Istanbul, which is the most important city of Turkey, is undoubtedly one of the important cities of the world in terms of its location over the globe. Istanbul has developed on both sides of the Istanbul Strait, which separates Asia and Europe from each other and is one of the most important waterways of the world.
It has been the capital to Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman civilizations. Starting from the day when it came to the stage of history, Istanbul continues to be a world city; Geographical position, unique natural beauties and the richness of cultural heritage integrated with them, the love and peace of the whole humanity, not only the Turkish people, but also the whole world.
It can be said that there are many factors in protecting the superiority of Istanbul as a world city for many years. These are the facts that the city was founded on two sides of the Bosphorus, which links the countries along the Black Sea to the rest of the world. The second is that it has the Golden Horn, a natural harbor. The third is that it is located on the trade route connecting Europe with Asia through Iran and Iraq. The fourth is a transit center. The fifth is the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires over a period of two thousand years due to their natural beauties, their strategic location and their political importance.
Istanbul follows not only its historical, geographical location, geopolitical, population and covered area, but also its different culture and lifestyles. This cultural structure, which allows many puzzles, which seem to be opposite to each other, to coexist and even exist inside, is the product of a thousand years of accumulation. The foundations of present-day Istanbul were laid in the late period of the Roman Empire. Byzantine and Ottoman periods are the most important period in Istanbul’s history. In both empire periods, it protected the capital city of Istanbul and represented art and culture alone. In both periods it achieved its privilege of becoming a religious center and it remained the religious capital of both Christianity and Muslims. Although Ankara was the capital city during the Republican era, Istanbul continued to be a cultural capital.
Lygos is the oldest known name of Istanbul. This city, which is supposed to be built in the present Sarayburnu region, preserved its existence until the foundation of Byzantion. The city of Byzantion, founded in 660 BC, is based on Byzas, the founder of the colony. Until the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, the city was always called Byzantion. The name of the city was Nea Roma, the New Rome, during this reign period. After the death of Constantinus, the city was called Constantinopolis in honor of the emperor. The name of the city that the Crusaders called Stimpolis turned into Stimbol, Estambul and Istanbul. The Ottomans were named Istambol and Istanbul. It is known that the city was named Dersaadet, Acitane, Deraliyye and Darülhilafe in accordance with the titles of the sultan in the last period of the Ottomans.
The Historical Peninsula is the oldest part of Istanbul. The environment known as Sultanahmet Square is located at the western end of this historical peninsula. It is known that the city of Byzas was founded here. Because Istanbul has been the capital of various civilizations since ancient times, this region of the city has also been organized and developed as the center of the empires. Milion stone in front of Hagia Sophia was accepted as the starting point of the world. The main street of the city starts from here, the roads to the four corners of the world spread from here. Both Rome and the Byzantine Empire’s central buildings have always been concentrated in this region. For example, it was Hagia Sophia, the emperor’s palace and religious center. Sultanahmet Square also included the Hippodrome, where the most decisive social entertainment took place. During the Ottoman Empire, the character of being the center of the region did not change. The Sultans also built their palaces here. This region is chosen as the religious centers. Sultanahmet Mosque was built against Hagia Sophia. The hippodrome has also turned into the Square.
Pre-historic finds indicate that the first settlement in Istanbul is very old. Findings in Yarımburgaz Cave on the northern tip of Kucukcekmece Lake revealed that the cave had the first inhabitants of Istanbul and also used as shelter for the first Christians. The paintings on the walls are evidence of a settlement going back to ancient times. For the Palaeolithic people whose main occupation was hunting, fishing and gathering, the Yarımburgaz Cave had suitable conditions. But the most interesting aspect of the cave is that it gives findings about the Lower Palaeolithic. If this period is taken into consideration, it is understood that the first settlement in Yarımburgaz Cave went back to 1 million years.
According to the written description, the first settlers in Istanbul and its surroundings were Greek people, which the Illyrians continued from their places. After these immigrants who passed to Istanbul and Anatolia in 1200 BC, the Greek colonization movement started between 750-550 BC. The megalarians set up their first colonies under the leadership of Byzas where the present Sarayburnu hill was.
The Persians, who invaded western Anatolia in 513 BC, established the Thracian Satrap in the region by tying the native people who reside in Byzantion. The Greeks formed the Attica-Delos Maritime Union (478-477 BC) by establishing relations with the people in the islands and in Anatolia in order to resist Persians. The Union excelled in Thracia before Persians (476 BC), and then took over Byzantion. The revolts that started after a while led to the dissolution of the League, but the reign of the Greek commander Alkibiades was seized by the Bosphorus (410-409 BC). The capture of the Bosphores by the Athenians led Spartans to cooperate with the Persians, and Byzantion this time entered the sovereignty of the Isparta (405 BC).
The Athenian-Sparta dispute, eventually led to Alexander the Great invading Greece in 334 BC. Despite coming close to Byzantion, he passed through the Dardanelles Strait without entering the city and headed towards Anatolia. One of the rare places that Alexander did not conquer was Byzantion.
The Galatians living in Western Europe occupied the city at 278 BC and plundered it. Later on, Seleucid King Antiochus III and Macedonian King Philip V made a secret deal and sailed over Byzantion. Byzantions who understood that they could not resist these forces, the Romans called for help. In the 2nd century BC the Roman victory came and dominated Byzantion. Thus, the city became a free and federal city state connected to Rome. Pescennius Niger took the Byzantion to take possession of the eastern regions of the empire, but could not defeate the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Emperor Septimus Severus, plunder and slaughtered the people.
Byzantion, which remained under Roman rule until 395 AD, then belonged to East Rome and became known as the Byzantine.
Byzantium, which had been exposed to various societies until 1453, and many times Muslims were besieged by the Arabs, could not escape from the inevitable scepter and was conquered by Ottoman Sultan Fatih Sultan Mehmet on 29 May 1453.