Clockwise from top: View of the Golden Horn between Karaköy and Sarayburnu within the historic areas; Maiden's Tower; a nostalgic tram on İstiklal Avenue; Levent business district with Dolmabahçe Palace; Ortaköy Mosque in front of the Bosphorus Bridge; and Hagia Sophia.), historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural, and historic center.
Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosphorus strait (which separates Europe and Asia) between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.
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Founded under the name of Byzantium on the Sarayburnu promontory around 660 BCE, the city developed to become one of the most significant in history.
After its reestablishment as Constantinople in 330 CE, it served as an imperial capital for almost 16 centuries, during the Roman and Byzantine (330–12–1453), the Latin (1204–1261), and the Ottoman (1453–1922) empires.
It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times, before the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453 and transformed it into an Islamic stronghold and the seat of the Ottoman Caliphate.
rail networks to Europe and the Middle East, and the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have produced a cosmopolitan populace, although less so since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923.
By the 19th century, the city had acquired other names used by either foreigners or Turks.
Europeans used Constantinople to refer to the whole of the city, but used the name Stamboul—as the Turks also did—to describe the walled peninsula between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara.
Pera (from the Greek word for "across") was used to describe the area between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, but Turks also used the name Beyoğlu (today the official name for one of the city's constituent districts).
and is how Constantinople was referred to by the local Greeks.
Overlooked for the new capital Ankara during the interwar period, the city has since regained much of its prominence.