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Istanbul History, Turkey

Istanbul, the most populous and the largest city of Turkey, is a city that has seen a lot of history. This fact can be evidenced by the various changes of its name including the more popular former names of Byzantium and Constantinople. It is also cultural and financial center of the whole country. Found in the northwest end of the country, it is situated on the Bosphorous Straits and is home to the natural harbor of the Golden Horn. Its unique characteristic is that it is only city found in two continents: Europe and Asia. Although it is not the current capital, in the past it was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empire. For the year 2010, Istanbul has been chosen as the joint European Capital of Culture and has been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

The first settlement in the city was evidenced by the artifacts excavated in the Fikirtepe mound on the Anatolian side. They are from Copper Age dating from 5500-3500 BC. Byzantion, the older name of Istanbul, was established on the site of an ancient port settlement named Lygos. It was founded by Thracian tribes between the 13th and 11th centuries BC. In 196 AD, the city was captured by Romans giving the chance for Severus to rebuild the city to its previous glory, and prosperity. In 324, Constantine was interest in the city and he was able to capture it, leading to a unified Roman Empire. That led later to the city's proclamation as the capital of Roman Empire. Following the death of Theodosius, the Roman Empire was again divided under his two sons. Constantine, the head of the Eastern Roman Empire, proclaimed the city of Constantinople as its capital. In 1204, during the fourth crusade that supposed to be geared towards the recapturing of Jerusalem, they instead headed for Constantinople. On May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmed II 'the Conqueror' invaded and captured Constantinople after a 53 day war and proclaimed that the city as the new capital of his Ottoman Empire. This was a progress in the city with the opening of the Grand Bazaar for merchants and the freeing some prisoners. The Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the capital was moved from Istanbul to Ankara. With the new capital, the old city of Istanbul was somehow overlooked but with the effort to provide some structural changes in the city during the 1950's, it led to the birth of the booming city that is Istanbul now. Owing to its rich history and diverse culture, Istanbul is one sight to behold. It is a perfect mix of modernity with a touch of history, culture and heritage as evidenced by its choosing as the European Capital of Culture for 2010.

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  • SophiaHagia Sophia (Ayasofya)
    travel tip by Sophia posted more then 30 days ago
    One of the most beautiful architectural buildings, the Hagia Sophia, also known as Ayasofya, was originally built as a Christian (Byzantine) Church, but after the 16th century it has been converted into a mosque and nowadays serves as a...
  • TorontoguyTopkapi Palace
    travel tip by Torontoguy posted more then 30 days ago
    Used as the main residence for the Sultan Mehmet II, the Topkapi Palace now is such a major tourist attraction that it is almost very crowded. There are very many people, you have to queue to buy your ticket and sometimes you don't...
  • blackangel_66Sultanahmet - The Blue Mosque
    travel tip by blackangel_66 posted more then 30 days ago
    It's official name is Sultanahmet, after Ahmet I, who ordered it's construction. It is next to Hagia Sophia, but it's six minarets and cascading domes dominate the view of the city. There was some scandal, because only the Great...
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