Istanbul History Timeline pictorial representation with city inspired graphics

Discover Istanbul and It’s AMAZING History

In this article and analysis of Istanbul we outline an Istanbul History Timeline of the city, and detail the main dates and events that have helped shape the city.

Also known historically as both Constantinople and Byzantium, this is a city with a rich history and thriving culture that spans over 2,500 years. 

Istanbul is located in the northwest of Turkey and is one of the most populous cities in Europe. 

This is a city that has been the capital of three empires: the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. 

Each of these empires has left its mark on the city, making it a melting pot of cultures and a must-see destination for history and culture enthusiasts.

We love Istanbul and we hope you enjoy this brief article on its wonderfully varied and remarkable history.

Istanbul’s First Inhabitants: The Greeks

Istanbul was first founded by the Greeks in the 7th century BC under the name of Byzantium. It was strategically located on the Bosporus strait, making it an important center for trade and commerce.

The original Greek settlers were led by their then King (Byzas) who and sought a new location for trade and commerce, as well as a new place to call home. They chose the location of Istanbul for its natural harbors and strategic location on the strait and thus the city was established.

Istanbul and the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire was one of the most powerful empires in history, and Istanbul was an important city within its borders.

The city, then known as Constantinople, was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in AD 324.

He chose the site for its strategic location, as it was a natural crossroads between Europe and Asia.

Constantine also built the famous Theodosian Walls around the city, which are still standing today and offer a glimpse into the city’s past.

Istanbul and the Byzantine Empire

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Constantinople became the capital of the Byzantine Empire.

The Byzantine Empire was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East and was known for its impressive art and architecture.

The most famous example of Byzantine architecture in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia. This architectural marvel was originally built as a cathedral in the 6th century and was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire.

For 86 years from 1935 it was Istanbul’s premier Museum. But in 2020 it was once again converted back into a working mosque and remains so to this day.

Istanbul’s Rise Under The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was the last empire to rule the city and is arguably the most important part of the Istanbul History Timeline,

It was one of the most powerful empires in history and its capital was Istanbul. The Ottoman Empire was known for its art, architecture, and culture.

Some of the most famous examples of Ottoman architecture in Istanbul include the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque. The Topkapi Palace was the residence of the Ottoman sultans and is now a museum that showcases the opulent lifestyle of the Ottoman elite.

The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is one of the most famous landmarks in Istanbul and is known for its blue tiles that adorn its interior.

Istanbul History Rimeline featuring the modern part of Istanbul in Taksim

Istanbul History Timeline | Major Istanbul Dates

3000BC | Early Settlement

 Archaeologists suggest that at least Asian Istanbul was inhabited by settlers from way back in 3000BC.

667BC | The Greeks Arrive

The city of Byzantium is founded by Greek colonists led by King Byzas who names the city after himself.

196AD | Romans Invade

The Roman Empire conquers Byzantium under Roman Emperor Septimius Severus.

330AD | Roman Capital

The Roman Emperor Constantine becomes a Christian and moves the capital of Rome to present day Istanbul where its known as “Nova Roma”.

337AD | Constantinople

The Roman Emperor Constantine dies and the city is named in honor of him.

360AD | Megale Ekklesia

The 1st version of a “mega church” is built to eventually become known as the Hagia Sophia.

537AD | Hagia Sophia

The  current Hagia Sophia is constructed under the rule of Emperor Justinian.

674AD | Arabs Attack

The first Arab attacks occur on the city of Constantinople.

1204 | Crusaders

Catholic Knight crusaders of the 4th campaign break the sea walls of Constantinople and sack the city.

1261 | Back to Byzantine

 The Byzantines re-take Constantinople from the crusader Catholics

1395 | Ottoman Fortification

Anatolian Fortress is built by Ottomans on the Asian side of Istanbul and is troop fortified.

1453 | Ottoman Conquest

Sultan Faith Mehmet II conquers Constantinople killing Constantine XI putting an end to the Eastern Roman Empire

1616 | Blue Mosque

Sultan Ahmet constructs Blue Mosque over original Byzantine Grand Palace

1914 – 1918 | War

Ottomans join the Central Powers in WWI and end up seriously weakened as a power in the losing side of the conflict.

1930 | Istanbul

The city is Officially named Istanbul.

1973 – East Meets West

The Bosphorus Bridge connects the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, marking the first bridge spanning the Bosporus strait.

1985 – UNESCO Recognized

The historic district of Sultanahmet in Istanbul is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

2013 – Marmaray Tunnel

The Marmaray Rail Tunnel, which runs beneath the Bosporus strait, opens to the public.

2020 – Hagia Sophia Mosque

The famous Hagia Sophia once again reverts back to a mosque after more than 80 years as a museum.

2023 – Modern Istanbul

Istanbul continues to forge ahead as a modern city and is the largest city in Europe.

Blue Istanbul City sign

Istanbul Through The Ages

Istanbul is a melting pot of cultures and a must-see destination for history and culture enthusiasts. From the Theodosian Walls to the Hagia Sophia and the modern skyscrapers of Taksim you can really feel the history in this magnificent city,

Istanbul has a wealth of historical and cultural landmarks that are sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.

We hope you enjoyed out take on the most important dates within the Istanbul History Timeline and we sincerely hope you’ll consider reading some more of our articles,

Have a great day!

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