1) Istanbul is the only city in the world that stands astride two continents. The main part of the city, which forms the south-easternmost extremity of Europe, is separated from its suburbs in Asia by the Bosphorus, which flows through a deep cleft that separates the two continents in the north-western corner of Turkey. The European part of the city is further divided by the Golden Horn, a scimitar shaped estuary fed at its upper end by two streams.
Q1:What effects did this almost unsurpassable natural setting have upon the history of the city from its founding in c. 658 B.C.?
The effects of this unique geography on the development of the city can be demonstrated through several major events from its history:
First, as legend says, when Byzas (the son of Zeus and Keroessa) asked the Oracle of Delphi where he should settle, her answer was “opposite the blind.” Sailing across the Bosporus in 658 B.C., he arrived to a Greek colony at the Asian shore and saw the potential of the west (European) side. The answer to the Delphi’s enigma was thus that the settlers in the East shore were blind to the spot, where Byzantium (the first settlement, which was ruined in approximately 200 AD) was established. Continue reading