History and Archaeology of Istanbul

 

Istanbul

By the Editors of the Madain Project

Istanbul formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the most populous city in Turkey. Founded under the name of Byzantion (Βυζάντιον) on the Sarayburnu promontory around 660 BCE, it was reestablished as Constantinople in 330 CE, Ottomans conquered the city in 1453 CE and transformed it into an Islamic stronghold and the seat of the Ottoman Caliphate.

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Brief History of Istanbul

Istanbul, a city that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia, has a rich and multifaceted history that spans thousands of years. Originally founded as Byzantium, the city's origins can be traced back to the 7th century BCE. It became part of the Roman Empire in 196 CE and later served as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, known as Byzantium, until the city's reestablishment as Constantinople by Emperor Constantine the Great in 330 CE.

Throughout the Byzantine era, Constantinople flourished as a cultural and economic hub. The city's strategic location facilitated trade routes and cultural exchange between the East and the West. The Hagia Sophia, a monumental structure built during this period, stood as a symbol of Byzantine architectural and artistic achievement.

In 1453, Constantinople underwent a transformative moment when it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under the leadership of Mehmed II, marking the end of the Byzantine Empire. The city was subsequently renamed Istanbul and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Istanbul thrived as a center of commerce, culture, and Islamic civilization, showcasing the Ottoman architectural prowess through landmarks like the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.

The 20th century brought significant changes to Istanbul as the Ottoman Empire dissolved after World War I. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, established Ankara as the new capital in 1923. Istanbul, however, remained a vibrant cultural and economic center.

In recent decades, Istanbul has undergone rapid urbanization and modernization. The cityscape is a blend of historic sites and contemporary structures, reflecting its dynamic evolution. The Bosporus Strait, separating the European and Asian sides of the city, remains a vital maritime passage and a defining element of Istanbul's geography.

Today, Istanbul stands as a metropolis that bridges the ancient and the modern. Its diverse population, cultural heritage, and architectural marvels continue to attract millions of visitors annually. The city's history, encapsulated in its streets, monuments, and traditions, serves as a living testament to the layers of civilizations that have shaped Istanbul into the dynamic and cosmopolitan city it is today.

History of Istanbul

Archaeology in Istanbul

Featured Article Süleymaniye Complex

The Süleymaniye Complex (Turkish: Süleymaniye Külliyesi) is an Ottoman imperial mosque-mausoleum complex located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, Turkey. Süleymaniye Külliyesi is a multi-functional complex founded by Sultan Süleyman I in Istanbul. In terms of size and visual impact, the Süleymaniye represents the apex of Ottoman imperial architecture executed in the capital city. The complex is laid out on an irregular plot of land conforming to the topography of the site, which was terraced and uneven.

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Featured Article Yoros Castle

Located at the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, to the north of Joshua's Hill, in Istanbul, it is the last Byzantine castle standing in Turkey. Yoros also known as the Genoese Castle, it was intermittently occupied throughout the course of the Byzantine Empire. It was first conquered by Ottoman forces in 1305, but retaken by the Byzantines shortly thereafter. Bayezid I took the castle again in 1391 while preparing for his siege of Constantinople.

Explore the Yoros Castle

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