The city was
founded in the 4th century by the Roman emperor Constantine.
Constantine has recently rejoined the empire after Diocletion (see
pictures of Split in Croatia) has disastrously decided it was too big
for one man and split it into four quarter. Constantine was able to
conquer the other parts and reunite the empire. But Rome was now on the
edge of the empire threatened by the Ostrogoths, Visigoths and other
tribes. He decided to move his capital to the center of his empire. He
chose the strategically important site of the confluence of the Bosporus
and the Sea of Marmara which straddled Asia and Europe. At that location
was the Greek city of Byzantium, already then more than 1000 years old.
He rebuilt the town into the worlds greatest city eclipsing even Rome in
its prime. It became known as Constantinopolis or City of Constantine.
It became fabulously wealthy with giant palaces lining its streets and
the greatest churches and buildings all within a massive 20-mile system
of walls and fortifications. For 1000 years, the Byzantine empire was
the light of the world and from 300 AD until a disastrous defeat at
Manzikert in 1071 its most powerful empire. The end came in 1453
when Constantinople was besieged and fell to the 22-year old heir of the
rising Ottoman empire which for the next 300 years was the world's most
powerful empire. Istanbul ruled the world for most of 1300 years. It's
an amazing city.
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