istanbul-historyHotel Büyük Keban has been around for over 40 years, providing guests with unique insights into Istanbul’s past and present. In this spirit, we decided to give our online readers the opportunity to share our enthusiasm by providing information that inspires you to visit us and take it all in first hand.

An Ancient Settlement

What is now called Istanbul has been populated since Neolithic times, with the earliest settlement dating back to 6700 B.C.  We also know that the very first settlement on the Anatolian side goes back to the Copper Age, where artifacts have been found dating from 5500 to 3500 B.C.

Byzantium

Beginning as a Greek colony in 7th Century B.C known as Byzantium, the city began to grow on the site of a port settlement founded by Thracian tribes between the 13th and 11th centuries B.C. At that time, the Acropolis stood where the Topkapi Palace is now.

Constantinople

Byzantium fell to the Roman Republic in 196 A.D. and was renamed Constantinople after Constantine the Great. A capital now devoted to the Roman Empire, it favored Christianity and became a famed religious center. Later it became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire under the moniker of the Byzantine Empire, distinguishing it from the former Roman Empire.

The Influence of Emperor Justinian

After the city split with Rome, it became the center of Greek Orthodox Christianity and Greek culture, under the dominance of Byzantine emperor, Justinian. Erecting many great churches, including the Hagia Sophia, the years 527 to 565 saw the extension of the empire from Palestine to the tip of Spain, creating a great influence on the capital city.

The Influence of Sultan Mehmed II

Constantinople continued to thrive until 1204 when the Crusaders captured and ransacked the city. After a decline, it finally began a new life once again with the Muslim conquest in 1453. The city became the capital of the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Mehmed II “The Conqueror” who began a 53 day siege, entering the city through what is now the Topkapi Gate. Mehmed II subsequently turned the Hagia Sophia into a Turkish mosque, rebuilt the destroyed city, and created an atmosphere of tolerance as he invited Christians and Jews to settle alongside the predominant Muslim culture.

The Influence of Suleyman the Magnificent

Istanbul became the third capital of Ottoman Empire under Suleyman the Magnificent whose great achievements included the erection of stunning mosques and other buildings, along with the growth of the arts, including ceramics and calligraphy. During this period the city also became important diplomatic center, with many foreign embassies.

Modernization and Nationalism

Modernized from the 1870’s onward, the city enjoyed new bridges, a better water system, electricity, trams, and telephones. The war between Greece and Turkey in 1922 changed many things in Istanbul as it was a time of huge nationalistic sentiment, where many Greek and Armenian citizens moved away due to pressure. In 1923 the Republic of Turkey was founded and the capital moved to Ankara. In 1930, under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Istanbul became the official name of the city as implemented by a law under the International Postal Service.

The Positive and Negative

Istanbul enjoyed many new additions throughout the 1940’s and 50’s, including Taksim Square, but there were also unsettling elements disturbing the peace. The 1955 pogrom to remove Greeks and other foreigners caused many Greek businesses to close, along with those belonging to Jews, Armenians, and Georgians.

A Return to Balance

But Istanbul has always been a flexible city and in the 1970’s the population increased again, with the migration of Anatolians looking for work. This created more factories and ultimately began attracting people from all over the world, as the possibilities for growth expanded due to renewed tolerance and understanding. Today, Istanbul is an exciting international city, with Eastern and European customs abounding, making it one of the most popular destinations for travelers.

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With such a rich history, there are many sites of cultural and historical importance throughout the city of Istanbul. Begin planning your trip to Istanbul today and discover what secrets each site holds!