Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the country’s economic, cultural and historic center.
The city straddles the Bosphorus strait and lies in both Europe and Asia, with over 15 million residents, comprising 19% of the people of Turkey.
Istanbul is the most populous city in Europe and the world’s fifteenth-largest city.
Founded as Byzantion by Megarian colonists in 657 BCE, and renamed by Constantine the Great first as New Rome (Nova Roma) during the official dedication of the city as the new Roman capital in 330 CE, which he soon afterward changed as Constantinople (Constantinopolis), the town grew in size and influence, becoming a beacon of the Silk Road and one of the most important cities in history.
It served as an imperial capital for almost sixteen centuries, during the Roman/Byzantine (330–1204), Latin (1204–1261), Byzantine (1261–1453), and Ottoman (1453–1922) empires.
It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times, before its transformation to an Islamic stronghold following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 CE.
In 1923, after the Turkish War of Independence, Ankara replaced the city as the capital of the newly formed Republic of Turkey.
The city’s name was officially changed to Istanbul in 1930, an appellation Greek speakers used to refer to the city since the eleventh century colloquially.
Over 13.4 million foreign visitors came to Istanbul in 2018, eight years after it was named a European Capital of Culture, making the city the world’s fifth-most popular tourist destination. Istanbul is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and hosts the headquarters of numerous Turkish companies, accounting for more than thirty percent of the country’s economy.
The first known name of the city is Byzantium (Greek: Βυζάντιον, Byzántion), the name given to it at its foundation by Megarian colonists around 657 BCE. Megaran colonists claimed a direct line back to the city’s founders, Byzas, the son of the god Poseidon and the nymph Ceroëssa.
Modern excavations have raised the possibility that the name Byzantium might reflect the sites of native Thracian settlements that preceded the fully-fledged town.
Constantinople comes from the Latin name Constantinus, after Constantine the Great, the Roman emperor who refounded the city in 324 CE.
Constantinople remained the most common name for the city in the West until the 1930s, when Turkish authorities began to press for “Istanbul” in foreign languages.
Kostantiniyye (Ottoman Turkish: قسطنطينيه), Be Makam-e Qonstantiniyyah al-Mahmiyyah (meaning “the Protected Location of Constantinople”) and İstanbul were the names used alternatively by the Ottomans during their rule.
The name İstanbul (Turkish pronunciation: (listen), colloquially Turkish pronunciation: ) is commonly held to derive from the Medieval Greek phrase “εἰς τὴν Πόλιν” (pronounced Greek pronunciation: ), which means “to the city” and is how The local Greeks referred to Constantinople.
This reflected its status as the only major city in the vicinity. The importance of Constantinople in the Ottoman world was also reflected by its Ottoman nickname Der Saadet meaning the “Gate to Prosperity” in Ottoman Turkish.
An alternative view is that the name evolved directly from Constantinople, with the first and third syllables dropped.
Some Ottoman sources of the 17th century, such as Evliya Çelebi, describe it as the common Turkish name of the time; between the late 17th and late 18th centuries, it was also in official use.
The first use of the word Islambol on coinage was in 1730, during the reign of Sultan Mahmud I. In modern Turkish, the name is written as İstanbul, with a dotted İ, as the Turkish alphabet distinguishes between a dotted and dotless I. In English, the stress is on the first or last syllable, but it is on the second syllable (tan). A person from the city is an İstanbullu (plural: İstanbullular); Istanbulite is used in English.
Neolithic artifacts, uncovered by archeologists at the beginning of the 21st century, indicate that Istanbul’s historic peninsula was settled as far back as the 6th millennium BCE.
That early settlement, significant in the spread of the Neolithic Revolution from the Near East to Europe, lasted for almost a millennium before being inundated by rising water levels.
The first human settlement on the Asian side, the Fikirtepe mound, is from the Copper Age period, with artifacts dating from 5500 to 3500 BCE. On the European side, near the peninsula’s point (Sarayburnu), there was a Thracian settlement during the early 1st millennium BCE.
Modern authors have linked it to the Thracian toponym Lygos, mentioned by Pliny the Elder as an earlier name for the site of Byzantium.
