Greek: Κωνσταντινούπολις
Latin: Constantinopolis
Byzantine Constantinople-en.png
Map of Constantinople, corresponding to the modern-day Fatih district of Istanbul
Alternative nameByzantion (earlier Greek name), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse), Tsarigrad (Slavic), Basileuousa ("Queen of Cities"), Megalopolis ("the Great City")
LocationIstanbul, Istanbul Province, Turkey
Coordinates41°00′50″N 28°57′20″E / 41°00′50″N 28°57′20″E / 41.01389; 28.95556
TypeImperial city
Area6 km2 (2.3 sq mi) enclosed within Constantinian Walls14 km2 (5.4 sq mi) enclosed within Theodosian Walls
BuilderConstantine the Great
Founded11 May 330
PeriodsLate antiquity to Late Middle Ages
CulturesRoman, Byzantine
Timeline of Constantinople
Capital of the Byzantine Empire 395–1204 AD; 1261–1453 AD

Constantinople əl/[5] (Greek: Κωνσταντινούπολις, translit. Kōnstantinoúpolis (About this soundpronunciation ); Latin: Cōnstantīnopolis) was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul; the city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.

In 324 ancient Byzantium became the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was renamed, and dedicated on 11 May 330.[6] From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe.[7] The city became famous for its architectural masterpieces, such as Hagia Sophia, the cathedral of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the sacred Imperial Palace where the Emperors lived, the Galata Tower, the Hippodrome, the Golden Gate of the Land Walls, and the opulent aristocratic palaces lining the arcaded avenues and squares. The University of Constantinople was founded in the fifth century and contained numerous artistic and literary treasures before it was sacked in 1204 and 1453,[8] including its vast Imperial Library which contained the remnants of the Library of Alexandria and had over 100,000 volumes of ancient texts.[9] It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times as the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and as the guardian of Christendom's holiest relics such as the Crown of thorns and the True Cross.

Aerial view of Byzantine Constantinople and the Propontis (Sea of Marmara).

Constantinople was famed for its massive and complex defences. The first wall of the city was erected by Constantine I, and surrounded the city on both land and sea fronts. Later, in the 5th century, the Praetorian prefect Anthemius under the child emperor Theodosius II undertook the construction of the Theodosian Walls, which consisted of a double wall lying about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west of the first wall and a moat with palisades in front.[10] This formidable complex of defences was one of the most sophisticated of Antiquity. The city was built intentionally to rival Rome, and it was claimed that several elevations within its walls matched the 'seven hills' of Rome. Because it was located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara the land area that needed defensive walls was reduced, and this helped it to present an impregnable fortress enclosing magnificent palaces, domes, and towers, the result of the prosperity it achieved from being the gateway between two continents (Europe and Asia) and two seas (the Mediterranean and the Black Sea). Although besieged on numerous occasions by various armies, the defences of Constantinople proved impregnable for nearly nine hundred years.

In 1204, however, the armies of the Fourth Crusade took and devastated the city, and its inhabitants lived several decades under Latin misrule. In 1261 the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos liberated the city, and after the restoration under the Palaiologos dynasty, enjoyed a partial recovery. With the advent of the Ottoman Empire in 1299, the Byzantine Empire began to lose territories and the city began to lose population. By the early 15th century, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to just Constantinople and its environs, along with Morea in Greece, making it an enclave inside the Ottoman Empire; after a 53-day siege the city eventually fell to the Ottomans, led by Sultan Mehmed II, on 29 May 1453,[11] whereafter it replaced Edirne (Adrianople) as the new capital of the Ottoman Empire.[12]


Before Constantinople

According to Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, the first known name of a settlement on the site of Constantinople was Lygos,[13] a settlement likely of Thracian origin founded between the 13th and 11th centuries BC.[14] The site, according to the founding myth of the city, was abandoned by the time Greek settlers from the city-state of Megara founded Byzantium (Ancient Greek: Βυζάντιον, Byzántion) in around 657 BC,[15] across from the town of Chalcedon on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus.

The origins of the name of Byzantion, more commonly known by the later Latin Byzantium, are not entirely clear, though some suggest it is of Thraco-Illyrian origin.[16][17] The founding myth of the city has it told that the settlement was named after the leader of the Megarian colonists, Byzas. The later Byzantines of Constantinople themselves would maintain that the city was named in honour of two men, Byzas and Antes, though this was more likely just a play on the word Byzantion.[18]

The city was briefly renamed Augusta Antonina in the early 3rd century AD by the Emperor Septimius Severus (193–211), who razed the city to the ground in 196 for supporting a rival contender in the civil war and had it rebuilt in honour of his son Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (who succeeded him as Emperor), popularly known as Caracalla.[19][20] The name appears to have been quickly forgotten and abandoned, and the city reverted to Byzantium/Byzantion after either the assassination of Caracalla in 217 or, at the latest, the fall of the Severan dynasty in 235.

