Istanbul which extends with one wing on the Asian side and the other on the European side, embraces both continents at once, is a city which conquers the hearts of its visitors with the Bosphorus, Historical Peninsula, Sultanahmet, Golden Horn and its magical atmosphere. Istanbul was firstly ruled by the Roman Empire, and then the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire and finally the Ottoman Empire. It became the capital city of the Ottoman Empire which created big peace between intercontinental geography. While the city carries the signs of its, honourable history, it is also moving toward a modern future. For centuries, residents or visitors which came for several reasons for a certain period of time are fascinated by the unlimited richness it presents. First of all it presents Istanbul is the holder of natural beauty and rich perspectives which are provided by the embracing of the Bosporus, the Golden Horn, the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea. After Istanbul, Anatolia follows as a great back country, which is a live commerce center, due to the reason that it is at a natural pier and intersects at a point where civilization is found. Worldwide products are gathered here and distributed to all around the world. The bazaars are always functional and there are always come and go to its waters. At the same time it is also a political center. For centuries Istanbul, has accommodated the world’s most great forces that have sat in its throne. It also has a present international political importance, but the most important of all is that people have equipped it with monuments and works of art for centuries. The museums are full of signs that belong to people which lived and are still living in this city. Churches, mosques and synagogues are located side by side and are monuments of peace of different beliefs. Altogether, Squares, streets, palaces, villas, mansions and modern buildings have sheltered countless legends and stories in them. While viewing the city with a sun set at the Bosporus shore, you will feel the quality that makes the city magical and your belief of Istanbul being “the City of the Center of the world” will boost up. The city’s most beautiful monuments are located between the Golden Horn, The Marmara Sea and the Istanbul city walls of the Historical Peninsula. The silhouettes of more than 500 mosque’s domes and minarets that rise to the top of Istanbul create a breath taking atmosphere. Some one who takes a look at the historical peninsula from the sea or Salacak seaside will feel as if they were in a dream from the past to the present. On one side The Sultanahmet Mosque which is also called “The Blue Mosque” because of its 6 minarets and blue ceramics that it has been decorated with, has became one of Istanbul’s symbols and makes you feel as if you were going to rise to the sky and on the other side the Famous Hagias Sophia Museum which was constructed as a church during the emperor Justinian period has an appearance that makes you feel as if you have striked roots with all of its heaviness to the sky. The opposite feeling that both of these structures awaken, you can discover the real effect of Istanbul. The Suleymaniye Mosque that views these two magnificent monuments is at the top of Ottoman architect.
Even though it has not came upon early foundlings in the area between the present Sarayburnu region and Topkapi district; the incoming foundlings that were discovered during a digging that was made between the Golden Horn and Asian side area, show that they belong to the period of the first settlements in the year 3000 B.C. As a response to this, Istanbul’s history core relates to the first settlement on the inner city walls, which is known as the historical peninsula region in the 7th century B.C. and was actualized as a Greek commerce colony city. The city’s acropolis (a region which consists of religious structures) which is mentioned as Byzantium was located on the area of the present Topkapi Palace. It owns a calm pier which is still presently used; it has very strong city walls which begin from the Golden Horn and surrounds the city and reaches to the Marmara Sea.
As a harbour and commerce city, Byzantium which continued life in during the Roman Empire era, was ruined after a 2 year siege in the late 2nd century A.C. after it was conquered by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. The city was enlarged and reconstructed and equipped.
After the emperor Constantine the Great arrived in the 4th century A.C., due to its strategic location, he began the works of taking the enlarged borders of Rome the capital of the Roman Empire moving it here. It took longer than 6 years for the city to be reorganized; the city walls were enlarged, several temples, official buildings, palaces, baths and a hippodrome was constructed. It was officially declared; that it was the new capital city of the Roman Empire on a big ceremony that took place on May 11 330. In the era that modern times began, the city was mentioned as Rome and New Rome, later on was mentioned as “Byzantium” and in the late period was named as Constantinopolis. All through out history the city’s name was mentioned as “Polis” among common people
The emperors after Constantine the Great also continued to make efforts in beautifying the city. The first churches in Istanbul began to be constructed in the year 324 A.C., after Constantine the Great accepted Christianity as the official religion. In the year 395 after the Roman Empire was separated in two, Istanbul remained as the capital city of the Roman Empire. After the collapse of the West Roman Empire in the 5th century, Roman civilization was in a transforming process and the East Roman Empire (Byzantine) gradually was under the effect of a Christian east and Helen Culture.
The city that was reconstructed in the Byzantine era was enlarged with the city walls again. The magnificent city walls that are 6492 m long were ordered to be constructed by Theodosius the II (408 – 450). In the 6th century the population exceeded half a million and gained another golden age, when it was in control of the emperor Justinianus. Hagia Sophia, one of the magnificent works of the history of architect, was constructed during this emperor’s period. The history after the Byzantine era and the capital Istanbul; palaces and church intrigues were full of Iran and Arabian attacks and the bloody fights between the families of the frequently changed emperors.
