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A large population lived in the area around 5.000 B. C. Greeks from Miletus and Megara began to settle along the coasts of Bosporus and the Black Sea during the latter part of the eighth century B. C. The colony of Byzantium was founded in 660 B. C. by a Megarian named Byzas. The old walled city was one of the most coveted places in the world. To resist invaders, its inhabitants built massive walls. On September 18, 324, Constantine I. (274¨337) defeated rival emperor Licinius and united the vast Roman Empire under his leadership. On 11.5.330, Byzantium officially became the capital of the empire, which stretched over three continents. Briefly known as New Rome, the city was renamed Constantinople in honor of Constantine, the first Roman ruler to adopt Christianity. Constantinople became one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful cities of its time. In 1457, Constantinople, known by now as Istanbul, became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. It was the capital city of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires and the capital of the Turkish Republic.
Visitors travel from around the world to see Turkish palaces, mosques, museums, monuments, and water fountains. The Haghia Sophia, today a museum, was one of the largest churches of its time. During the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian (527¨565), more than 500,000 people lived in Constantinople. Justinian oversaw the construction of some of the city's most spectacular buildings, including the Haghia Sophia. The population of Istanbul is today 14.000.000 people.

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