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Shows the Location of the Province Istanbul
Shows the Location of the Province Istanbul
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul

İstanbul (a Turkish contraction of Greek εις την πολιν "into the city", the former Constantinople, Κωνσταντινούπολις) is the largest city in Turkey, and arguably the most important. It is located on the Bosphorus strait, and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn (Turkish: Haliç), in the northwest of the country. It is officially located in both Europe and Asia, but is generally considered European, perhaps because its predecessor, Constantinople, was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Its 2000 Census population is 8,803,468 (city proper) and 10,018,735 (metropolitan area), making it, by some counts, one of the largest cities, in Europe. Census bureau estimate of 7/20/2005 is 11,322,000 for the city proper. İstanbul is located at 41° N′ 28″ E, ° {{{6}}}′ {{{7}}}″ {{{8}}}, and is the capital of İstanbul Province.

Originally founded by Greek colonists as Byzantium, it was made into the eastern capital of the Roman Empire in AD 324, by the Roman Emperor Constantine; Byzantium was re-named Nova Roma ("New Rome"), but this name failed to impress; and the city soon became known as Constantinople, "the City of Constantine". With the fall of Rome and the Western Roman Empire, Constantinople became the sole capital of what historians now call the Byzantine Empire. This empire was distinctly Greek in culture, and became the centre of Greek Orthodox Christianity after an earlier split with Rome, and was adorned with many impressive churches; including the once, world's-largest cathedral: Hagia Sophia. The seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, was located in what is now Istanbul. After the Fall of Constantinople to the invading Turks, in 1453, Constantinople became part of the Ottoman Empire and soon, its capital. Before the conquest, Turks called the city İstanbul, but officially used the name Qusţanţaniyyeh (قسطنطنيه), which means "City of Constantine" in Arabic. Only on March 28, 1930, was the city officially renamed İstanbul. This often causes confusion among foreigners, as illustrated by the song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" by The Four Lads.

Satellite image of Istanbul and the Bosporus
Satellite image of Istanbul and the Bosporus



 Thick, but fluid traffic driving down to the bridge across the Bosphorus (March 2005)
Thick, but fluid traffic driving down to the bridge across the Bosphorus (March 2005)

The name İstanbul comes from the Greek words eis tin Poli (pronounced IS TIN BOLI) and meaning "in the city" or "to the city", Constantinople being the largest city in the world (στήν Πόλι), from Classical Greek eis tên Polin (εις τήν Πόλι(ν)). The intermediate form Stamboul was commonly used by the Turks in the 19th century. Because of the custom of affixing an i before certain words that start with two consonants (as in "İzmir" from Smyrna: in a coincidence of s + m, the s turns to z in pronunciation as has been attested since early Byzantine times and in modern Greek usage), it was pronounced in Turkish İstambul. (The m in the middle is also the Turkish linguistic custom of changing the n before a p or b, as in çenber → çember, anbar → ambar, although rules like this are not always observed in proper nouns like İstanbul). Also in Greek an N before a P becomes an M, and the P after N becomes a B in pronunciation. Similar examples of modern Turkish town names derived from Greek are İzmit (from İznikmit which was Nicomedia and İznik (from Greek, Nicaea: "eis tin Nikaia" (pron. IS TIN NIKEA), becoming "ZNİK".

Arab writers called the city Qusţanţini/--yye, but the Ottomans used several additional names, e.g. Pây-i taht, "the foot of the throne" (Persian); Asitane; and Islambol, "lots of Islam".


İstanbul's Levent district
İstanbul's Levent district

Byzantium was the original name of the modern city of İstanbul. Byzantium was originally settled by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas. The name "Byzantium" is a transliteration of the original Greek name Βυζάντιον; (Demotic Modern Greek spells this υζάντιο, pronounced IPA /vi.ˈza.ⁿdjo/).

After siding with Pescennius Niger against the victorious Septimius Severus the city was besieged by Rome and suffered extensive damage in 196 AD. Byzantium was rebuilt by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus and quickly regained its previous prosperity. The location of Byzantium attracted Constantine the Great who, in 330 AD, refounded it as Nova Roma or Constantinoupolis after himself (Constantinople,Greek: Konstantinoupolis or Κωνσταντινούπολη or Κωνσταντινούπολις) after a prophetic dream was said to have identified the location of the city. The name Nova Roma never came into common use. The Eastern Roman Empire which had its capital in Constantinople from then until 1453, has often been called the Byzantine Empire or Byzantium by modern scholars.

The combination of imperialism and location would play an important role as the crossing point between two continents (Europe and Asia), and later a magnet for Africa and others as well, in terms of commerce, culture, diplomacy and strategy. At a strategic position, Constantinoupolis was able to control the route between Asia and Europe, as well as the passage from the Mediterranean Sea to the Efxinos Pontos (Black Sea).

Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. In Byzantine times the Greeks called Constantinople i Poli ("The City"), since it was the centre of the Greek world and for most of the Byzantine period the largest city in Europe. It was captured and sacked by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and then re-captured by Nicaean forces under the command of Michael VIII Palaeologus in 1261.

Yeni Camii (the New Mosque), one of the landmarks of İstanbul
Yeni Camii (the New Mosque), one of the landmarks of İstanbul

On May 29, 1453 the city fell to the Ottoman Turks (See the Fall of Constantinople) and was part of the Ottoman Empire until its official dissolution on November 1, 1922. The Ottoman Turks called the city Stamboul or İstanbul.

