Istanbul, Turkey. Image © Budilnikov Yuriy via Shutterstock
Byzantium, Constantinople and now Istanbul, the many names this city has had over the centuries are proof of the central role it has played throughout history. Founded by Greek settlers in the 7th century, the city served as an imperial capital for a cumulated period of over 1600 years. During the Roman/Byzantine, it played a crucial role in the advancement of Christianity before its transformation into an Islamic center and becoming the sear of the Ottoman Caliphate. Today, Istanbul is a vibrant city with a rich cultural scene and multiple historical layers to be discovered.
Straddling the Bosphorus strait, the city lies in both Europe and Asia, integrating architectural masterpieces that reflect the meeting of European and Asian cultures over the centuries. As the largest city in Turkey with a population of over 15 million residents, Istanbul also serves as the country’s economic, cultural, and historic center. Istanbul is the 15th largest city and the eighth most visited city in the world. The city is also home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.