[Picture]This magnificent city which had earlier been the capital of Eastern Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine Empire) for one thousand years, remained capital of the Ottoman Empure until 1922. A focal point of world politics throughout its history, Istanbul was the seat of six Roman emperors. 86 Byzantine emperors, seven Latin kings and thirty Ottoman sultans. Over past two thousand years Istanbul has been known by 135 different names and cognomens, most of the latter adjectives referring to the city's eminence, bauty or status as capital. Istanbul's earliest recorded name was Licus, and throughout antiquity it was known as Byzantium. Under the Romans various names were used, including Antonina, Antusa, Secunda Roma, Nova Roma, Urbis Imperiosum, Megalipolis, Konstantinopolis, Poli, and Kospoli. The present name Istanbul is widely believed to be a corruption of Istinpolin, meaning "within the city". In the Muslim world it was known as Kostantiniyye or Beldetü't-Tayyibe, while some early foreign travellers referred to the city as Escompoli. Following the Turkish conquest in 1453 the city became known officially as Mahrusa-i Kostantiniyye, Istanbul being a colloquial form used by the inhabitants. In official core- spondence and divan poetry it was known variously as Darü'l- mülk, Darü'l-islam, Ümmü'd-dünya, Islambol, Der-i devlet, Deraliyye, Dersaadet, Asitane, and Darü'l-hilafe.

[Picture] This magnificent city which had earlier been the capital of Eastern Over the centuries countless travellers, diplomats and foreign merchants visited this lovely city. Many returned to write books devoted either entirely to Istanbul or including substantial sections about the city.Istanbul's silhouette, monuments, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn were depicted time and time again in engravings and paintings. No respectable traveller left without seeing Haghia Sophia, the Hippodrome, the city walls, Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, the excursion places known to Europeans as the Sweet Waters of Europe and Asia the sultan's procession to Friday prayers, dervish ceremonies, wine shops and bazaars. Ramazan customs, street vendors, and beggars figured among other popular topics in accounts of these visits.

[Picture] This magnificent city which had earlier been the capital of Eastern Schiltberger visited Istanbul in the Byzantine period early in the fifteenth century, and describes the splendour and length of the city walls, Galata (which he says the Turks called Kalathan), the imperial palaces adorned with mosaics and marbles, the Hippodrome where tournaments were held, the obelisks, and the three hundred (!) brass doors of Haghia Sophia. He notes the legend that the Bosphorus was an artificial canal excavated by Alexander the Great to link the Black Sea to the Marmara, and that foreigners were forbidden to wander freely around the city.

Clavijo, who arrived on 15 October 1403, has left a more interest- ing account, including his audience with Emperor Manuel, the city's churches, monasteries and various districts, the cistern known as the Cellar of Mehmed, sacred springs and fountains, shops along the shore of the Golden Horn and dungeons. He relates the inhabitants' agitation at the rumour of an impending battle between the Venetian and Genoese fleets in the harbour, Of Pera (Beyoglu), then a separate town on the opposite shore of the Golden Horn, he writes,
"This is a small but populous town, surrounded by strong walls and filled with dwellings of outstanding beauty. Pera is ruled by the Genoese, although some of the inhabitants are Greek. The houses of Pera are so close to the sea that only a quay lies between."