Historical Names of Istanbul

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Istanbul hosted different civilizations and languages ​​throughout history. Historical names of Istanbul changed several times since the powers which dominate the city shifted several times too. Istanbul is a city with a settlement dating back 300 thousand years also an urban history of approximately 3 thousand years. Istanbul had been a capital for different states for 1600 years. Except for the Crusader’s invasion between 1204 and 1261 (330-1923), the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman Empire used Istanbul as their capital for 16 centuries. The city has been the sole ruler of the region in its wide geography from the Danube River in the west to the Persian Empire in the east.

I loved the classic song from the band “They Might Be Giants” when I was a little kid. I hope you can sing it along while reading this article.

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night
Every gal in Constantinople
Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
So if you’ve a date in Constantinople
She’ll be waiting in Istanbul

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
They Might Be Giants

Let’s have a look at the proud history and historical names of Istanbul.

Historical Names of Istanbul

Historical Names of Istanbul


Doric Greek settlers from Megara in Ancient Greece founded a colony in 667 BC which is known as Istanbul today. We learn from the ruins found in Yenikapı excavations, dating back to 8,500 years ago, they named the new colony “Byzantion” in honor of their king Byzas.

Nova Roma

When the city was declared the capital of the Roman Empire in 330, it was named “Nova Roma”, which means “New Rome” in Latin, but this name was not adopted much.


With the death of Emperor Constantine I, the name of the city was transformed into “Constantinople”, which means “the city of Constantine” in his honor. Constantinople remained the official name of the city throughout the Byzantine Empire era.


The word “eis ten polis” in ancient Greek means “go to the city’’ and some of the ancient experts suggested as the etymological source of the name of Istanbul.


In the official correspondences of the Ottoman Empire, the word “Darülhilafe” was used as the name of today’s Istanbul. Darulhilaf means ‘’center of the caliphate’’.

Makarr-ı Saltanat

Makarr-ı Saltanat means the center of the reign.


It is one of the old names of Istanbul, which means “gate of happiness”.


Asitane comes from the Turkish words Astana and Pisces. According to this thesis: The word İstanbul consists of two Turkish words. It is composed of the words Astana (or “Asitane” in Ottoman Turkish) and Fish. The words Astana or Asitane come from the pre-Turkish ASKAN or ASQAN word, meaning heavenly, belonging to a beautiful place or rulership.


Istanbul is the current name of the city. The city is named in different ways in various languages ​​and civilizations, Istanbul is ” Vizantion ” in Greek, ” Byzantium, Antoninya, Alma Roma, Nova Roma ” in Latin, ” Constantinople, Istinpolin, Megali Police, Kalipolis ” “Slavic”, “Czarist, Konstantingrad”, Viking “Miklagord”, Armenian “Vizant, Stimbol, Esdambol, Eskomboli”, in Arabic “Byzantium, al-Mahsura, Kustantina el-uzma ”, Seljuks ” Konstantiniyye, Mahrusa-i Konstantiniyye, Stambul ” and in Ottoman ” Dersaadet, Deraliyye, Mahrusa-i Saltanat, Istanbul, Islambol, Darü’s-saltanat-ı Aliyye, Asitane-i Aliyye, Darü’l-Hilafetü’l Aliye, Payitaht-ı Saltanat, Dyolu-ı Mualla, Südde-i Saadet ”.

Tour Guide in Istanbul

I will be happy to host you in Istanbul and guide you in this magnificent city. This article is a little fraction of Istanbul’s amazing history. You can contact me to book your licensed Turkish tour guide in Istanbul. I like to finish this article with a classic song about names of Istanbul. See you soon, Hasan Gülday.

Hasan Gülday

Hasan Gülday. Professional licensed tour guide working in Turkey.

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