The history of Istanbul

 Istanbul has a long history. The capital Constantinople emerged from the Greek colony of Byzantion under the Romans. Since the conquest by the Ottomans, the city has been called Istanbul.

660 BC

Greek settlers from Megara, a city in the west of Athens, found a colony called Chalcedon, based on the Asian side of the Bosphorus.

658 BC

Greeks from the same city found the Apoikia (outer settlement) Byzantion on the Golden Horn.

512 BC

The Persians conquer the Greek settlement of Byzantium.  

478 BC

The city is liberated by the Spartans.


The Roman Emperor Severus devastated the city in revenge, because Byzantion had supported his opponent in the succession to the throne.


Emperor Constantine renamed the city Constantinople and made it the capital of the Roman Empire.


After the division of the empire, Constantinople becomes the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.


Theodosius II had a new city wall built, which more than doubled the city area. Remnants of the land wall are still preserved.  


Justinian has 30,000 insurgent residents murdered in the hippodrome. 


Byzantium loses the decisive battle on Mount Ararat against the Seljuks. Turkic peoples then penetrate into Anatolia and displace the Greek culture.    


560,000 people live in Byzantium. 


The city is conquered by the crusaders on their way to Jerusalem.  


Byzantium was able to recapture the city, the Genoese traders built the city of Pera, today's district of Galata.


After an earthquake, the civil war and the plague, the population drops to 50,000.


The Ottomans conquer the city and make it the capital of their empire. The Ottomans rename the city Istanbul.


Since the Ottoman Empire hindered trade with Asia with very high tariffs, the Europeans looked for a new way to India. Columbus discovered America and Vasco da Gama reached India by sea around Africa in 1498. The monopoly of the Ottomans in the spice trade was broken.


Suleyman I called the "Magnificent" conquered the island of Rhodes.


The population increases again to over 500,000 people.


The Ottoman army is defeated by united European troops during the second siege of Vienna. The decline of the multinational Ottoman Empire is beginning.


More than 1 million people live in Istanbul. 


The Ottoman Empire is defeated and divided by the Allies. Greece occupied Asia Minor, but was defeated by Ataturk and his troops.       


Because Istanbul is now on the edge of the new Turkey and to distance itself from the Ottoman EmpireAnkarais chosen as the new national capital.     


After the two world wars, the city's population rose again to over 1 million people.


The first bridge over the Bosporus is completed.


The second bridge over the Bosphorus is opened.  


An earthquake kills 45,000 people in the Marmara region. Istanbul has 8.8 million inhabitants. 


Istanbul is the European Capital of Culture.  


The railway tunnel under the Bosporus is opened.


10 German tourists are killed in a bomb attack. The Islamist suicide bomber blew herself up on Sultan Ahmed Square. In another attack on the shopping street Istiklal Caddesi, people die by an IS bombing attac. A coup attempt by the Turkish military against Erdogan fails on June 15. In Istanbul, the Bosphorus Bridge was blocked with tanks. Erdogan uses the coup to free himself from political opponents. Hundreds of thousands end up in prison or lose their jobs after the coup. Erdogan describes the coup as a gift from heaven.     


39 people died in a terrorist attack on the night club "Reina" in Ortaköy on New Year's Eve. Erdogan suffers a major defeat at the constitutional referendum intended to make Erdogan sole ruler of Turkey. He can only achieve a slim majority of 51% with the help of unauthorized ballot papers. Turkey is finally saying goodbye to democracy. The majority of Istanbul's citizens voted against Erdogan. Tourism in Istanbul is collapsing. Turkey's economic output (GDP) has fallen by 10% since 2013 (source: statista).

2021Over 15 million people live in Istanbul.
 Sven Müller




History of Istanbul