“Sultan of Cities”…

No other city has ever been worthy of this definition as Istanbul. With many properties like its natural beauty, geographic position, strategic location, being a host to ancient civilizations, its history, military significance, commercial function, being a religion center, having a political role, its social structure, demographic richness, cultural variety, scientific, cultural and judicial background, intellectual medium, architectural monuments, being a capital city, the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and Marmara!...

Istanbul is the “City of Empires and Sultans”… It served as a capital city for major empires that had shaped the world history such as Roman, Eastern Roman/Byzantine and Ottoman empires for 1600 years (330-1923) and has earned the title of the longest-lasting capital of the world. No other city has ever hosted such a long list of empires/sultans as Istanbul. 95 Roman/Byzantine empires and 30 Ottoman sultans ruled in this city.

Istanbul is called “Payitaht-ı Zemin / The Center of the Universe.” This is mainly based on being positioned around the Bosphorus as well as containing the beginning and ending points of the East and the West within its boundaries. Due to its geopolitical position and military, political and religious influence, it is nicknamed as “Belde-i tayyibe/Holy town” and “Ümmü’d-dünya / Mother of the World” which are descriptions that emphasize the position of Istanbul.

Starting out as a city state in the stage of history and continuing its journey as a capital city of empires, Istanbul is one of the most important and transformative civilization centers which offers an insight not just to the past, but to the future of humanity with its founding, constructing and surrounding identity, its character that contains different experiences and its ancient tradition.

Istanbul is the first capital city of Christians. Istanbul was planned and developed by the first Christian empire, Constantine the Great, as the capital city of the first Christian empire and still contains the ancient and magnificent monumental structures of the religion, Hagia Sophia being in particular. It hosted significant events of the Christian history, was the foundation center of Orthodoxy, which is one of the two most important sects, and is home to its patriarchate.

For Muslims, Istanbul has been a holy target, whose conquer was harbingered and its conqueror and army was praised by the Prophet Muhammed, and a city that had served as a “center of caliphate” /Dârü’l-hilâfeti’l-aliyye to Muslims for 400 years. No other city except Jerusalem was held sacred as this city by the members of two religions.

Even though not for as long as Muslims and Christians, Istanbul has also a distinct importance for Jews. Istanbul has been a center where the Jews could freely live their faith and were protected when they were rejected by Spain, Portugal and other European countries where they were forced to convert and the ones who refused were slain or banished.

Having obtained the richest religious and ethnical diversity of the world by enriching the collection of people it had taken over with new participations and offered people of all backgrounds to live in their own environments, Ottoman Istanbul was accepted as the “Shelter of the World” due to its demographic richness, the events it witnessed and hosted, cultural variety, the freedom it offered to people of different beliefs to live and express their identities freely contrary to the prominent settlement centers of Europe which were involved in religion and sect disagreements for centuries.

No other city that have emerged in history before, at the same time as or after Istanbul can compete with its legacy and efficiency. Which metropolis have a profound history of thousands of years? According to Yarımburgaz excavations, history of the immediate surroundings of Istanbul dates back to B.C. 800’s. Also, according to the excavations made in Yenikapı during Marmaray construction works, settlement history of Suriçi Istanbul (Istanbul within the city walls) itself dates back 8500 years. In the light of these findings, Istanbul becomes prominent as one of the oldest settlements where human activity has been sustained.

Many important settlement centers which had a high population, served as a capital city or constituted early examples of planned urbanization are popular for their archaeological, historical and touristic features today. On the other hand, Istanbul has a special position compared to its contemporaries or successors due to its profound history, efficient continuity and works of art. Same continuity could not be maintained by cities that might be compared to Istanbul or existed in the history stage in the Roman period such as Venice, Genova, Rome, Sicily, Alexandria, Antioch, Beirut, Baghdad and Nicaea (İznik). This also applies for the cities that could be compared to Ottoman Istanbul in terms of their past and future. London, Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Lisbon, Rome… Aleppo, Damascus, Alexandria, Cairo, Baghdad, Esfahan…

Istanbul has always maintained its efficient continuity and even though it stumbled in the early 15th century and changed position in the first half of the 20th century, it started to rise again in the second half and earned back its rightful position among world metropolises. This proves that Istanbul, which have always preserved its dynamic structure, will continue to rise from the ashes and have a role in the civilization concept of the future as well as in the civilization background of the past.

