Istanbul is the largest city in the country. The population of the entire Istanbul metropolitan area is estimated at 15 million in 2014, making it one of the largest urban areas in the world. With a strong cultural and historical heritage, the cosmopolitan city is a major tourist destination.
Located on the edge of the Marmara Sea and on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait – thus, according to some political approaches (see Limits of Europe), straddling two continents, theEurope and theAsia – Istanbul is generally considered the gateway to Europe because the historic city is located on the western shore of the Strait.
Officially called İstanbul since March 28, 1930, it has had other names during its history (still sometimes used depending on the context), including Byzantium at the time of its foundation, then Constantinople (from 11 May 330 in honour of theRoman emperorConstantine I).
Founded under the name of Byzantion, the city can look back on 2600 years of history. Also known as the Second Rome “, Istanbul belonged at first to the Thrace, then to theRoman Empire of which it was the second capital after 395, (which became theEastern Roman Empire and called in the 17th centuryth century” Byzantine ” by Hieronymus Wolf), then to theOttoman Empire since 29 May 1453, and finally, just after the fall of the Ottoman Empire on 10 August 1920, to the Republic of Turkey, of which it was capital until 13 October 1923, when this administrative function was transferred to Ankara. The ancient names of the city, Byzantium and Constantinople, bear witness to this long history. Only a few other major cities have had three names in their history. From a historical point of view, it is possible to consider Constantinople, along with Athens and Rome, as one of the three most important ancient capitals. As the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and – until 1924 – of the Ottoman Caliphate, Istanbul was also an important centre of Orthodox Christianity and Sunni Islam for centuries.
The inhabitants of ancient Byzantium were called Byzantiotes and those of Constantinople, the Constantinopolitans or Politans. On the other hand, no citizen of the Eastern Roman Empire ever called himself a Byzantine: they defined themselves as “Romans” and when they became subjects of the Ottoman Empire, the latter organized them into the milliyet of Rum. The inhabitants of Istanbul are the Stambouliotes or Istanbuliotes.
The ” Sublime Porte ” or simply “the Porte” was the French name for the monumental gate of honour of the Grand Vizier in Constantinople, the seat of government of the Sultan of theOttoman Empire.