Monday, September 10, 2012

Turkish Cities -- then and now

For students of history, Asia Minor is a gold mine of sites of historical significance.  From Alexander the Great to the Roman Empire, to the era of the Crusades, the great cities of Asia Minor have figured prominently.

File:Hagia Sophia (5 Aug 2008).jpg
Hagia Sophia in Constantinople -- now Istanbul.

File:Map Byzantine Empire 1025-en.svg
The Byzantine (East Roman) Empire in 1025AD, under Emperor Basil II.

A particular difficulty is that many of the these famous places now go under different names than they did in the Classical or Crusader era.  What I have done here is compile a list of cities -- listing first their old, perhaps more familiar, name in Italics, and then the new, Turkish name, in Bold.  I have also included the briefest of historical notes for each city, to jog the gentle reader's memory.  Enjoy!
  • ConstantinopleIstanbul.  Capital of the Eastern Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires.  Of course, it was, and still is, the seat of the successor of St. Andrew the Apostle, the Patriarch of Constantinople.


  • AdrianopleEdirne.  Site of the great battle where the Emperor Valens was defeated by Goths in 378AD.


  • NicaeaIznik.  Site of the first Ecumenical Council in 325AD where the Divinity of Christ was defined.  In the 13th century a capital of the Byzantine Empire of Nicaea; this when Constantinople was ruled by a Latin Empire.
  • NicomediaIzmit.  This city was a Roman capital, and home of Diocletian, before Constantine shifted the seat to Constantinople.

  • SmyrnaIzmir.  Significant Greek port city; St. Polycarp was bishop here.


  • Myra Demre.  This city had the distinction of being the See of St. Nicholas.


  • Alexandretta – Iskenderun.  Founded to commemorate a victory of Alexander the Great and a notable seaport.


  • AntiochAntakya.  Seat of Patriarch.  St. Peter the Apostle was once bishop here, in this city where the followers of Christ were first called Christians.  It was also the center of a significant Crusader state.


  • Angora Ankara.  The modern capital of Turkey was famous for its wool.


  • Iconium Konya.  This city played a role in several Crusades that crossed Anatolia.


  • Dorylaeum Eskisehir.  This was the site of a significant battle of the First Crusade.


  • Caesarea Kayseri.  This was an important road junction and trade center.  St. Basil the Great was bishop here.


  • SebasteiaSivas.  This was the home city of St. Blaise in Eastern Turkey.


  • Edessa Sanliurfa.  There is much that could be said about this city, with its links to the Shroud of Turin, St. Thomas the Apostle, and the Crusader state.

Live well!

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