Even the list of the names that are used to describe Istanbul reflect its richness, historical function, position, variety, culture and belief climate, perception by different societies and boldness. The oldest name of the city in the recorded history is Byzantion, then it was named as Secunda Roma/Second Rome and Nova Roma/New Rome when it became the imperial capital of Rome Empire in 330. Arabs call it Rûmiyyetü’l-kübrâ/the Great Rome, Taht-ı Rûm/Throne of Rome and Gulgule-i Rûm/Boisterous Rome. In Persian-Urdu language, Istanbul is called Taht-ı Rûm/Throne of Rome, Kayser-i Zemin/Caesar of the World. After being a capital, the city was commonly called Constantinople after its founder Constantine the Great. For Muslims like Arabs and Ottomans, the equivalent of this name was Qustantiniyya, which was mentioned by the Prophet Mohammed in his Conquest hadith. This name was used in official correspondences, literature and coins nearly until the end of Ottoman Empire. According to the new studies, the claim that the name Istanbul, which dates back to written sources of the 10th century and became widespread after Ottoman’s conquest, had derived from Constantinople and that it was based on the generally-accepted pattern “is-tin-polis” (=city) is just a convenient “fantasy.” At times, these names were accompanied by the word “İslambol”, meaning “a place with abundant Muslims”, which was invented in Istanbul and even attributed to Mehmed the Conqueror. The word “İslambol” was seen in some official records in 15th century and impressed on coins by some Ottoman sultans. Again, Hasretü’l-mülûk (Yearning of Rulers), Payitaht-ı Saltanat (Capital of the Sultanate), Tahtgâh-ı Saltanat (Abode of the Throne), Makarr-ı Saltanat (Center of the Sultanate), Darü’s-Saltanat-ı Aliyye (Abode of the Great Sultanate), Dârü’l-hilafe (Abode of the Caliph), Dârü’n-nasr (Abode of Triumph), Medînetü’l-muvahhidîn (City of Believers), Deraliyye (Abode of the State), Mahrûse-i Saltanat (Great City of the Sultanate), Dergâh-ı Muallâ (The Big Gate), Südde-i Saâdet (Threshold of Felicity), Dersaâdet (Gate of Felicity), Âsitâne (Threshold) are some of the names and titles used by Ottomans.

Although Europeans replaced the name “Constantinople” with “Turkople” when Turks acquired Istanbul, this new name was not used by its new inhabitants. Istanbul has also different names in various languages except for the aforementioned ones. The city is named Miklagrad that means “great city” among the Scandinavians; Tsargrad/Carigrad by the Slavs, that means “The City of the Czar” and Vasileos Polis by the Greeks which have the same meaning; and Kustandina/ Kostan by the Hebrews. In the 17th century, Evliya Çelebi offered a long list of alternate names for Istanbul to his readers which were used by different nations and showed the historical perception and richness of the city.

Turning its owners into imperial powers, Istanbul is also the “City that Protects the State” as it was in Byzantine Empire between 14th and 15th centuries and in Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. In accordance with the judgment “He who owns Istanbul, owns the whole world”, the dominant powers tried to avoid the city to change hands in order to keep the balance. On the other hand, Istanbul is a city which is believed to be under the wings of “holy protection” and where this belief has turned into titles that are intended as prayers. The most common of these titles are “Mahmiye-i İstanbul” or “Mahrûse-i İstanbul” that means protected by Allah.

Despite its long list of alternate names, its inhabitants had been calling it “the city.” Until recently, Istanbulites were asking each other this question: “Have you been to the city today?” Because it is the capital of empires. The most advanced institutions, huge buildings and monumental temples are here. This is a place that represents politics, religion and culture. It is a settlement where life fully goes on in terms of aesthetics purposes, human relations, laws, traditions, infrastructure, opportunities and life standard. It is a great center of power and civilization. For that reason, this was a city whose name did not need to be mentioned, so “city” meant Istanbul, “city dweller” meant Istanbulites for everyone! And today, there is only one name: Istanbul.

Serving as a center where many developments that shaped the modern world have occurred, Istanbul has always been a city that is demanded, maybe desired the most, and dreamt to be acquired by armies and sultans throughout the history. Told by men of letters, travelers, scholars, historians and researches in their best written works, Istanbul has a characteristic quality of being a “subject” city throughout the history. In other words, it has a role that leads the future, perspective and life style of its inhabitants. Even if it had short-term rises and falls in its long history, it has always been a center of gravity which has revealed its presence in the world stage. Istanbul is a center where history has been experienced and created; that has hosted and witnessed many events that influenced the course of history and left a mark in the history of the world.

Thus, cities and historical events that have a role of a “subject” or an “agent” should be repeatedly handled, understood and conveyed by every new generation and under every new mentality in the historical context. Rewriting an integrative history of Istanbul, which started off with Rome, but continued its position as a center of long-term empires with Eastern Rome/Byzantine and Ottoman, is also a preliminary step in writing a world history based on Istanbul that has been frequently discussed. Writing the history of Istanbul is not just putting forth the history of a city. It is also enlightening a centuries-old background and turning points of mankind. As writing the world history is a sign of mental and socio-political assertion, writing a long history of a city, particularly Istanbul is also an assertive approach in itself.

There are many sources and researches in relation to the long history of Istanbul. However, instead of being pieces that makes up a whole, they are written works that were prepared for different reasons and purposes and that offer sections from the history of the city. On the other hand, a few Istanbul monographs are limited studies in terms of volume and scope. We have thousands of works that offer significant contributions to the history of the city with various information and commentaries, but appear as disorganized and pieced. This fact required that an extensive history of the city be written with all of its aspects.

Given the number of written histories of the big world cities, insufficiency of the works that handle Istanbul in its historical entirety stands out more. There are dozens of great city histories about New York, which is now a metropolis with a few hundred years of history, but cannot even be compared to Istanbul in terms of historical background and activities. For instance, Pulitzer-winning book Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (Oxford 2000) written by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace and published by Oxford University is approximately 1500 pages and actually tells the 200-year history of the city. Similarly, a 3-volume book called A History of Chicago (Bessie Louise Pierce, Chicago University, Chicago 1937) which tells the history of a very new city, Chicago, was written in what may be considered at an early time. London, which became renowned around the world in 17th century has a 6-volume history book called History of London (Secker and Warburg, London 1971) that was published 45 years ago. There is also a book about London that is called Survey of London which is being written since 1900 and reached up to 45 volumes. Rome, Athens, Beijing, Paris, Cairo and some other cities have also quite voluminous histories in their own languages. Several cities have histories written in encyclopedic style, which means in articles.

