Throughout our lives, we have most likely heard about one of the oldest empires or perhaps a famous capital called Constantinople. The truth is that through each generation the tradition of highlighting its great importance has been maintained, however today the stories that are heard by word of mouth are probably a bit distorted. What was Constantinople called before?
The history of this city is of the utmost importance so here is a brief summary of all the important events that unfolded around it throughout all these years .
Constantinople was the historical name that the current city of Istanbul received, which is located on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey , and it was also the capital of several empires throughout history, of which the following dates can be mentioned:
- From 330 to 395 the Roman Empire .
- From 395 to 1204 and from 1261 to 1453 the Byzantine Empire .
- From 1204 to 1261 the Latin Empire.
- From 1453 to 1922 the Ottoman Empire began with the Fall of Constantinople and ended with the Occupation of Constantinople.
When and where did Constantinople exist?
It was strategically located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara at the point where Europe and Asia met , during the Byzantine Empire the city of Constantinople adopted Christianity and was heir to the Roman and Greek world . Throughout the Middle Ages it was considered the richest city in Europe and was known by the name of “the Queen of Cities.” On the other hand, they also called it the Crossroads of the World, since it was the trade connection between Europe, Asia and Africa. What was Constantinople called before?
It has had different names depending on the historical moment and the rulers, the most remembered names are: Byzantium and New Rome (although this name was mostly ecclesiastical). It was also known as Miklagarðr and officially received its current name Istanbul in 1930 with the Turkish Postal Service Law, which was one of the nationwide reforms that Atarturk promoted.
What was Constantinople called before
Constantine I the Great, in the year 324 founded the city of Constantinople above the ancient city of Byzantium , defeating the Roman co-emperor Licinius with what became the most powerful in the Roman Empire. By his power he decided to turn this city into the capital of the Empire, and thus began the work of beautification, recreation and protection of the city. To achieve this he employed around 40,000 workers, most of whom were Goth slaves .
The city was inaugurated even without finishing the works more or less on May 10, 330, Constantine opened this city with traditional rites that lasted about forty days. By this time the city had approximately thirty thousand inhabitants. After a century it reached half a million and thus became the largest city in the world, some authors even claim that it reached one million inhabitants.
It was renamed Constantine’s New Rome, but was popularly called Constantinopolis . It was rebuilt resembling Rome , it had 14 regions, a forum, a capitol and the senate, the territory was considered tax-free land and had seven hills.
The existing temples were destroyed by Constantine and in addition he persecuted the pagans , he also built Christian temples. Even during his rule the crucifixion was abolished and also the fights between gladiators, divorce was regulated to give greater protection to women and there was greater sexual contention according to Christian customs. What was Constantinople called before?
On the other hand, he built Christian churches such as the church-mausoleum where they buried the emperor and that of Santa Irene . Despite showing support for Christianity, Emperor Constantine had not declared himself religious until his deathbed where he was baptized by the Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia.
The beautification of New Rome came at the expense of other cities of the Empire, because they looted the best works and brought them to the capital . In the forum they placed a column where there was a statue of Apollo to which the emperor ordered to remove the head to replicate his. They also moved mosaics, columns, sculptures, and obelisks mostly from Athens, but also from Alexandria and Ephesus. The emperor did not pay attention to budgets, since he wanted to form a universal capital.
In the times of Septimius Severus in 203 the city’s hippodrome was built, which accommodated more than fifty thousand people and this was where the popular festivities in homage to the generals of the Empire were held. The courts of the most relevant cases were also held, and today this racecourse became a square in the center of the city of Istanbul. Here the obelisks that were in the axis of the track are preserved and one of them belongs to Pharaoh Tutmosis III.
Culture was given great importance in this city. Constantius II was the creator of one of the first universities in the world in 340 who founded the University of Constantinople, which was later reformed by Emperor Theodosius II in 425 . In this university grammar, law, rhetoric, mathematics, philosophy, medicine and astronomy were taught. This university had large lecture halls where thirty one professors taught their classes. What was Constantinople called before?
Constantinople is built on Byzantium
A new capital with views of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus; a capital located near the borders of the Danube and the Euphrates, between Europe and Asia , in the heart of the ancient Hellenic civilization.
The new city limits were defined by a plow and when finished, thousands of workers began to build the new walls. Legend has it that Constantine had a new divine vision, according to which an angel would have been the one who revealed the layout of those walls.
This new city emerged from Byzantium would not receive any dedication to any god and no sacrifice was made to fortune, since Christianity had been – according to the famous vision of Constantine in Milvian – the religion that had put it in power. The city was thus placed under the protection of the Vera Cruz, the rod of Moses and other sacred relics . What was Constantinople called before?