Names of Constantinople

This huge keystone found in Çemberlitaş, Fatih might have belonged to a triumphal arch at the Forum of Constantine; the forum was built by Constantine I in the quarter of modern-day Çemberlitaş.
The Column of Constantine, built by Constantine I in 330 to commemorate the establishment of Constantinople as the new capital of the Roman Empire.

Byzantium took on the name of Kōnstantinoupolis ("city of Constantine", Constantinople) after its refoundation under Roman emperor Constantine I, who transferred the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium in 330 and designated his new capital officially as Nova Roma (Νέα Ῥώμη) 'New Rome'. During this time, the city was also called 'Second Rome', 'Eastern Rome', and Roma Constantinopolitana.[21] As the city became the sole remaining capital of the Roman Empire after the fall of the West, and its wealth, population, and influence grew, the city also came to have a multitude of nicknames.

As the largest and wealthiest city in Europe during the 4th–13th centuries and a centre of culture and education of the Mediterranean basin, Constantinople came to be known by prestigious titles such as Basileuousa (Queen of Cities) and Megalopolis (the Great City) and was, in colloquial speech, commonly referred to as just Polis (ἡ Πόλις) 'the City' by Constantinopolitans and provincial Byzantines alike.[22]

In the language of other peoples, Constantinople was referred to just as reverently. The medieval Vikings, who had contacts with the empire through their expansion in eastern Europe (Varangians) used the Old Norse name Miklagarðr (from mikill 'big' and garðr 'city'), and later Miklagard and Miklagarth. In Arabic, the city was sometimes called Rūmiyyat al-Kubra (Great City of the Romans) and in Persian as Takht-e Rum (Throne of the Romans).

In East and South Slavic languages, including in medieval Russia, Constantinople has been referred to as Tsargrad (Царьград) or Carigrad, 'City of the Caesar (Emperor)', from the Slavonic words tsar ('Caesar' or 'King') and grad ('city'). This was presumably a calque on a Greek phrase such as Βασιλέως Πόλις (Vasileos Polis), 'the city of the emperor [king]'.

Modern names of the city

The modern Turkish name for the city, İstanbul, derives from the Greek phrase eis tin polin (εἰς τὴν πόλιν), meaning "(in)to the city".[23] This name was used in Turkish alongside Kostantiniyye, the more formal adaptation of the original Constantinople, during the period of Ottoman rule, while western languages mostly continued to refer to the city as Constantinople until the early 20th century. In 1928, the Turkish alphabet was changed from Arabic script to Latin script. After that, as part of the 1920s Turkification movement, Turkey started to urge other countries to use Turkish names for Turkish cities, instead of other transliterations to Latin script that had been used in Ottoman times.[24][25][26][27] In time the city came to be known as Istanbul and its variations in most world languages.

The name "Constantinople" is still used by members of the Eastern Orthodox Church in the title of one of their most important leaders, the Orthodox patriarch based in the city, referred to as "His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch." In Greece today, the city is still called Konstantinoúpoli(s) (Κωνσταντινούπολις/Κωνσταντινούπολη) or simply just "the City" (Η Πόλη).

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Konstantinopel
العربية: القسطنطينية
asturianu: Constantinopla
azərbaycanca: Konstantinopol
Bân-lâm-gú: Constantinopolis
беларуская: Канстанцінопаль
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Канстантынопаль
български: Константинопол
bosanski: Konstantinopolj
brezhoneg: Kergustentin
Чӑвашла: Кустантин
čeština: Konstantinopol
Cymraeg: Caergystennin
ދިވެހިބަސް: ޤުޞްޠަންޠީނިއްޔާ
español: Constantinopla
Esperanto: Konstantinopolo
فارسی: قسطنطنیه
français: Constantinople
Արեւմտահայերէն: Կոստանդնուպոլիս
Bahasa Indonesia: Konstantinopel
interlingua: Constantinopole
italiano: Costantinopoli
Kiswahili: Konstantinopoli
latviešu: Konstantinopole
Limburgs: Constantinopel
Lingua Franca Nova: Constantinopoli
la .lojban.: konstantinupolis
lumbaart: Costantinopel
македонски: Цариград
Bahasa Melayu: Constantinople
Nederlands: Constantinopel
Napulitano: Custantenobbule
Norfuk / Pitkern: Konstantinopel
norsk nynorsk: Konstantinopel
پنجابی: قسطنطنیہ
Plattdüütsch: Konstantinopel
português: Constantinopla
română: Constantinopol
Simple English: Constantinople
slovenščina: Konstantinopel
српски / srpski: Константинопољ
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Konstantinopolj
українська: Константинополь
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: كونىستانتىنوپول
Tiếng Việt: Constantinopolis