Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul. Three names, three powerful empires and a city with more history than you can imagine. Sounds like a trip for you? So, check this out...
The city is famous for its three names, even though it actually had a lot more than that. Let’s just say, these are the three most known or also the three official and therefore main names of now-Istanbul. The reason, why is because the other names of the city are mostly derived forms of the three mentioned names. Istanbul has known and heard so many languages and in each, the current name was written and spoken differently, which is why there are a lot of deductions.
Byzantium (660 BC-330 AD)
The city was founded 660 BC by Doric Greeks from Megara, Argos and Corinth. The name Byzantium was given by a man from Megara in Attika named Byzas, also known as the founder of the city, therefore the name ‘Byzantium’. The perfect location of the Greek colony Byzantine, directly on the coast of the Bosporus and right in between two continents, enabled the settlement soon to become an important center of trades. It belonged to the great Persian Empire, was a Colony of Sparta, after joined the Democracy and to the Delian League. The Empires and rulers changed many times, which you can see on the city’s architecture. After the fall of the Macedonian Empire Byzantium became roman confederate in 196 BC. In the year 324 AD the Roman Emperor Constantine the great got the absolute power over the Roman Empire and in 330 AD he renamed the city Byzantium to Nova Roma lit. ‘New Rome’.
Even though Constantine I. named the city ‘New Rome’, the people always intend to call the city Constantinople instead, which lit. means ‘the city of Constantine’. After his death in 337 the city’s name was officially changed into Constantinople.
The Roman Empire split 395 into two Empires, the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. So, Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. When the Western Roman Empire fell in the year 476 and turned into the deep medieval age, the Eastern Roman Empire and therefore Constantinople became the seat of the ancient culture. After 1453, when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, the city belonged to the Ottoman Empire and Constantinople was most known under the name Kostantiniyye or even Istanbul. During this time the religion changed from Christian into Islam, which is still the current Religion. Also, did the Ottoman Empire influence the architecture once again, especially several mosques shape the scape of Istanbul.
After the influence of the Ottomans and the new religion, the people started to call the Asian part of the city Istanbul or Islambul (إسلامبول) lit. ‘filled with Islam’, they changed the name officially from Constantinople to Istanbul in 1876 for both parts of the city, the one on the Asian continent and the part on the European continent.
After the Ottoman Empire and the last Sultan, the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923. Even though Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey, it is the main economic and the most populated city. It is a wonderful historian and diverse location, where you can see every epoch that took place in and every Empire that ruled over the city with the three names.
by Elena Kasper
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