Greek: Κωνσταντινουπολις
What: Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and the Ottoman empires.
Founded: 11 May, 330
Fell: May 29, 1453
Current name: Istanbul
Languages: Koine Greek
Religion: Christianity and later Eastern Orthodox

Constantinople (1422) by Cristoforo Buondelmonti.

Constantinople (1422) by Cristoforo Buondelmonti.

Constantinople (sometimes referred to as “New Rome”) was founded by Constantine I on the ancient Greek city of Byzantine (where the Byzantine Empire gets its’ name from) in 330. It was a perfect site because it sat at the entrance to the Black Sea, was along the path of the silk road and lay at the crossroads between Asia and Europe. The city was the capital of the Byzantine Empire and flourished and survived for over 1,100 years until it fell to the Ottoman Empire on Tuesday, May 29, 1453. This is why Tuesday is considered an unlucky day in Greece.

During the 6th century Justinian I became emperor and would have a lasting influence. He decorated Constantinople with beautiful monasteries and churches such as the Hagia Sophia and the Church of Holy Wisdom. The church of the Hagia Sophia is considered to be a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture.” Justinian was also able to restore the Eastern Roman Empire after it was lost to Barbarian tribes the previous century.

Constantinople was one of the most influential cities in the World. It survived attacks from barbarian invasions in the 5th century, the Avars and Bulgars in the 7th century and was able to hold off the Persians and Arabs for hundreds of years. This helped the Roman Empire and the rest of Europe grow and flourish without the worry of invading armies from the Middle-East. The fall of Constantinople also attributed greatly to the Renaissance. Greek scholars fled to Italy and brought with them Greek manuscripts, and knowledge of the classical Greek literature. This work had previously been lost for centuries in the West. Work such as that of Euclids, Archimedes, Socrates, Anaximander and more. This is the reason why so many painters during the Renaissance have painted scenes of Ancient Greece (such as The School of Athens and The Apotheosis of Homer).

The city is currently part of Turkey and is named Istanbul (from the Greek word meaning “to the city”). It has a current population of 12.8 million people, larger than that of Greece combined, and has a small Greek community of around 3,000 people. The Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I, still resides there even with tensions between the Patriarch and the Turkish government. The Turkish government closed the Theological School of Halki in 1971 and requires that the Patriarch be a Turkish citizen even though all Patriarch’s have been an ethnic Greek since 1923. The Patriarch, however, refuses to leave since Constantinople has been the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church for over 1,500 years.

“Engineering an Empire – Greek Byzantium” by History Channel :

“Byzantium the Lost Empire – Building a Dream” hosted by John Romer :

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