The first settlement was on the Anatolian side by Dorians of Megara (Greek city). Dorians have founded Khalkedon where Kadıköy rises today. On the 7th century BC another group under the command of legendary king Byzas advised to Delphi temple and asked where to establish their city. The answer of the seers has been "Across the Blinds' Country". Byzas evaluating this prophecy founded his city at a harbor on the European side of the Bosphorus just across Khalkedon (Blinds' Country) whereas the first comers couldn't "see" the beauties and suitable location of this place (maybe that is why their country is call Blinds' Country).
Having a real strategic location the city gained importance in a short time and occupied by Persians on the 6th century BC. II Philip of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great tried to besiege the city, however according to a legend the moon slipping away from the clouds exhibited the soldiers and this big danger has been put off. The new moon has been the symbol of the city since then.
During Roman period the city took side of Parthians who rebelled against Emperor Severus. And the Emperor besieged the city in the 2nd century AD and broke resistance. Then removed the ruins and had theatres, baths built besides the hippodrome and named the city as Augusto Antonio in the name of his son Caracalla who would be the future emperor of Rome.
Constantine announced the city "Nova Rome" as the new capital of the Empire in the 4th century. To cerate a city competing with the old capital of the Empire was along-run project. The city has been widened by this purpose. And the city was surrounded by a columned road passing through Adrianeapolis (Edirne) and Selanik and connected via Egnativa. Manu forums were located along he road (economic and administrative centers of the city). Again city walls have surrounded the new capital, ports have been built, and drains have been completed. Valens aqueduct and cisterns of that period are the remaining proofs of water project. The city then mentioned by the name of Emperor who started this project¸ Constantinople. The golden age of the city during Roman period was the 6th century, when Justinianus was the Emperor. The Greek originated dynasty got hold of the sovereignty during this period and the official language has been Greek and the Emperors begin to be called "Basileos".
By the way Latins were strengthening in Rome and this put these two strong
powers into an endless opposing. Crusaders took place in 11th century. Although
the first three had religious reasons, the goal of the forth was directly to
the Empire on the east and its wealth. The city ruined by Crusaders in 1204.
The treasures have been either plundered or melted to be used in minting. The
transfer of art works collected for centuries to the "West" has been
a great motivation for western art. The best example of it was the horse carriage
statues on San Marco square of Venice once adorning the Emperor box on the Hippodrome.
In 1261, the Byzantines (they define themselves as Romans, this name has given
to them by art historians much more later) got their city back. But the town
has long lost most of its magnificence.
Sultan Mehmet II besieged the city in 1453. He transferred his fleet to Haliç (Golden Horn) with an incredible trick and with the assistance of Janissary army he conquered the city. The Sultan named "Fatih" (Conqueror) afterwards. A small note on the subject: The giant cannon project that played an important role in the conquest had first been submitted to Byzantine Emperor Constantine. However the Emperor rejected this proposal as "a dead investment". Then Magyar Urban proposed this project to Sultan Mehmet II who has accepted!
The name of the city converted to Istanbul (as an analysis the name comes from a Greek expression "eis ton polin" meaning "towards to city"). Fatih gave back the privileges of minorities, recognized religion freedom and called several artists and intellectuals, and laid foundations of Istanbul as a "City of World". Turks, Greeks and Armenians formed the population of the city. The Ottomans stamped the town with their own compositions and architecture. Magnificent palaces, külliye (complex of buildings adjacent to mosques), mosques, pavilions, kiosk are all scattered over the city.
During the sovereignty of Sultan Süleyman, The Magnificent Ottoman Empire had its Golden Age and the features of Istanbul began to change. The art works of famous architect Mimar Sinan adorned the city. Consequently Istanbul as a capital of Christian and Moslem Empires became a unique place with peculiar effects of those periods.
After the decadence of Ottoman Empire following the I. World War and establishment
of Turkish Republic, Istanbul transferred its title as capital to Ankara.
However continued to be the biggest and the richest city of the country and
has its place among other world cities by hosting great organizations.
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Alexandre Vallaury - Architect Alexandre Vallaury was born into a Levantine family in İstanbul in 1850. Apart from the years he spent on architecture education in Paris, he lived in İstanbul for the rest of his life. more...
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