During the Ottoman period the city went through a complete cultural change from an imperial Byzantine city to an Ottoman Islamic one. Hagia Sophia was converted to a Mosque as were several other churches in the city. Other Mosques were constructed around the city, each Sultan having built a grand Mosque to commemorate his reign. Amongst these Mosques, the most impressive are; Beyazit Mosque, Suleymaniye (The largest Mosque in İstanbul), Sultan Ahmed Mosque (The first Friday sermon or "Khutba" in this Mosque was read by the Jelveti Sufi Sheikh Aziz Mahmud Hudayi) and Fatih Mosque.

The wives and mothers of the Sultans also contibuted to the construction of Mosques and several Mosques both on the European and Asian sides of the city have the name Valide Sultan Mosque to signify that they were constructed under the orders of the Sultans mother.

Sufi orders which were so widespread in the Islamic world and who had many followers who had activly participated in the conquest of the city came to settle in the capital. During Ottoman times over 100 Tekkes were active in İstanbul alone.

Many of these Tekkes survive to this day some in the form of Mosques while others as museums such as the Jerrahi Tekke in Fatih, the Sunbul Effendi and Ramazan Effendi Mosque and Turbes also in Fatih, the Galata Mevlevihane in Beyoglu, the Yahya Effendi Tekke in Besiktas and the Bektashi Tekke in Kadikoy which now serves Alevi Muslims as a Cem Evi.

Istanbul 1908 - Bulgarians
Istanbul 1908 - Bulgarians
Istanbul 1908 - Epirotes
Istanbul 1908 - Epirotes
Istanbul 1908 - Greeks
Istanbul 1908 - Greeks
Istanbul 1908 - Greeks and Epiphany
Istanbul 1908 - Greeks and Epiphany

When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the capital was moved from Constantinople to Ankara. İstanbul became the official name in 1930.

In the early years of the republic, İstanbul was overlooked in favour of the new capital Ankara, but during the 1950s-1960s İstanbul underwent great structural change. The city's once numerous and prosperous Greek community, remnants of the city's Greek origins, dwindled in the aftermath of the 1955 İstanbul Pogrom and most Greeks leaving their homes for Greece.

In the 1960s the government of Adnan Menderes sought to develop the country as a whole and new roads and factories were constructed throughout the country. Wide modern road were built in İstanbul but some, unfortunately, were at the expense of historical buildings within the city.

During the 1970s the population of Istanbul began to rapidly increase as people from Anatolia migrated to the city to find employment in the many new factories that were constructed on the outskirts of the city. This sudden sharp increase in the population caused a rapid rise in housing development (some of poor quality resulting in great death and injury during the frequent eathquakes that hit the city) and many previously outlying villages became engulfed into the greater metropolis of İstanbul. Many Turks who have lived in İstanbul for over 30 or more years can still recollect how areas such as large parts of Maltepe, Kartal, Pendik and others were green fields when they were young. Other areas such as Tuzla were nothing more than sleepy villages.

A more complete history of İstanbul before 1453 can be found at the Constantinople article.

Places to visit

Constantinople was a cultural and ethnic melting pot. As a result, there are many historical Mosques, Churches, Synagogues and Palaces to visit in the city.

Buildings and monuments

Eyup Sultan Cemetery view of Golden Horn
Eyup Sultan Cemetery view of Golden Horn

Markets, neighborhoods and places

The cross-continent European walking route E8 trail begins/ends here, running 4700km to Cork, Ireland.

Seismic risk

İstanbul is situated near the North Anatolian fault, an active fault which has been responsible for several deadly earthquakes in contemporary history. Studies show that there are high risks of a devastating earthquake near İstanbul in the coming decades.[1][2] The difficulties of imposing suitable building rules is likely to result in a large number of collapses, especially in cheap masonry dwellings.[3]


İstanbul holds a number of universities. Most are public, but recent years have seen an upsurge in private universities.

  1. Bahçeşehir University
  2. Beykent University
  3. Boğaziçi University (founded as Robert College)
  4. Deniz Harp Okulu (Naval Academy)
  5. Doğuş University
  6. Fatih University
  7. Galatasaray University
  8. Haliç University
  9. Hava Harp Okulu (Air Force Academy)
  10. Işık University
  11. İstanbul Bilgi University
  12. İstanbul Kültür University
  13. Istanbul Technical University
  14. İstanbul Ticaret University
  15. İstanbul University
  16. Kadir Has University
  17. Koç University
  18. Maltepe University
  19. Marmara University
  20. Okan University
  21. Sabancı University
  22. Yeditepe University
  23. Yıldız Technical University


Main article: Public transport in İstanbul




People coming to İstanbul can expect long, hot and humid summers and cold, rainy and snowy winters. The total precipitation for İstanbul averages 870 mm per year. The humidity of the city is constantly high which makes the air feel much harsher than the actual temperatures. The average maximum temperatures during the winter months vary between 03C and 08C. Contrary to common belief, snowfall is common and can be heavy, and can fall between in November and April. The summer months -- June through September - bring average daytime temperatures of 28 C degrees or higher. Despite summer being the driest season, rain is common and monsoon-like floods occur during that season.


Adalar, Avcılar, Bağcılar, Bahçelievler, Bakırköy, Bayrampaşa, Beşiktaş, Beyoğlu, Büyükçekmece, Beykoz, Çatalca, Eminönü, Eyüp, Esenler, Fatih, Gaziosmanpaşa, Güngören, Kadıköy, Kağıthane, Kartal, Küçükçekmece, Maltepe, Pendik, Sarıyer, Silivri, Sultanbeyli, Şile, Şişli, Tuzla, Ümraniye, Üsküdar, Zeytinburnu

Sister cities

İstanbul has 26 sister cities (aka "twin towns"):

See also


Istanbul as capital of...

Football Teams

Basketball Teams

External links

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