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This article is about the city. For Istanbul brand cymbals, see Istanbul cymbals.

Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul) is the largest city in Turkey, and arguably the most important and by far the most beautiful. 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 in both Europe and Asia, but is generally considered European. The city is also the administrative capital of Istanbul Province, but is not the capital of Turkey (Ankara). Its population is between 11 and 15 million people, making it, by some counts, one of the largest cities in Europe.

Founded by Greek colonists as Byzantium, the Roman emperor Constantine renamed the city as Constantinople, after himself. After the Roman Empire split in two, it became the capital of the eastern half, known as the Byzantine Empire. After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 it 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 Istanbul.


Etymology of the name

The name Istanbul comes from the late Greek words stin Poli (στήν Πόλι), from Classical Greek eis tên Polin (εις τήν Πόλι(ν)) meaning "to/at the City" (the City/Polis being Constantinoupolis). The intermediate form Stamboul was commonly used in the 19th century. Because of the custom of affixing an i before certain words that start with two consonants (as in "Izmir" 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 Istambul. (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 Istanbul). Similar examples of modern Turkish town names derived from Greek are İzmit (from Iznikmit which was Nicomedia and İznik (from Nicaea).

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


Byzantium was the original name of the modern city of Istanbul. Byzantium was originally settled by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas. The name "Byzantium" is a Latinization of the original Greek name Byzantion (Βυζάντιον), pronounced roughly Booz-dan-tee-on.

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 Euxinos 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.

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 Istanbul. Since then it has remained a part of the Republic of Turkey.

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

Places to visit

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

Seismic risk

Istanbul 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 Istanbul in the coming decades.[1][2] The proximity of the Marmara sea also indicates high risks of a tsunami should an earthquake occur. The difficulties of imposing suitable building rules is likely to result in a large number of collapses, especially in cheap masonry dwellings.[3]




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

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

See also


Istanbul as capital of...

External links

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