Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" - The Four Lads, 1953 (popular)

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night

Every gal in Constantinople
Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
So if you've a date in Constantinople
She'll be waiting in Istanbul

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can't say
People just liked it better that way

So, take me back to Constantinople
No, you can't go back to Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks


Why did Constantinople get the works? Well, it's not nobody's business but the's pretty much well-documented world history. The reason for the name change is really quite simple.

Contstantinople was the imperial capital of the Roman Empire. It was founded by Emperor Constantine I in 324 A.D. on the site of the already existing city, Byzantium, which was the capital of Christendom succeeding ancient Greece and Rome. Rome was entirely too far away from the frontiers, and Constantine needed a place where, while he was away, he could still be readily defended and yet have military access to the Danube and Euphrates frontiers. The name "Constantinople" is a shortening of the city's christened name, "Constantinopolis"...Constantine's City. Six years later, in 330 A.D. it was proclaimed the new capital of the Roman Empire.

Constantinople grew to be a city of great importance as the Roman Empire grew, located strategically between the Great Horn and the Sea of Marmara where Europe meets Asia. Throughout the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest cities, and was often referred to as the Queen of Cities. The city has also been nicknamed the City on Seven Hills and the Door to Happiness. However, the name Constantinople was how everyone knew the city well into the 20th century.

The city had many nicknames, official and unofficial; colloquial and international; documented and undocumented. Naturally, the nicknames reflected the city's various attributes from its wealth to its location. Eventually, one name began to stick - Istanbul. The irony of it all is that "istanbul" really isn't a name, either and the use of this particular term for the city in regular Turkish speech dates back to at least the 10th century. It's another description. The word "istanbul" is from the Greek istim boli meaning "in the city", "to the city", or more simply "downtown".

So out of all the hundred or so poetic licenses taken to describe today's third largest city in the world, in 1930 the Turkish government proclaimed that from that day forward, all letters, packages, communiques, correspondence, and any other communication to or about this city should essentially be addressed: "Downtown".

"Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - The Four Lads, 1953

~information gathered from "the net", "the world wide web", or more generically..."online".

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