Istanbul Images - Travel Information - Sarayburnu - Turkey Photo Guide

Istanbul, the Imperial City, City of Cities, City of Wonders and Desires, Abode of Felicity, Bridge between East and West.

There are not enough words to fully describe the magic and beauty of this ancient capital where East meets West, modernity confronts tradition, and Islam embraces Christianity. Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul no city had so many names and such a history.

As Constantinople, it was for 1,123 years the capital of the Byzantine Empire, famous for its splendour and treasures. The Greeks who lived here referred to it simply as "in the City", stin polis, and for them, no other name was needed for it. The name Constantinople itself conjured up images of wealth beyond the dreams of the petty kings and princes of medieval Europe. After being sacked by Western Crusaders in 1203, Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire never fully recovered.

In 1453, after the Ottoman Turks took the city under Mehmed the Conqueror, it was renamed Istanbul, derived from the Greek stin polis, and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Its bazaars now filled with the treasures from the East and the wealth of the Empire was used in the construction of magnificent mosques. Then, in 1923, after having been the capital of the Ottoman Empire for almost 500 years, Istanbul's role as a capital was over and Atatürk declared Ankara the capital of the new Turkish Republic. But still the remnants of its glory, the monuments and ruins of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires crown its hills on both sides of the Bosphorus. Although the Ottomans called the city İstanbul for centuries, it was not until 1930, seven years after Turkey gained independence, that İstanbul became its official name, replacing Constantinople definitely. Unfortunately, in the same process, it lost its place of capital to the more centrally located Ankara.

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