Istanbul, 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 Eminonu – Cemberlita? – Kuciik Aya Sofya – and back to Eminonu along the shore.
When the city became his capital in 330, Constantine extended the walls between Unkapani 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 Yedi-kule and Unkapani 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. Cemberlitas and the Nuruosmaniye Mosque;
3. The University and The Suleymaniye Mosque;
4. The Mosque of Fatih;
5. The Mosque of Sultan Selim;
6. The Edirne Gate;
7. The Mosque of Koca Mustafa Pasa.
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 Cemberlitas, then center of the Forum, and from there to the Forum of Theodosius or Tauri, now the universty. It then led on to the Forum Amastrianum (south of the Sehzade 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 (Cerrahpasa district) and the Koca Mustafa Pasa 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 state.