This book, History of Istanbul from Antiquity to the 21st Century, is the most voluminous and extensive work in its field due to the fact that it handles all historical periods of the city. Yet, it should be considered as a humble first step compared to the great historical background of Istanbul. As understood much better during preparation of this work, Istanbul is a city that requires more detailed written work.

It is very challenging to write the history of a city that has such a deep history as Istanbul; particularly one with this much open-ended and interconnected themes. In order to do this, organizational skills, planning capacity, provision of opportunities and expertise as well as utilization of recommendations and sample studies that may be used as a model in terms of content and format were required. First thing to do in a study like this was to determine the method and model of handling the long history of Istanbul. Because, the resulting work cannot be expected to provide the desired contribution unless an accurate method is determined. For this reason, the most underlined matters during the preparation process of the Great Istanbul History were principles and method. Preliminary preparations of this process was carried out by Yunus Uğur, who is a member of our publication board, and was evaluated extensively by our publication board. Our chapter managers and members of the science board were all consulted and in accordance with the opinions and recommendations of several experts, principles and the method to be followed in order to prepare an original written work were determined. Consequently, the discussions and recommendations in this process have offered significant contribution to both writing of this book and the city histories in Turkey in general.

When writing the history of Istanbul, the answer to “Which principles should be adopted?” was determined as follows: Istanbul will be handled as a “subject”, which means an “agent” city, and its history will be analyzed in interaction with histories of states and societies; its history will be covered from the very beginning; its position among other world cities will be set forth comparatively for every period, especially the effects of the themes discussed in city historiography will be studied specifically for Istanbul; life and relationships in the city will be handled within the context of time and location and the work will have a writing style that will be suitable for readers from different levels.

After these general principles, we discussed the method of writing about a period of time as long as the history of Istanbul. Two methods stood out during this process: The first one was prioritizing the timeline and writing the events and selected subjects in accordance with the historical process. The strength of this method is writing the history of Istanbul chronologically from its foundation to this day according to the periods in order to understand the historical integrity. On the other hand, weaknesses of this method that emphasizes periodicity is failure to form a thematic integrity, especially in a book with multiple writers; possibility to skip some subjects without even mentioning them and most importantly, making it difficult to understand the long-term culture and daily life of the city by ignoring its thematic continuities that exceed different periods.

The second method is prioritizing the themes and writing historical periods/timeline in accordance with specific conditions, continuities and interruptions of each theme. Even though both methods present the risk of separating the periods based on political history, which is entailed by long-term history writing, such risk was lower in the thematic approach. This method was accepted as more probable since it allowed delivering the relevant subject with its different aspects and with more integrative approach. Thus, this writing method was preferred in History of Istanbul from Antiquity to the 21st Century since it further allowed to follow the continuities and changes in the history of the city and as a result, a thematic city history was prepared.

This study, which was prepared with a thematic approach, was written in articles. The details that will bring clarity to the subjects which could not be sufficiently discussed in main articles were analyzed thoroughly in boxed texts and marginal notes.

In writing of History of Istanbul from Antiquity to the 21st Century, traditions of modern city-history writing and Ottoman city-history writing were both taken into consideration and main chapters were determined in this order:

Imperial Transformations of Istanbul

Istanbul in the Global Scale

Topography and Settlement

Politics and Administration





Transportation and Communication


Culture and Arts


Science and Technology


Istanbul in Memories

These chapters were followed by Chronology of Istanbul and Bibliography of Istanbul.

Even though three main periods that have determined the identity of the city and been turning points in its historical course were taken as basis in formation of chronologies within each theme, different or in-between transitional periods were also set for some themes. The main periods are Byzantine, Ottoman and Republic periods.

After foundation of Istanbul by Constantine the Great, the second decisive change in the history of the city is certainly the conquest by the Ottomans. In that period, Istanbul assumed a new identity and representation capability in terms of its ownership, administration, dominant civilization, faith and architecture. Even though there is not an identifying transition between Republican and Ottoman periods like the one between Byzantine and Ottoman periods, Republican period was handled as a third period due to the fact that the city lost its status as a capital, became distant from the center of administrative structuring, even pushed to the background for several reasons and due to the general course of demographic, political, political, social, economic, scientific and technological developments.

Pre-Ottoman period of Istanbul has been subject to various definitions and discussions. These discussions still continue and cause different choices with different motives: Such as Roman, Eastern Roman and Byzantine Istanbul… Even though the “Byzantine” description emerged in later periods, it had become widespread between 18th and 19th centuries, particularly in defining the Eastern Rome, and started to be used by large populations. Therefore, keeping the intended reader in mind, the name “Byzantine” was preferred in editorial choices of this work. However, in the articles, single naming was not preferred and writers’ own naming choices were respected.

