Istanbul, Turkey lies on both the Asian and European continents, a strategic location in ancient times. Before it became known as Istanbul, it was Constantinople and the center of both the Roman and Ottoman empires at different times.
Istanbul was first named Constantinople after Constantine the Great. He made the city the seat of the Eastern Roman Empire in 330 A.D. and fashioned it to mirror the seven hills of Rome. By 660 B.C., the city's name was changed to Byzantium for the capital of the Byzantine Empire. It didn't gain the name of Istanbul until 1930. Istanbul was ahead of its time in many ways, containing hundreds of public toilets during the height of the Ottoman Empire before Europe or any other countries had any built.
Other items, such as tulips, had their origins in Istanbul. Although Holland is renowned for their tulips, the flowers first came from Istanbul, Turkey. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, a market filled with thousands of shops, is the oldest of its kind. It also has one of the oldest subway systems.
Istanbul boasts some amazing architecture, from the Blue Mosque to Hagia Sophia, a Christian church built more than 1,500 years ago. Although 99 percent of the population of the city are Muslim, it was once a major center for Christianity.