Istanbul is one of the largest cities in Europe; its culture and history attract all kinds of people. Istanbul is the cultural, commercial and industrial capital of Turkey. Istanbul is a unique city located between Asia and Europe; it has a great history and an unmatched cultural richness. Museums, beautiful churches, palaces and mosques are the heritage of the first inhabitants and the fascination of the visitors.
Located between Europe and Asia, Istanbul has been the capital of three empires, desired and conquered by many peoples. The city is divided into three areas, the historic peninsula south of the Golden Horn and the Galata district located in Europe and the New City located in Asia. The constant disputes have created a history full of battles that has left an incomparable cultural legacy.
It was in the 7th century B.C. that a group of sailors from Megara, near Athens, led by Byzas, came to settle on the point now occupied by the Topkapi Seraglio. This arid promontory enjoyed an exceptional situation at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus strait, bathed in the south by the Sea of Marmara, in the north by the estuary of the Golden Horn. Opposite, however, on the Asian bank, other inhabitants of Megara had already founded Chalcedon, which today is Kadikoy.
History of Istanbul The Crusaders
The beginnings of Istanbul can be traced back to Asia in 680 BC. In the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, Istanbul was coveted by conquerors such as the Megaraños, the Persians and the governments of Athens, Sparta and Rome. Rome established an important government, with buildings of great importance. The Roman emperor Constantine established the government of Constantinople, and in 330, it was converted into the second capital of the Roman Empire and cradle of the Christian religion.
In 395, the Roman Empire was divided into two, a new era began with Emperor Justinian; this was the best period of this empire. From the beginning of the 5th century to the 7th century, the Arabs tried to conquer the city without success. In 1261, Constantinople was conquered by the Greeks.
In 1453, the Ottoman army conquered Constantinople. The city was named Istanbul and was the third capital of the Ottoman government. It was at this time that the mosques, madrassas and palaces were built. After independence in 1919, Ankara became the capital of Turkey, but Istanbul remained the commercial and cultural capital of Turkey and a major metropolitan city in Europe.
Byzantine Istanbul According to historians, the Megarians wanted to establish a colony. The city of Istanbul was founded by Byzas the Megarian in 667 BC. The first traces of human life in Istanbul are found in one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back 300,000 years. According to the excavations carried out in Kücükcekmece Lake in Yurimburgaz, the first traces of human life date back to the 6th century BC. Different cultures inhabited the caves in Europe and Asia.
These cultures were nomadic and semi-nomadic, with the past, subsistence was based on fishing, agriculture and livestock became the main activities. The first organized societies were dedicated to fishing and raising animals such as dogs, sheep, goats, cattle and pigs.
At the same time, almost in 660 BC, another group of Megarians founded a city at the present site of Sarayburnu, the Megarian settlers. They were impressed by its height and by the fact that it was naturally protected on three sides by the sea. They noticed Chalcedon, directly opposite Sarayburnu, on the other side of the Bosphorus. Over the years, Istanbul became a coveted territory for its strategic position.
The Ottoman Era
Ottoman – Istanbul The Ottoman Empire began with the appearance of the smallest Turkish state in Asia Minor. At the beginning of the 4th century. The Turks began their wave of conquests by taking vital areas of the Byzantine Empire such as Nicea and Brusa, commercial places and strategic crossroads between East and West. They established their capital in Brussels in 1326 and from there moved eastward.
The Ottoman Empire began in 1566. At that time, the Ottoman army was one of the largest and most durable empires of all time. At its peak was in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire contained 29 provinces and numerous vassal states, the territory of this empire consisted of southeastern Europe, western Asia, and North Africa.
When the death of Suleiman begins the decline of the Ottoman Empire in 1566, the janissaries gain power and successive rulers exert considerable influence and corruption allows the revelation of the citizens. The end of the Ottoman Empire comes with the first world war, the Ottomans and the allies lose the domain of Turkey. Then the Allies lost the power of Turkey with the Turkish nationalists.
The Mediterranean becomes a Turkish lake and Istanbul enjoys a considerable influence. Sultan Soliman attracted many artists to make his capital the most beautiful and richest of the time. In the middle of the XVIth century, the city counts 600 000 inhabitants.
The era of Constantinople
Constantinople – Istanbul Constantinople was the name of this era in honor of the emperor Constantine. Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire and one of the most influential cities of the time along with Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus or Thessaloniki.
The Byzantine Empire was founded in 395. During the Byzantine Empire, the Roman Emperor Constantine founded the city of New Rome or Constantinople Nova in his honor. The importance of Constantinople was the location, Istanbul was an important point of European control over the Asian, Mediterranean and European trade routes; this was the reason for several wars and conflicts
Arab armies in 674 and 678 intended to conquer the city In the middle of the century, the Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) underwent several changes and the government started to have problems. The barbarians invaded the borders and the citizens started to disobey the authorities. The Turkish domination took place on May 29, 1453. It was an event that shocked the European society.
This empire lasted for more than a thousand years and its territorial expansion extended to ancient Greece, the Danubian provinces, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The artistic heritage and architecture are the most important aspects of this culture. Its political and diplomatic tradition has been transmitted to other cultures.
The Republican Period
History of Istanbul Sculpture The Republican period produced the beginning of a new identity; Istanbul, the historical capital of Turkey, was one of the first cities to undergo radical changes during this period. The beginning of the Republican period was marked by the defeat of the Ottoman government and its allies in the First World War.
At the end of the First World War, the country was divided into two, the allies and the Turkish nationalists; the war of independence lasted 4 years, from 1919 to 1923, and the nationalists won. The sovereignty of the Republic of Turkey was recognized in the Treaty of Lausanne in Switzerland at the end of the Ottoman Empire, and Independence Day was established on 29 October 1923. The first president was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who was the leader of the Turkish national movement.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk started to work on the creation of a modern state. Mustafa Kemal set out to raise his country. He is one of those men who wrote history, one of the greatest figures of Turkey, a visionary of genius. He was able to impose a fundamental restructuring, tearing the nation away from its Ottoman dreams to project it into the 20th century. To modernize Turkey, he carried out a series of reforms: the separation of church and state, the abolition of polygamy, the introduction of civil marriage, the abolition of religious orders, the prohibition of wearing the fez, the institution of a new civil, commercial and penal code, the obligation to take a family name, the introduction of the Latin alphabet, the abandonment of Arabic writing, the equality of men and women, the right to vote for women.
Atatürk knew how to raise a real crusade for modernism and today he is revered as a god. The work of the “father of Turkey” is immense, aiming to modernize and secularize the nation by completely overturning its institutions, its structures and the mentality of the population.
Since then, Istanbul has developed a new identity, now the concept of Istanbul is modernity and progress. Nowadays, it is the commercial and economic center of Turkey. Business and tourism are the main economic activities of this city; Istanbul is the heart of Turkey as well as the cultural cradle of Europe and Asia, it is also becoming a first world country.
Today, the city has been modernized with the construction of bridges, water networks, the use of electric light, the introduction of tramways and telephones and its population is about 13 million. Its fantastic history and its permanent economic activity are linked to its location.