Each theme was divided into periods by taking its own continuities and changes into account. Ancient ages, Byzantine, Ottoman and Republican periods were not handled as absolute separation points. Differences of three main periods were discussed and handicaps of sharp period divisions were taken into account. By taking transitions into account and implementing thematic approach, three chronological periods were adopted. In addition, pre-Roman period of Istanbul was also analyzed, however given the long history of the city and due to the insufficiency of information, sources and definitive developments of the ancient agent compared to other three periods, it was not handled as a separate period-based part.

In the planning of each theme, their own priorities and continuities were taken into account. However, it does not mean that each theme is independent from others in absolute terms. For instance, while natural disasters were handled in terms of their influence on the physical structure of the city in Topography and Settlement chapter, they were handled in terms of their influence on the city life in Society chapter. So, a single event that happened on a specific date was handled in two chapters according to its priority related to the relevant chapter. Again, in Byzantine and Ottoman societies, religion and society had an indisputably intertwined relationship and it is not possible to restrict it with today’s mentality. Thus, separability of these two subjects in history was one of the most discussed points during determination of the themes. Again, no matter which subject is handled, whether it is politics, economics, arts, diplomacy or ceremonies etc., it can be seen that religion had a more definitive role on society, especially in Ottoman Istanbul. Handling religion and other subjects completely apart from each other or excluding one or the other will lead to both an erroneous historical reading and a basic problem of reaching incomplete or inaccurate results. Society chapter has also intersecting subjects with Religion, Politics and Administration chapters. Similarly, there are strong ties between Economics and Demography and Transportation and Communication chapters or Architecture, Economics, Society and Politics chapters. The same situation applies for more specific subjects. For instance, the articles named “Long Century of Istanbul: World and Turkey” included in the chapter of Istanbul in the Global Scale and “View on Contemporary Cities and Planning of Istanbul From Late Ottoman Period to the Republican Period” and “Architecture in Istanbul in the Republican Period” included in the chapter of Architecture have contents that further enrichen and complement the chapter of Imperial Transformations of Istanbul. Therefore, the subjects were classified according to the theme they are more relevant to rather than via sharp separations. The readers should take this fact into account.

During preparation of the work, in addition to the scientific style, utilization of a style that is appropriate for general readers was also considered important. The aim was to use a fluent, gripping and strong language in the History of Istanbul which may become a text book/source that could be used in the courses about Istanbul in Turkey and abroad in addition to being a reference for other studies in its area in terms of information, method and content.

Writers were encouraged to make a direct connection between the subject of the articles and the city life; to convey the basic fundamentals and general course of the matter; to avoid going into discussions and details, to reflect new findings, current scientific results and generally-accepted facts; not to use footnotes unless they are absolutely necessary, not to turn the footnotes into a pile of bibliography, to refer to the latest publications and main sources and to specify the written work that were utilized other than the ones in the footnotes under the title of bibliography. However, their choices were not intervened. Even though listing the entire utilized work specified in the footnotes under the bibliography part is a common practice, we included just the written works not specified in the footnotes under the bibliography parts at the end of the articles in order to avoid a heavy volume and save from printing and paper.

The texts in the book are defined under three groups. These are:

1- Articles: They are the main texts of the book. Following an introduction about the framework and chapters of the relevant subject, pioneering and current information with relevant generally-accepted facts were given and then some questions and discussions were dealt with. It was paid attention to focus on Istanbul as a city and handle the subjects from aspects that are directly related to Istanbul. While the well-known themes, concepts, places and people about the subject are mentioned in the articles, discussions that have been reduced to the individuals and that only concerns the experts were avoided and general readers were taken as a standard.

2- Boxed texts: Important subjects that are briefly mentioned in the main articles or not mentioned at all, but that need to be paid attention to were moved to boxed texts and presented to the readers with a design that is distinguishable from the main article.

3- Marginal Notes: They are quotations from source texts to clarify the main subject and presented to the readers with a design that is distinguishable from the articles and boxed texts.

The work that is divided into thirteen thematic main chapters is being published in 10 volumes. Since there is a detailed assessment in the introduction part of each chapter except for the first one, a general assessment about the chapters will be sufficient here.

The 1st volume of History of Istanbul from Antiquity to the 21st Century consists of three chapters: Imperial Transformations of Istanbul, Istanbul in the Global Scale, Topography and Settlement.

Imperial Transformations of Istanbul, which was planned as the introduction of the book, focuses on major transformations and depressions of the city in political, mental, social, religious and public works areas. Narrated and praised as a city state in the historical arena, Istanbul’s imperial transformation had started when it was established as a rival and alternative capital against Rome of the Roman Empire, continued with Ottomans and maintained its unofficial, but actual assertion with the Republic of Turkey. As the foundation and implementation center of the world views and politics of the empires that had spread across three continents, Istanbul is a city that have ruled the widest area for the longest period of time in geographic, politic and religious terms. It has maintained its function as the center of a wide geography for centuries due to its actual, political, religious, economic and military influence that has reached all the way to Balkans, Eastern Europe, Africa, Middle East, Western Asia, Black Sea steps, India and other transoceanic regions.

This chapter begins with Halil İnalcık’s article named “Istanbul of Mehmed the Conqueror.” This choice is a sign of respect and gratitude of the board of publication and editors to the writer for his position in the world historiography and his contributions to the history of Istanbul. The most rooted imperial change of Istanbul, which has gone through major transformations and developments throughout its long history, is the conquest of the city by Ottomans. The article focuses on the major transformation of Istanbul and role of Mehmed the Conqueror in it following this event which had fundamentally changed the character, representation capacity and values of Istanbul.

