Quick History of Istanbul

Istanbul cruise boats from Galata bridge

Istanbul was the capital of two of the greatest empires of not only their times but also in history: Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) and Ottoman Empire.

In 324 Istanbul became the capital of the Roman Empire after Emperor Constantin moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium (Istanbul). After the final division of the Roman Empire into West and East Roman Empires in 395 and the ending of the Western Roman Empire in 476, Istanbul became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, popularly known as the Byzantine Empire.

In year 361, Istanbul (Constantinople) was the world's most populous city with a population of 300,000. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.

In 1600, during the Ottoman period, between 400-700,000 people lived in Istanbul making it the world's second most populous city after Beijing. The population numbers are significant because they relate to power and wealth concentration at those times

Istanbul was also settled by Phoenician, Greek trade colonies from around 700 BC though there are few remains from these periods. Until the conquest of Istanbul by the Turks in 1453, there were also Genoese trade colonies in Istanbul whose major sites were Genoese tower and Yoros castle (in Anadolu Kavagi).

During your visit to Istanbul, you can see Greek, Roman (Byzantine), Genoese, Ottoman historic sights and ancient remains. See also Roman and Ottoman Empire Maps, neolithic discoveries.

English was Turkish
Ancient Genome Study Results as of March 2019 continue to support my theories: English was Turkish: Sumerian roots of Indo-European Languages


In 2008, excavations for the Marmaray undersea tunnel to cross the Bosphorus uncovered Neolithic installations proved Istanbul was inhabited 3500 years earlier than previously thought. The most interesting fact about the existence of Neolithic man in Istanbul is that they did not need any bridge, boat or a Marmaray undersea tunnel. They were actually crossing from Asia to Europe on foot as the Bosphorus straights which separates the two continents is only 5600 years old.


Besiktas archaeology burial

Image from TRT

An ancient site with burials and burial goods was discovered in 2017 during excavation works for a subway station in Besiktas. At first, the site was thought to date to around 1200 BC, but as of September 2018, the site is dated to early Bronze Age, 3500 BC. Many kurgan burials currently numbered at 70, and funerary urn type burials are found side by side, just like the Etruscans in Italy. Kurgans are Turkish burials spread from Siberia to Europe but Western scholars say they were used by Indo-European people, hence a common feature for ancient Turks and the ancestors of the Indo-Europeans.

Kurgans were not known to have existed in Turkey (Anatolia) until the discovery of a kurgan burial a couple of years ago, near a lake in Silivri, Istanbul about an hour drive from Besiktas . These are just amazing discoveries that will change history books.

Istanbul Bronze Age
Two terracotta figurines discovered in August 2018 suggest Besiktas burial site is reminiscent of the The Cucuteni-Trypillia culture found in Ukraine, Moldovia and Romania. This is very exciting because the archaeogenetics research paper published by Mathieson et. al. in 2017, The genomic history of southeastern Europe has shown genetic contact between the Cucuteni-Trypillia culture and Eurasian steppe populations dating back to 3600 BC. And we know that the earliest Kurgans date back to 4-5th milennium BC in the Caucasus and this burial practice most probably spread to the Steppes from the Caucasus. The figurines have marks that resemble Turkish tamgas known from Eurasian Steppes.

There are many questions that needs to be answered. One of the first questions that comes to mind: Did these people migrate to Istanbul from the North of the Black Sea or did they arrive from Eastern Anatolia, and the Caucasus? (News article in Turkish, Translation by Google Translate)

A similar question actually existed for the Etruscans, the founders of Rome, but latest research proves that Etruscans had migrated from Turkey to Italy.


Yoros Castle which is located in the Black sea entrance of the Bosphorus, now Anadolu Kavagi, was home to a Phoenician trade colony. Phoenicia was an ancient civilization in the Middle East (the region around Lebanon) and had established trade colonies all over the Mediterranean Sea and the Black sea due to their maritime skills. In fact Phoencians are known for their galleys, and man powered sailing vessels were. Thracian tribes had also made Istanbul their homes for short periods of time.


Greek colonists from Megara in Corinthion peninsula (near Athens) sailed and first settled in Chalchedon (modern Kadikoy) in the Asian side in 675 BC. About 16 years later Byzas a Greek colonist settled opposite from Calchedon. The legend has it that Chalcedon was the city of blind because they had settled in Kadikoy instead of the Golden Horn which was a natural port. Byzance was a trade colony as it was on the sea routes from Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Byzance was conquered by Roman Emperor Severus in 196 and became a Roman city. Serpentine column in Hippodrome built in 479BC dates back to Greek period in Istanbul.


Constantin the Great unified Eastern and Western Roman Empires which were divided 40 years earlier after winning the battle of Chrysopolis (Modern Uskudar, adjacent Kadikoy) against Roman Coemperor Licinius. Constantin moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Byzantium (Istanbul). He renamed the city Constantinopolis. So Istanbul had become the capital of the biggest empire of its time. He was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. He has built Great Imperial Palace and St. Irene the first Roman church in Istanbul. Istanbul would become the center of the Eastern Roman Empire also known as Byzantium.


In 1453 the Turks headed by Fatih Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror conquerod Byzantium. It was a turning point in European and World history. Istanbul continues to be a center of power in world stage until Suleyman the Magnificient, after his reign centuries long decline of the Ottoman Empire starts. Naturally, Istanbul is full of best examples of Ottoman architecture: Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii), Suleymaniye Mosque, Rustempasa Mosque and also Dolmabahce Palace and Beylerbeyi Palace, influenced by European art movements. The Grand Bazaar, castles of Anadoluhisari and Rumelihisari, wooden mansions along the Bopshorus and around the city are other prominent examples of Ottoman architecture.


Upon founding of the Turkish Republic, Ataturk moved the capital from Istanbul to Ankara which had become the operational and democratic center of the Independance War with a Turkish parliament making decisions in Ankara while the Ottoman Empire was occupied. Today Istanbul is the cultural center of Turkey, Emek Movie theater, Ataturk Cultural Center for music, opera and ballet, Sureyya Opera house are among the earliest buildings for making art accesible to all citizens. Istanbul Modern, Bosphorus bridge, Galata Bridge are also among the most important modern buildings.

Ataturk had shown that Sumerians, founders of the first advanced civilization on earth were ancient Turks from Central Asia. He had built his Sun Language Theory on this fact.

Amazon Kindle -

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle, Paperback