İstanbul, one of the world’s most ancient cities, has existed in some form since 900 B. C. Pliny mentions the little walled town of Lygos having then existed on the point, though the walled city of history was Byzantium.
The Walls: Septimius Severus, capturing the city in 196 A.D., destroyed the walls, but, urged by Caracalla, his son, restored the city even beyond its former strength and beauty. His new walls extended from Eminönü – Çemberlitaş – Küçük Aya Sofya – and back to Eminönü along the shore. When the city became his capital in 330, Constantine extended the walls between Unkapanı and Samatya. Constantine’s land walls were demolished by Theodosius II, who extended them in 412 from Ayvansaray to Yedikule and the sea walls from Samatya to Yedikule and Unkapanı to Ayvansaray, enclosing the city in a 15-mile wall. Yeditepe (Seven Hills): The seven hills of Constantinople are now covered by: 1. Topkapi and Aya Sofya; 2. Çemberlitaş and the Nuruosmaniye Mosque; 3. The University and The Süleymaniye Mosque: 4. The Mosque of Fatih; 5. The Mosque of Sultan Selim; 6. The Edirne Gate; 7. The Mosque of Koca Mustafa Paşa.
Wards : For administration the city was divided into 7 wards, each under a curator.The Gates and Harbors: Fifty gates opened onto the Golden Horn, Marmara and the mainland. On the Marmara shore there were 6 ports, now filled in, the largest being the Julian and the Theodosian port.
Avenues and Open Spaces: The Acropolis was on the first hill, and South of It the Forum of Augustus, whence the Mese (Central Avenue), part of which is now the Divan Yolu, ran to the Çemberlitaş, then center of the Forum, and from there to the Forum of Theodosius or Tauri, now the university. It then led on to the Forum Amastrianum (south of the Şehzade Mosque), forking beyond it. One branch led to the site of the Fatih Mosque and past the Aspar cistern to the Edirne Gate. The other turned south, through to the Forum Bovis (Aksaray), to the Forum of Arcadius (Cerrahpaşa district) and the Koca Mustafa Paşa Mosque, there forking again to the Pighi and Golden Gates.
Galata : This old district, first named Sykae (figs) from its numerous fig-trees, then for a time Justian, from his improvements, was one of the 14 wards which finally made up Constantinople. In Byzantine days it was a Latin (i. e. Pisan, Venetian and Genoese) trading colony, with privileges which grew, during the decline, so much that It became almost an autonomous stole. Quarrels were frequent, and the Genoese increased greatly in numbers and importance till the conquest when’ Galata passed into Turkish hands.
Beyoğlu (Son of the Prince) : In the 14th century a district of vineyards and workers cottages, Beyoğlu began to be built up after the Conquest with the razing of the walls of Galata. With the fall of the kingdom of Pontus and the Byzantine empire of Trebizond in 1461, Fatih settled many of their inhabitants here, including David Cotmmenus of Trebizond, o convert to Islam, from whom Beyoğlu took its name. Later the foreign consulates moved there from Galata, and it became a populous district.
Kadıköy: Older than Byzantium, it was originally the Phoenician colony of Chalcedon. When the Emperor Valens took it, he razed its walls, using the stones to build his famous aqueduct.
Üsküdar : In ancient times a dependency of Chaicedon, It was later called Chrysopolls (City of Gold), from its radiance in the sunset. The area around the landing stage (Öküz Limanı) (Ox Harbour), was called Damalis Point after the wife of the Athenian general Khares who is supposed to be buried there. It was taken by Arabs and Persians before Christ, and Harun-al-Rashid in 782 A.D., and recovered again by the Byzantines, owing its name to their «Scutari» soldiers quartered there in the 11th century. After the Conquest, the Turks developed it and extended it over the neighboring hills, of which Camlıca has a fine view of the Bosphorus.