Briefly mentioning the contacts of Ottomans with the city and the conquest, Halil İnalcık initially studies the demography, housing and building stocks of Istanbul and how these were utilized in the light of cadastral record books of Istanbul and Galata. Afterwards, he handles the public works activities of the Conqueror, Istanbul’s Bedesten and Grand Bazaar, the külliyes (a social complex) which provide architectural transformation and shape the visual identity of the city, its administrational structuring, neighborhoods and development of population, spreading of its settlements, its religious and cultural texture, its safety, settlement of people from different faiths and the relationships between social layers, infrastructural works, house types, Turkish and other spoken languages in the city, its trade activities and human groups. In his boxed text titled “Galata,” he tells the advancement of this region under Ottoman administration. So, this great Ottoman historian portrays the reflection of the efforts of Mehmed the Conqueror and his successors to bring back Istanbul, which had fallen into ruins by Latin occupation and could not catch its old glory again, on the world stage by multiple activities carried out in the city immediately after the conquest.

The second article of the chapter is called “Subject City of Civilization Blend: Istanbul” Written by Ahmet Davutoğlu, the article handles the changes, settlements, functionality and symbolical quality of the city throughout the history. Continuing his historical read by comparing the practices in other cities that were acquired by Europeans at the same time as the Ottoman conquest, Ahmet Davutoğlu interprets the role of the city on transformation of civilizations within the relationship of past, present and future. Presenting a comparative read on the building of civilization by inhabitants of the city, the writer evaluates the Ottoman conquest, their activities in areas such as housing, economics, architecture, politics, administration, culture and civilization and their experience of co-existing in terms of originality and liberty through a simultaneous read with the European history. He assesses Istanbul’s founding and conveying role in the civilization history, its influences and legacy within the continuity of Roman-Ottoman and Republican histories.

The article, which also offers an important read on the city with its theoretical-conceptual content, reflects the writer’s perspective of the city and his ideas about its future with the following words: “Maintaining its central line quality from ancient ages to modern times, Istanbul will inevitably be at the navel of historical course during globalization process. Thus, it is Istanbul’s fate as a vivid, living city to be a transportation junction, trade and finance center and focus point of culture and media within the next century. However, around which ontological core and architectural/aesthetic form this fate will be reshaped is maybe our biggest test against the history.”

Third article of the chapter is called “Istanbul: Magnificent City of Imperial Transformations” and it was written by Feridun M. Emecen. The writer handles major transformations and depressions of the city from Byzantine to early 19th century. Separated into two basic periods as Byzantine and Ottoman, the article starts with the conceptual framework. The subject is evolved around Istanbul’s geographical position and its deployment according to it, historical traces of settlement, development of the city, public works, how it was planned as a capital, how it was designed as a Christian capital, perception of the capital Constantinople by the East and the West and major depressions and threats that the city had faced. Article continues with reflections of the transition from Byzantine Istanbul to Ottoman Istanbul and its influence on the city. Afterwards, it is told how Ottoman Istanbul also transformed into a major world city by underlining its religious, political, social, cultural, architectural and commercial missions and functions. Reviewing the great depressions of Ottoman Istanbul and reflections of them on the city, the article also evaluates repositioning and restructuring of the city in accordance with the developments in Ottoman and around the world from 17th to 19th century under sub-headings called “Capital of Crisis and Transformation Age” and “Westernized Capital.” Mentioning also the imperial story and major depressions and transformations of Istanbul, the article provides a basis for readers to develop a fresh point of view and a new approach towards the city as a different study about Istanbul’s history.

Fourth and final article of the chapter was written by İlhan Tekeli. Writer tells the transformation of the city from the second half of 19th century to the end of 20th century. Article divides the 150-year modernization tale of Istanbul into three periods: The first period named “Timid modernization” covers the time between 1838 and 1923. This period indicates the shyness of Ottoman’s steps towards modernization. The years between 1923 and 1948 is the period of bold loyalty to modernity and implementation of “radical modernity project.” The third period covering between 1948 and 1980 is called a “populist modernization” period which is a result of transition from single-party to multi-party regime. The last part of the article specifies that “a fourth period was entered after 1980, where the modernity project started to fall apart and post-modernist practices began to grow” and that due to the major global political change in 1990’s, - dissolution of Eastern Bloc - Istanbul regained the opportunity to be a “world city” that had been missed after the I. World War and “transitioned from a single-centered enormous industrial city to a multi-centered urban district.” Setting forth the radical changes occurred in the city without changing hands and reflections of such changes, which means the story of the last century of the city, the article presents a colorful urban reading by evaluating the recent history of Istanbul in terms of city planning and sociology as well as handling the political history and modernization history of the country together.

Subject of the second chapter is Istanbul in the Global Scale. This chapter emphasizes the importance of Istanbul within the context of itself and the world cities and studies the history of the city comparatively with prominent countries in the past and today.

Status of Istanbul is separately compared to its contemporary world cities during Byzantine, Ottoman and Republican periods, which puts Istanbul within the context of world cities in such detail for the first time.

