Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman empire, in 49° N. lat, 28° 59' E. long., was founded in 330 a.d. by Constantine the Great, from whom it derives its name, on a site partly occupied by the ancient Greek colony (658 b.c.) of Byzantium. The Turks call it Istambol or Stambol, probably a mere corruption of Turkish mispronunciation of Constantinopolis. The original Byzantium was built on the apex of the triangular peninsula which juts out towards Asia on the southern side of the Golden Horn, where the present Eski Serai or ' Old Seraglio' stands, and its commanding position made it an object of strife among the nations - Persians, Gauls, and Greeks. In the 4th century B.C., the Athenians repelled the siege of Philip of Macedon, aided, according to the legend, by the supernatural appearance of a crescent in the sky, which revealed the presence of the invaders, and was forthwith adopted as the badge or crest of the city, as it is to this day.
The two are separated by the Golden Horn, a creek about five miles long and half a mile wide at the entrance, a safe and spacious harbour, and so deep that the largest ironclads of the Turkish navy can lie quite close to the shore. Stambol or Turkish Constantinople lies on the southern side of the Golden Horn, and Christian Constantinople lies on the north side: the two are connected by a couple of rude but convenient bridges. The old walls, in courses of stone and red brick, and 14 miles in circuit, show that the modern Turkish city occupies much the same area as the capital of the first Christian emperor. Within these walls the city rises, like Rome, upon seven low hills, crowned by noble mosques, with a wilderness of picturesque, tumble-down, filthy, wooden houses and bazaars climbing up their sides. In Stambol are nearly all the monuments and antiquities worth seeing in Constantinople. First is Agia Sophia, Saint Sophia, the church dedicated by Constantino to ' Eternal Wisdom,' rebuilt with added splendour by Theodosius (415) and by Justinian (538-568), and now converted into a mosque. Outside it is not worth a second glance; but within, the airy grace of its stupendous dome, and the beauty of its marbles and mosaics, despite all the ravages of Moslem and tourists' desecrations, fascinate and amaze the vision. Next, but not less beautiful, is the Suleymaniya, the mosque which the Great Suleyman erected in 1550-5. Scarcely less stately is the mosque of Sultan Ahmed I. in the Hippodrome, distinguished without by its six minarets (instead of the usual four). The mosque of the conqueror Mohammed II. is also notable. There are over two hundred other mosques in Constantinople, and an even larger number of chapels, besides hundreds of medreses or mosque colleges. The Fanar, or Greek quarter of Stambol, recalls the memory of famous Fanariote statesmen in the Turkish service. The Hippodrome (now called At-Meydan, or ' Horse Manege'), originally a circus surrounded by marble seats, long since removed, still shows remains of antiquity, such as the famous column of the Three Serpents which once stood at the Temple of Delphi, and an obelisk brought from Heliopolis in Egypt in the reign of Theodosius; whilst hard by are the Burnt Column, the column of Theodosius, and the Seraskier's Tower. Among the remains of Mohammedan splendour the Old Seraglio (Eski Serai) is the most important, though it has not been a royal residence since the days of Mahmud II. Its first gate, Bab-i-Humayun or 'sublime Porte,' has given its name to the Turkish government in its foreign relations.