From Academic Kids

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

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Shows the Location of the Province İstanbul
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Suleymaniye Mosque seen from Tepebaşı (January 2005)

Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul; contraction of the city's previous Greek name Constantinople) 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: Hali), in the northwest of the country. It is officially in both Europe and Asia, but is generally considered European. Its population is between 11 and 15 million people, making it, by some counts, one of the largest cities in Europe. Istanbul is located at 41°1'7" North, 28°57'53" East (41.018611, 28.964722). [1] (

Originally founded by Greek colonists as Byzantium, it was made the eastern capital of the Roman Empire in AD 324 by the Emperor Constantine; Byzantium was renamed 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 empire Constantinople became the sole capital of what historians now call the Byzantine Empire. This empire was distinctly Greek in culture and the centre of Greek Orthodox Christianity 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 is located in Istanbul until our days. 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 Istanbul.

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

The name Istanbul comes from the late Greek words stin Poli (στήν Πόλι), from Classical Greek eis tn Polin (εις τήν Πόλι(ν)) meaning "to/at the City" (the City/Polis being Constantinoupolis). 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 "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 enber → ember, 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 Qusţanţini/--yye, but the Ottomans used several additional names, e.g. Py-i taht, "the foot of the throne" (Persian); Asitane; and Islambol, "lots of Islam".


A more complete history is at Constantinople.

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Inside the Blue Mosque. (picture shot in March 2005)

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 Vee-za-ndeon.

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.

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

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.

During the Ottoman period the city went through a complete cultural change from an imperial Byzantine city to an Ottoman Islamic one. Aya sofia was converted to a Mosque as were several other churches in the city. Other Mosques were constucted 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 Istanbul), 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 Istanbul 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.

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

In the early years of the republic, Istanbul was overlooked in favour of the new capital Ankara, but during the 1950s-1960s Istanbul 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 violent anti-Greek riots organised by the Turkish police in the 1950's with most Greeks leaving their homes for Greece.

In the 1960's 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 Istanbul 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 Istanbul. Many Turks who have lived in Istanbul 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.

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Historical Peninsula, Istanbul. Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia can be seen in the aerial photo

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. A few of these are

Buildings and monuments

Markets, neighborhoods and places

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.[2] ([3] ( 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.[4] (


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


Main article: Public transport in Istanbul



Adalar, Avcılar, Bağcılar, Bahelievler, Bakırky, Bayrampaşa, Beşiktaş, Beyoğlu, Bykekmece, Beykoz, atalca, Eminn, Eyp, Esenler, Fatih, Gaziosmanpaşa, Gngren, Kadıky, Kağıthane, Kartal, Kkekmece, Maltepe, Pendik, Sarıyer, Silivri, Sultanbeyli, Şile, Şişli, Tuzla, mraniye, skdar, Zeytinburnu

Sister cities

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

See also


Istanbul as capital of...

External links

ca:Istanbul cs:Istanbul cy:Istanbul da:Istanbul de:Istanbul es:Estambul et:İstanbul fi:Istanbul fr:Istanbul he:איסטנבול hi:इस्तांबुल id:Istanbul it:Istanbul ja:イスタンブール nl:Istanboel no:Istanbul pl:Stambuł pt:Istambul ro:Istanbul ru:Стамбул simple:Istanbul sl:Istanbul sv:Istanbul tr:İstanbul uk:Стамбул zh:伊斯坦堡


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