In the Topography and Settlement chapter, Istanbul’s geographical structure, physical features, settlement history and reflection of it on the maps are specified under sub-headings called “Archaeology,” “Spatial Development and Topography”, “Natural and Human Calamities”, “Cartography”.

Articles of History of Istanbul from Antiquity to the 21st Century’s most voluminous subject, “Politics and Administration”, covers the entire 2nd volume and a major part of the 3rd volume. Istanbul is one of the rare world cities that has been maintaining its status as a political center throughout its long history. It came forward as the representor of the political power of Eastern Rome/Byzantine for over a thousand years and then Ottoman after the year 1453. It became the sole political ruler of a wide geography and stood out as a political and administration center that cannot be compared to any other city. The chapter articles handling the city’s political developments and feature of being an administration center within its rooted history were gathered under the following sub-headings: “Politics”, “Sieges and Conquest”, “Diplomacy,” “Law”, “Management and Administrational Structure”, “Elections”, “Ceremonies.”

Last chapter of the 3rd Volume is Demography. Demography of the city was chronologically divided into four sub-chapters covering the period from its foundation to Ottoman’s conquest, from the Conquest to 19th century when modern census was conducted, from 19th century to the Republican Period and the Republican Period. Caused by the major downsizing in the Ottoman geography, the migrations during 19th century and the population exchange during the Republican period that had an influence on Istanbul’s demography are also handled in this chapter. On the other hand, effects of the Republican-period migrations on Istanbul’s demography are studied with city’s post-Republican demography.

4th volume is about Society. The chapter handling the society of Istanbul within historical continuity includes the following sub-headings: “Social Layers”, “Health and Food”, “Clothes”, “Ceremonies-Entertainment-Sports”, Socializing and Common Courtesy”, “Disasters and Social Aid,” “Being a Child and Playing Sports in Istanbul”, “Gardens of Istanbul”.

5th volume is about Religion. Setting forth the religious sensibilities and lives in a city like Istanbul actually means setting forth the ultimate viewpoints of faith systems. While this applies for all issues, it gains more importance given the present discussions over religion. Subject was studied under three sub-headings: “Christianity,” “Judaism” and “Islam”. Istanbul’s pagan history is also told at the beginning of the chapter.

6th volume includes Economy and Transportation & Communication chapters. The fact that it controls the Bosphorus, opens to Marmara, has an inner port like the Golden Horn and connects the East and the West as well as the North and the South via sea and land has made Istanbul an important intersection point and one of the basic routes of commercial life since the early periods of its history. City has also a central position in terms of transportation and communication due to the same features. Having been planned by considering national and international relations, Economy chapter handles the following sub-headings: “Economy in Constantinople,” “Provisioning and Waqf in Ottoman Istanbul”, “Trade, Industry and Finance in Ottoman Istanbul”, “Waqfs, Trade, Industry and Finance in the Republican Istanbul”.

In the last chapter of this volume called Transportation and Communication, historical journey of inner city, long distance and short distance transportation and communication of Istanbul is told under various sub-headings. Transportation is analyzed in three categories called land, sea and air with relevant conditions, vehicles and institutions. On the other hand, communication is set forth with periodical networks and structure as per the course of transportation and communication.

“Literature, Art and Culture” chapter takes place in the 7th volume. Reflecting the cultural diversity of Istanbul, the chapter consists of the following sub-headings: “Music and Musical Culture”, “Literature”, “Visual Arts”.

8th volume analyzes Education, Science and Technology. “Education” sub-heading includes the educational activities in Byzantine, Ottoman and Republican periods and book culture. Similarly, “Science and Technology” sub-heading is analyzed according to these three periods.

Architecture is included in 9th volume. Analyzing also the history of city planning, the chapter includes the following sub-headings: “Byzantine Architecture”, “Early Ottoman Architecture”, “Ottoman Architecture in the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries”, “Ottoman Architecture in the XVIIIth and XIXth Centuries”, “Structural Legacy of Ottoman Istanbul,” “City Planning from Ottomans to the Republic” and “Architecture in the Republican Period.”

10th volume records “Istanbul in Memories.” In this chapter, Semavi Eyice, Mehmet Şevket Eygi, Nevzad Atlığ, Saadettin Ökten, M. Orhan Okay, Hüsrev Hatemi, İnci Enginün, Hilmi Yavuz and Gülbün Mesara tell their memories, observations, impressions and comments about the city and its inhabitants. Turgut Cansever and Tâhir Olgun (Tâhirü’l-Mevlevî) also enrichens the chapter with their interviews and articles from journals. Including narrations by distinguished figures of culture, art, literature and science who had witnessed and played a part in major changes in the city such as negligence, destruction, reconstruction as of the first years of the Republic, the chapter is a “verbal history” study which enlightens the future of the city as well as its past. Interviews by Beşir Ayvazoğlu, who is a prominent man of letters and culture, are considered as original sources for studies of Istanbul’s history.

Two independent studies follow these themes in History of Istanbul from Antiquity to the 21st Century. First one is “Chronology of Istanbul” and second one is “Bibliography of Istanbul.”

Thus, the work sets forth the history of Istanbul with an understanding of historical continuity. It should be underlined that each chapter is a holistic, voluminous and almost the first reading study within itself in terms of exploration of Istanbul’s history. While the study aims to put forth Istanbul’s history as the main theme, it also makes significant contributions to the histories of Ancient Age, Rome, Eastern Rome/Byzantine, Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey while attempting to specify the historical depth, efficiency and position of the city.

