I‘ve written a little before about this vibrant city. It has an incredibly rich history and is listed at the 5th largest tourist spot in the World. With a population of 14.1 million, it is the fifth largest city in the world by population. Wikipedia states: Istanbul is a transcontinental city, straddling the Bosphorus—one of the world’s busiest waterways—in northwestern Turkey, between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical centre lies in Europe, while a third of its population lives in Asia.
I have been to Istanbul about a half dozen times and fell in love with it right away, and I see it as a tempting place to retire. On our way to work in the mornings to the Consulate from the hotel, we travel along the water’s edge and see many people jogging, threading themselves through the men fishing on the docks. We always stop for coffee at a Starbucks which I am told, with its three levels facing the water, it was voted as the Starbucks with the most beautiful view. Haven’t been to too many of the Stores, but I can see how it is so well liked.
Archeologist found evidence of life as far back as 7000-6000 BC in that area. Again, Wikipedia: The same location was the site of a Phoenician trading post at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC as well as the town of Chalcedon, which was established around 680 BC…
However, the history of Istanbul generally begins around 660 BC, when Greek settlers from Megara established Byzantium on the European side of the Bosphorus.
As with all ancient cities, there were conquerors. The city experienced a brief period of Persian rule at the turn of the 5th century BC, but the Greeks recaptured it during the Greco-Persian Wars.
Byzantium then continued as part of the Athenian League and its successor, the Second Athenian Empire, before ultimately gaining independence in 355 BC. Long allied with the Romans, Byzantium officially became a part of the Roman Empire in 73 AD.
Constantine the Great, the ruler of the Roman Empire in 324 AD., converted the region to Christianity and changed the City’s name from Byzantium to Nea Roma (New Rome), but people began to call it Constantinople.
During the Middle Ages, the great city was the largest and wealthiest on the European Continent and at times the largest in the World. In the 14th Century, the Ottoman Turks slowly took over the region, and after an eight-week siege, the City fell. Sultan Mehmed II declared it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire, and the famous Hagia Sophia cathedral was converted into an imperial mosque.
Throughout the life of the City, it served as the capital of four empires: the Roman Empire (330–395), the Byzantine Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922)
I could continue with much more history of this beautiful city, but I’m running out of ink. But it was after the first World War, that British, French, and Italian occupied Istanbul. The final Ottoman sultan, Mehmed VI, was exiled in November 1922; the following year, the occupation of Istanbul ended with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne and the recognition of the Republic of Turkey, declared by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Today, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is known as the Father of Modern Turkey and is revered all through the country. Every shop you go in, you will notice pictures of him. On many buildings, you will see his image inside and out.
The last time I was there, I took these pictures of the Bosphorus Strait. I find it comforting to sit and watch the ships traverse through it. In the bottom image, you can see the Hagia Sophia and the famous Blue Mosque sitting on the peninsula to the right. This is a city rich in so many ways. Its history is as complex as the Jerusalem’s, and most likely many lives were lost in the conquest of this city was well. I look forward to going again.
Keep kicking. D.