A brief history of Istanbul

You can see Istanbul's history at every turn.
You can see Istanbul's history at every turn.

It's thought that people inhabited the area now known as Istanbul from 3000 BC, but the city's real history began in 658 BC, with the appearance of Byzas from Megara. The Greek King founded a great city, calling it Byzantion, meaning 'The City of Byzas'. Thanks to its location and climate, the city grew rapidly and its people made a living from fishing.

Byzantion's power and position quickly gained the city enemies. The citizens spent years fending off the Thracian barbarians, and in 196 AD Byzantion was captured by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus, who made many improvements to the city - after sacking it first.

In 330, Constantine the Great declared the city as the capital of the Roman Empire, and named it after himself: Constantinople. He undertook huge construction works to make the city truly magnificent and reminiscent of Rome.

The city prospered under Roman rule until 395 when the sons of emperor Theodosius I divided the empire after his death. Constantinople became the new capital of the Byzantine Empire, and the city took on a Greek flavour. In its position at the centre of two continents, it had huge influence in trade, culture and politics, and became very wealthy.

Over hundreds of years the great city was attacked by troops from all over the Middle East, and was for a short time even ruled by the members of the Fourth Crusade, becoming the centre of the Catholic Latin Empire. Caught between the Byzantine and the Latin empires, the city began to suffer economically, and its population dwindled and became vulnerable to more attacks. During this time the city was captured by the Byzantine Emperor.

At the same time, the Ottoman Turks began capturing the cities around Constantinople, rendering it cut off from its neighbours. Eventually, the Ottomans captured the besieged and weakened city, which became the capital of the Ottoman Empire and was renamed Istanbul.

The Ottoman leader Sultan Mehmet began to rebuild the city. He created the Grand Bazaar, built several significant structures, opened schools, hospitals, mosques and public baths. He also encouraged a mixed population, and Muslim, Christian and Jewish populations lived peacefully together in the city.

The Ottoman Empire ruled Istanbul until it was occupied by the allies in World War I.

Istanbul became part of the Turkish Republic in 1923, but Ankara became the capital, and investors focussed on the central city, overlooking Istanbul. However, in the 1940s and 1950s, Istanbul began to blossom once more, with new squares, boulevards and avenues built.

Since the 1970s, Istanbul's population has grown rapidly, and the city has spread outwards, creating a huge and prosperous metropolis. In 1985 the city's historical monuments and areas were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. In 2010, in recognition of the city's huge cultural influence and spectacular history, Istanbul was named the European Capital of Culture by the European Union.

View properties in Istanbul

Distance to surrounding areas:

0km to
Istanbul City Centre

3 Bed Villa with pool - £1,000,000 / €1,130,000
2 Bed Apartment - £150,000 / €169,500
0km to

2 Bed Apartment - £150,000 / €169,500
3 Bed Villa with pool - £500,000 / €565,000
0km to
Istanbul Asian

2 Bed Apartment - £60,000 / €67,800
3 Bed Villa with pool - £300,000 / €339,000
0km to
Istanbul European

2 Bed Apartment - £75,000 / €84,750
3 Bed Villa with pool - £450,000 / €508,500

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