One of the elements that distinguishes History of Istanbul from Antiquity to the 21st Century from several city histories and that is considered as a complementary component of the content is its visual quality. In addition to principles, methods and content, this element was one of the most important points especially in writing of the city’s history. Written documents have naturally an indisputable place in our historiography. However, it does not apply for visual documents. Whereas visual materials are as valuable sources as written documents. They should be utilized in history-writing like written documents by paying attention to their relationship with source value, context, function, discourse, message, presentation, purpose, copyright, writer, period, position, etc. Kurt Tucholsky who said “One picture tells more than a thousand words” and Peter Burke who named his book Eye Witnessing: The Uses of Images as Historical Evidence which focuses on the role of visual material “From Posters to Sculptures and Miniature to Photography” in history writing have both pointed out excellent points in terms of historical sources. Visual materials are much more important than some texts and have a quality of filling in the blanks that cannot be expressed by words or cannot be filled in by written sources. They can open a window to a world that readers cannot define or imagine and enable us to define the indefinable or see and visualize the existing. Visual materials have witnessed several matters and some issues can only be made clear and revealed through their guidance.

Therefore, we paid attention to the visual materials and demonstrating them in the book. Maps, miniatures, engravings, paintings, photographs, archive documents, manuscripts (yazma), calligraphies (hat), illuminated manuscripts (tezhip), paper marblings (ebru), decorations, place-building images and graphics are included in order to show the historical journey of the city, its inhabitants and events.

Through about 4000 materials contributed by Uğur Demir, who has a substantial collection in this area, we tried to visually reflect the historical journey of the city and help readers to visualize the concepts of time and place in the book. Each visual material was defined shortly. However, they were not analyzed extensively due to general volume, purpose, content planning, time limit and abundance of visual materials. By specifying holders and resources of each material, basic references were provided for the readers who need information about their periods, authors and contents.

Reader could get the impression that some visual materials are repeated throughout the book. Main reason of this is that some places are related to many subjects in every period. For instance, Hagia Sophia is an intersection point for three periods: Roman/Byzantine, Ottoman and Republican. In a way, symbols of the turning points of Istanbul’s history are embodied in Hagia Sophia. First, it was a grand sanctuary/church built as a symbol of power and faith of a magnificent empire. Then, again as a symbol of change of hands, it was converted into a mosque and then a külliye with due diligence worthy of its grandeur. Finally, upon losing the status of capital, this historical building was transformed into a museum. When it comes to Istanbul, Hagia Sophia comes to mind one way or another in not only religious and architectural matters, but many other areas like politics, society, culture, art, ceremonies, tourism, etc. Topkapı Palace and Grand Ottoman külliyes and squares such as Sultanahmet and Süleymaniye are places that have witnessed and hosted critical changes and transformations of the city in almost every area. Hippodrome/Sultanahmet Square had been a place for imperial ceremonial demonstrations and defining political developments. Can we measure the amount of history that would be left out in case this square and its surroundings were cut out of Istanbul? It is rare to find such a square that have witnessed the course of history.

Naturally, it was inevitable to use different visual materials for the same place in such a visually assertive, voluminous and multiple themed book, although repetition of the same frame was not preferred. Only a few historical materials were utilized more than once due to various reasons. A remarkable example of this is a map of Istanbul by Matrakçı Nasuh. This miniature/map, which is a very important source for Istanbul in terms of topography, urbanization, architecture and many more aspects, was utilized more than once for geographic and architectural reasons with direct references.

Surely, when it comes to Istanbul, the number of visual materials that could be provided is not limited to the thousands included in this book. Historical depth of the city has also reflected on its visual richness and materials. Among tens of thousands of visual materials provided within the relationship of time, place and opportunity, the ones which were picked as per their accordance with the subjects and content were included.

Researching, providing, selecting and defining visual materials require high level of information, knowledge, effort, patience, experience and strength. In addition to the story of itself and the subject it had witnessed, each visual material has also a story as to how it was found, procured and preferred. A substantial amount of the visual materials are period pieces and have centuries of histories. A visual material that opens new worlds to its reader while turning pages may have witnessed long-term and bitter-sweet stories during transferal from its place to the pages. Accessing a visual material may require a long time, a diligent pursuit and knocking on several doors. For a single photo of a building complex, you may need to take permits from ten separate institutions and determine and comply with their available hours respectively. This also indicates dramatic possession of historical works after they are taken out of their locations. It requires another struggle to take photographs of the permitted structures. Sometimes you may not find a supervisor or a suitable angle… Because additional buildings constructed as facilities, appliances placed in the yard, piles accumulated in the corners and trees witnessing the history may affect the right place and angle while taking photos.

However, sometimes the result may be pleasing even if the desired image of some structures cannot be obtained in the photo shoots.

Because the reason is pleasing and promising. The most important of all is the restoration works. It was seen better during photo shoots that there is a great effort about the historical structures of Istanbul and that the city probably have not go through such a hectic period throughout its history.

Perception about the documental value of the visual material and provision from internet mostly causes ignorance of effort. Resolution, photograph value and shooting quality of the material is as important as itself for purposes of publication. Without the understanding and encouraging attitude of project management, design team and publisher as well as the patience of the committee-in-charge of visual materials, it would not be possible to convey the visual materials to these pages, despite the fact that they had caused delay in publication and substantial increase of exhaustion, cost and design efforts. This visual richness is obviously based on the assistance of relevant institution members.

