Istanbul: the city of the world’s desire

by Edel Cassidy

A city with timeless charm, Istanbul owes much of its rich history to the rise and fall of the world’s most famous empires and to its location as a meeting place between continents and traditions.

Istanbul is a natural gateway between the continents of Europe and Asia, enjoying easy access to Africa, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Balkans. The city’s position as a nexus between three continents has made it very important strategically for many rulers and empires, who constantly attacked and besieged it over the centuries.

Originally known as Byzantion (later Latinised to Byzantium), the city was founded in the seventh century BC by the ancient Greek colonist Byzas the Megarian, from whom it took its name, and it continued to flourish as a centre of trade and commerce under the rule of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Following his death in AD 337, it was renamed Constantinople and continued as the seat of the Byzantine Empire until the mid fifteenth century. 

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