In the capital city that witnessed the first Arab Invasion in the year 673, the church domination reached to an exaggeration. The common public began to show respect by nearly worshiping the religious pictures fanatically. Emperor Leon the III made an imperial edict which consisted of the banning of respecting religious pictures after the increasing influence on the public by the church control. Consequently, all of the icons that were present, were destroyed and the “Offensive Icon Era” began, which banned all religious images. During this period, bloody struggles between image worshipers and those who were against it. In course of time, the offensive icon current weakened and was over in the year 842.
After this date, the empires brightest period was until the period of the Crusaders Invasion in Istanbul in the year 1204. During this period two different dynasties; the Macedonians and the Komnenons ruled. The Macedonians obtained power of economy and armies and their science and art movements improved. The Byzantine found their identification culture precisely during this period of time. The Komnenons protected the respectfulness of the Byzantines for a bout 100 years in due time. However, foreign danger of the east and west increased and the internal state began to get weak.
On top of this the 4th Crusader war was invited to Istanbul. The Crusaders which reached Istanbul during the years 1203-1204, pillaged the city due to the reason of not being able to receive the treasury promised to them and an Istanbul centered Latin nation was established. The period that was called the Latin Invasion, the Byzantine culture continued its actuality with certain princedoms established in Anatolia. During the year 1261, the Prince of Iznik the VIII., Mikhael Palaiologos, gained Istanbul back from the Latins and reestablished the Byzantine Empire. Together with the weakening of emperors during the sovereign of the Palaiologus dynasty, the constructions of magnificent structures in the capital city Istanbul continued. Finally the Byzantine Empire geography consisted only of Istanbul and its environment and the increasing effects of the Ottoman Empire in the region was seized after an Invasion that lasted 53 days in the year 1453 during the Mehmet the II period. Mehmet the II used enormous sized canons for the first time in war history and has a big role in going beyond the Istanbul walls.
The capital city of the Ottoman Empire moved here, foreigners brought from all over the country increase the population, the development works of the empty and ruined city began. The population which was 60 thousand during the conquest reached 600 thousand in the 16th century. The freedom of religion and social rights were given to the city’s old public, and they were provided to continue there lives. Due to the rights that Mehmet the II provided the Christian Orthodox Church’s Patriarchate is still present in original location. Istanbul also became the center of the Islamic world in the 16th century after the Ottoman Sultans became caliph.
Hereafter, from time to time events such as big fires and earthquakes marked Istanbul’s history; however, the city was secure under the control of the Ottomans and was protected from foreign dangers for a period of time. The city was completely reconstructed while it was under the control of the Ottoman sultans and consisted of a magical atmosphere. A century after the conquest Turkish art took over; domes and minarets were sovereign to the city’s silhouette. The region in which the old acropolis and the Byzantines Great Palace is located Topkapi Palace, Bosporus and Golden Horn is in control of a unique landscape.
The results of the loss of land in the defeat of the battle between the Ottoman Empire and west nations also effected Istanbul’s city structure, traditions and many other fields due to the reason that they gave most of their efforts in following west developments. The changing period which began in the Tulip Era gave importance to new settling regions such as the Bosporus. The westernizing period gained speed in the 19th century and institutional and technologic newness started to follow up. At the same time especially the Pera named present Beyoglu-Galata region in Istanbul was leaded by foreigners and non-muslims and became a European life style sovereign. In this period which the Ottomans gradually began to lose power, the Ottoman Dynasty moved from the Topkapi Palace to Dolmabahche Palace (1856) which reflected a west architect effect.
The first quarter of the 20th century witnessed the collapse of the Ottomans. The political disaster which came forward after the Balkan Battles and after that World War I had resulted after the invasion of Istanbul began. Once again Istanbul witnessed the ending of an empire.
The empire divided, and while domestic and foreign enemies struggled for their own interests, a noble commander of the Turkish army struggled for the Turkish Nation. The War of Liberation which continued for more than 4 years was under his command. This national hero’s name was Mustafa Kemal and as a result he has saved what was left of the Anatolian city’s that was in the Misak-i Milli borders and Istanbul was also saved from the invasion. Finally the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk took charge of the young republic of Turkey after the Ottoman Empire demolished. Ankara became the capital city of the laicism, democratic and modern Republic. However this did not make any changes in the importance that Istanbul carries. Depite everything, this unique city which consists of bent urbanization and sub case problems and has been continuously accepting immigrants for the last fifty years, continues to protect its magical appearance and historic structures with a modern identification altogether.www.ibb.gov.tr www.istanbul.gov.tr