Istanbul’s location, which straddles Europe and Asia across the river Bosphorous, made the city a significant centre of culture and trade throughout history. Today, visitors can discover the city's unique history through the century's old art and architecture that still survives and characterises Istanbul.
Understanding the history of Istanbul
Istanbul’s history stretches back to ancient times. The city is believed to have been inhabited since 3000 BC, before becoming part of Byzantium in the 6th century BC. After being discovered by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in the 4th century AD, the city became known as Constantinople.
This name stuck for over 1000 years, and stood strong the city faced incursions from Persians, Arabs and many other invaders from foreign lands. However, in 1453, Constantinople was successfully taken by the Ottomans, after which it was renamed Istanbul and designated the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Istanbul since the Ottomans
The Ottomans ruled from Istanbul for over four centuries, developing it into one of the world’s major cultural and commercial cities. When the empire crumbled after World War I, the Republic of Turkey was born and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – Turkey’s first president – moved the capital city to Ankara.
In today’s Istanbul, travellers can explore many museums and monuments symbolic of its past, including the Haghia Sophia, a Byzantine marvel, and Topkapı Palace, the centre of the Ottoman administration.
But while people in Istanbul are proud of its history, this city is fiercely modern. In the 21st century, Istanbul has once again risen as a world cultural capital, with a vibrant atmosphere and fantastic nightlife. And with this unique blend of fascinating heritage and modern fun, Istanbul promises an unforgettable holiday experience.