Istanbul History

Siege of Constantinople
Siege of Constantinople

The history books say that Istanbul was founded around 1000 BC, but some locals say it’s much older than that. After all 1000 BC was when Kings Solomon and David ruled Jerusalem, and local folklore spin tales that claim Semistra is much older than that. The first settlement was called Semistra. The fishing village of Lygos at Seraglio Point was born around the same time and it is now the home of the Topkapi Palace. Greek colonists arrive around 700 BC from Megara and they developed Chalcedon, which is now Kadıköy on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. History tells us that even back then the inhabitants pursued a better way of life that accented their humble fishing lifestyle. In 512 BC the emperor of Persia conquered the city, but the Persians retreated in 478 BC when the city was protected by the Greeks. That was a turbulent relationship. During one of the revolts the Athenian navy mounted an attack and founded the settlement at Chrysopolis, which is the present-day suburb of  Üsküdar. This Athenian base created the demise of Byzantium, which was the name given to the city by Byzas, the son of the nymph Keroessa and the god Poseidon. The Spartans took over the city in 404 BC, but were ousted in 390 BC when the city rejoined the Athenian league. It was granted independence in 355 BC, but stayed under Athenian rule until it formed an Alliance with the Roman Empire. The Roman emperor Constantine became emperor in 324 AD and he moved his headquarters to the shores of the Bosphorus. Constantine built walls around the old site of Byzantium and designed a magnificent city within those walls. A forum was built on the crest of a hill and the old Hippodrome was extended near what’s known as Nuruosmaniye Camii today. The city was renamed New Rome on May 11, 330, but that name didn’t stick; the city was immediately renamed Constantinople. The city survived the Crusades as well as a plethora of other battles through the centuries. The Ottoman Empire played an important part in the rich history of the city and so did Sultan Mehmed ll who conquered Constantinople in 1453 at the age of 21. That conquest officially ended the Byzantine Empire.