned as Istinbolin in the 10th century book Tenbih (Mesudi). There is also a great deal of other data about Istanbul’s name; some which contradict others. Istanbul has been referred to with dozens of other names such as Byzantion, Constantinople, Konstantiniyye, Asitane, Darülhilafe and Dersaadet.

Ancient ages and the Byzantine Period

Istanbul’s history dates back around three hundred thousand years. It is thought that people used to live around the Küçükçekmece Lake during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic eras. Tools dating back to the Lower Palaeolithic Era were excavated in Dudullu, while some dating back to the Middle Palaeolithic Era and the Upper Palaeolithic Era were discovered around Ağaçlı. Ruins dating back to the Neolithic Period (6500 BC) were discovered during the excavations of the Marmaray immersed tube tunnel, some dating back to the Bronze Age (5500-3500 BC) were discovered in Fikirtepe while some ruins were discovered in Kadıköy  dating back to the Phoenicians.

As in the legend we told above, Byzantion is founded in 667 BC during King Byzas’s reign. The city was named after the son Septimius Severus, Augusta Antonina, for a short time during the reign of the Roman Empire in the city. The city is declared the capital city of the Roman Empire during the reign of Constantine I.  It is called Nova Roma for a while afterwards but is changed to Constantinople after the death of Constantine I in 337.

The Byzantine Period

This period started in 324 and continued till 1453. During this period, Istanbul became administrative headquarters to the Eastern Rome. The city was developed and expanded during this age with new architectural structures. A 100,000-person hippodrome (Sultanahmet square), ports and water facilities were built. After the construction of the world’s largest cathedral Hagia Sophia in 360, Constantine converted the religion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, giving start to the separation with the West, who still believed in Roman Paganism. The Byzantine Period starts with the death of Theodosius I. With the fall of Western Rome in 476, most of the Romans in Western Rome migrated to this area. And this is how the capital of the Byzantine Empire became Istanbul. The great plague that hit in 543 killed half of the population. Empire Justinian I rebuilt the city after the pandemic. Seized countless times during its history, Istanbul was looted during the Fourth Crusade and was ruined to bits. The period of the Romans comes to an end in 1261. After this period, the Byzantine Empire continues to shrink and Ottoman Empire starts to invade the lands in 1391.

The Ottoman Period

The legendary conquer happened on 29 May 1453. This date is also the end of the Middle Age. Istanbul rapidly develops during the Ottoman period. After the construction of hundreds of palaces, markets, mosques, schools and Turkish baths, Istanbul becomes one of the world’s largest cities where Jewish, Christians and Muslims live in harmony for 50 years.

It was transformed into a modern city with countless developments such as a bridge over the Golden Horn, a tunnel in Karaköy, railways, sea transportation in the city, municipalities and hospitals. It is occupied by Allied Powers in 1981.

The Republic Period

The 2500-year era, during which Istanbul was a capital city, ended on 29 October 1923 with the founding of the Republic. However, after this date, it was to take steady steps into becoming one of the most crowded and developed cities in the world in terms of economy and culture.

With its young population, Istanbul has played a great role in the modernisation of Turkey and today it has become a great city integrated with the rest of the world in many sectors. It is the first metropolitan to pop to mind when one thinks of qualified work force, culture and entertainment.

Today, Istanbul has 39 districts. 25 of these are located on the European side of the city while the other 14 are located on the Anatolian Side. Istanbul is one of the world’s largest metropolitans in terms of finance and population, being home to 14,160,467 people.

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