Articles have been through several stages from the time they were written to their design. These stages are reading of the articles by chapter editor, book editor, arbitrator, project director and scientific redaction committee, respectively, which is followed by bibliography works, revisions, technical redaction, spelling and revision check carried out by a qualified and experienced committee and finally, last reading. While each stage followed one another, thanks to the immense tolerance of graphic and printing teams, readings were continued during the design and even in the publication stage in order to minimize the errors as much as possible. The same process applies for visual materials in terms of the relationship among editor, visual editor, designer, project director and caption definitions.

The work was shaped by support of a big scientific team that also includes experts from different countries. In the preparation stage of the book, an extensive list of writers was created based on recommendations of chapter editors, publication and science board, advisors and experts who were consulted. Thanks to the efforts of the concerned people, contacts of our chapter editors in particular, precious knowledge of an extensive team was conveyed to the book. As a result, this work was prepared with 363 articles by 270 scientists - except for marginal notes - and visual materials provided by an experienced team. Considering different kinds of contributions, the number of scientists that have a hand in the book reached up to 300. As a result of a thorough examination of the contents page at the end of this volume, it will be seen that world-famous, esteemed writers who are experts in their fields and have produced qualified studies meet in the pages of this work.

The most distinctive quality of History of Istanbul from Antiquity to the 21st Century among other city histories is its extensive group of writers, international academic contributions, abundance of visual materials and its volume. Complementing and supporting itself in terms of content, design and publication material, this study can also be referred as a model in terms of writing long histories of cities.

After completing the publication of the History of Istanbul in Turkish, we began translating the articles into English. This process of translating followed several stages. Firstly, all the articles were translated into English and they were read through by native speakers. Then, the committee of scientific reduction examined all the articles and checked their consistency in terms of technical terms, vocabulary as well as adjusted certain word choices suitable for the intent of authors. Finally, professional proofreaders read the articles and checked their consistency in terms of idiomatic English. Then, we processed the articles again in this publication in English.

As well as its content, publication material and typeface of this work were also selected meticulously. Interior dimensions of the book are 24 x 29 cm. The type and size of the font used is Ineborg, 10.5 for article texts; Neutraface Text, 11 for boxed texts and Neutraface Text, 8 for captions. The paper is one of the most distinguished and prestigious papers of the world, which is GardaPat 13 Klassica 115 gr/m2. Cover material is Gmund’s f-color Bütten meerblau for the binder and Gmund f-color Feinleinen titan for the endpapers. Custom series Kurz gilding was used on the cover. Undoubtedly, one of the properties that makes the work appealing is the fact that it was designed by one of the select designers of our country and that a close attention was paid to the color distinction and printing.

Despite being a voluminous work, History of Istanbul from Antiquity to the 21st Century is not free of deficiencies. There are several reasons for that. Time, volume, expertise, choices, etc.… This work was not prepared in an undefined period of time. On the contrary, compared to its content and volume, it was prepared within a quite constricted schedule with great efforts. Became partially flexible in the stage of processing the texts and design. Thanks to the tolerance of the printer who also wished to produce a better work, the time. Undoubtedly, each assessment of the experts that will enlighten the truth and are intended as a contribution will be accepted as an important addition to history of the city and be utilized.

This book is offered to the readers as a collaboration of an extensive team which includes hundreds of qualified, diligent, sincere, friendly, productive and participative people from planning to printing. It will definitely be enrichened, get more effective and become a permanent work with the attention of its readers. We tried to refer to all participators in credits, acknowledgements, content pages and as persons and institutions in relevant parts. However, we do not claim to have mentioned all people that should have been included in these pages. We ask for tolerance from all participators.

As I approach the end, I want to express my gratitude to M. Âkif Aydın, with whom I also worked with as project direcotr and editor in publication of 40-volume Istanbul Kadı Registers (Court Registers) book, for his kindness, calmness and management. His management has been one of the most important fortunes of this work.

We mostly think of a book as words on a page. At least, that is the common opinion. Texts are undoubtedly indispensable components of books. However, we do not talk about just a text, but a book which is generally referred to as a “written work.” A written work is composed of many separate parts. Seeing a book as just words is breaching the law of the written work. It is not just a breach of the book, but also of the text.

A book is a product of a series of processes, each of which makes the previous one significant and the following one necessary, from the stage of content planning until getting it to the reader. Planning, ordering the texts, redaction, texts, visual materials, type style, type size, design, paper, printing, cover, getting it to the reader and readability are all complementary processes that adds significance to the book and turns it into a written work. Negligence of one step decreases the effect of the previous steps and may render the following stages unnecessary. Each and every stage of this book was planned and followed with a precision to pass on a written work to both present and future generations. It is always possible to do better. Priority is acting with an understanding that matches the spirit of the work and an approach that contains conscientious responsibility in terms of time, place, possibilities and human relations. We endeavored to do our best, but also exercised due diligence to not abandoning the priority.

We know that history not only witnesses the past, but it also mirrors the present and reflects even the shadows that are thought to have been disappeared.

I wish all of us an enlightened reflection in the mirror of time…

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.