IstanbulIstanbul (formerly Constantinople and Byzantium) is the largest city of Turkey, and also one of the largest cities in Europe (although most of Turkey is not in Europe), with 11,000,000 inhabitants. Founded by the Roman emperor Constantine on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium, and called Constantinople after him (only on March 28, 1930, did the name Istanbul become official), it became the eastern capital of the Roman Empire and later the capital of the Byzantine Empire. After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 it became part of and soon capital of the Ottoman Empire.
The old city is mainly located on the Bosporus strait, which separates Europe from Asia and the Black Sea from the Marmara Sea. However, the modern city is much larger and covers both European and Asian sides of the Bosporus. Famous tourist places include Sariyer, Eyüp and Taksim on the European side, and Beykoz, Üsküdar, Kadiköy, Moda, Bostanci and Adalar (the Princes Islands) on the Asian side. Although Istanbul is no longer the capital of Turkey, it is still the major city in Turkey's industry, commerce and culture and the most important import and export center.
It is sometimes said that the name Istanbul comes from the Greek words stin poli which means "at the City". This is a historical myth. The name is merely a Turkish contraction of Constantinoupolis, with the Turkish article I on the front, just as Smyrna became Izmir and Nicaea became Iznik. The intermediate form Stamboul was commonly used in the 19th century.
For Istanbul cymbals, see Istanbul cymbals.