The history of the city proper began around 660 BCE when Greek settlers from Megara established Byzantium on the European side of the Bosphorus. The settlers built an acropolis adjacent to the Golden Horn on the early Thracian settlements, fueling the nascent city’s economy.
The city experienced a brief period of Persian rule at the turn of the 5th century BCE, but the Greeks recaptured it during the Greco-Persian Wars. Byzantium then continued as part of the Athenian League and its successor, the Second Athenian League, before gaining independence in 355 BCE.
Long allied with the Romans, Byzantium officially became a part of the Roman Empire in 73 CE. Byzantium’s decision to side with the Roman usurper Pescennius Niger against Emperor Septimius Severus cost it dearly; by the time it surrendered at the end of 195 CE, two years of siege had left the city devastated. Five years later, Severus began to rebuild Byzantium, and the city regained—and, by some accounts, surpassed—its previous prosperity.
🏨 Hotels Near Istanbul
|DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Istanbul – Piyalepasa||📍 Kaptanpaşa, Kasımpaşa, Piyalepaşa Blv. No:5, 34440 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey||Beyoğlu||📞 +90 212 311 43 11||hilton.com/en/hotels/istikdi-doubletree-istanbul-piyalepasa/|
|Sofitel Istanbul Taksim||📍 Gümüşsuyu, Sıraselviler Cd. No:13, 34437 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey||Beyoğlu||📞 +90 212 435 33 33||all.accor.com/lien_externe.svlt|
|The Galata Istanbul Hotel – MGallery||📍 Azapkapı, Bankalar Cd. No:21, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey||Beyoğlu||📞 +90 212 317 34 00||all.accor.com/lien_externe.svlt|
|Rixos Pera İstanbul||📍 Meşrutiyet Cad. No:44, 34000 Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey||Beyoğlu||📞 +90 212 377 70 00||rixos.com/en/hotel-resort/rixos-pera-istanbul|
|Skalion Hotel & Spa||📍 Mimar Hayrettin, Çifte Gelinler Cd. No:6, 34130 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 517 51 35||skalionhotel.com/|
|The Marmara Taksim||📍 Gümüşsuyu, Osmanlı Sk. 1/B, 34437 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey||Beyoğlu||📞 +90 212 334 83 00||themarmarahotels.com/the-marmara-taksim-hotel.aspx|
|Holiday Inn Istanbul – Old City, an IHG Hotel||📍 Gencturk Cad. Sirvanizade Sok, Vezneciler Cd. No:5, 34134 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 528 18 65||ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/gb/en/istanbul/istod/hoteldetail|
|Hotel Perula Istanbul||📍 Binbirdirek, Peykhane Cd. No:45, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 517 12 05||hotelperula.com/|
|Golden Horn Hotel||📍 Hoca Paşa, Ebussuud Cd. No:44, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||📞 +90 212 519 74 74||thegoldenhorn.com/|
|Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus||📍 Harbiye, Cumhuriyet Cd. No:50, 34367 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey||Şişli||📞 +90 212 315 60 00||hilton.com/en/hotels/isthitw-hilton-istanbul-bosphorus/|
🎉 Tourist attractions Near Istanbul
|Gülhane Park||📍 Cankurtaran, Kennedy Cd., 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Park|
|Çiçek Pasajı||📍 Hüseyinağa Mah. İstiklal Cad. Saitpaşa Geçidi No:176, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey||Beyoğlu||Tourist attraction|
|Büyük Valide Han||📍 Mercan, Büyük Valide Han Mercan, Çakmakçılar Ykş. no: 31, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Tourist attraction|
|Madame Tussauds Istanbul||📍 Hüseyinağa, Grand Pera AVM, İstiklal Cd. no: 56 D:58, 34440 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey||Beyoğlu||Tourist attraction|
|Galata Tower||📍 Bereketzade, Galata Kulesi, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey||Beyoğlu||Historical landmark|
|Basilica Cistern||📍 Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Historical landmark|
|The Blue Mosque||📍 Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Mosque|
|Hagia Sophia||📍 Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Mosque|
|Topkapi Palace Museum||📍 Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Museum|
|Sultanahmet Square||📍 Binbirdirek, Sultan Ahmet Parkı No:2, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey||Fatih||Tourist attraction|