The position of İstanbul as a crossing between continents has always been a determining factor for the city. İstanbul held great importance for the historical cultures of Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Black Sea. In every era, city’ s rich natural environs and uniquely beautiful topography have made it an attraction. For thousands of years, from prehistory to ancient ages to modern times, the area has hosted human settlements, and today retains its quality as an important world center. For nearly sixteen centuries, it served as the capital of four empires: the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922).
İstanbul with its unique position that connects Asia and Europe, is one of the most important cities on earth. The important waterline dividing İstanbul into two is the Bosphorus. İstanbul is both the nearest Asian city to Europe and the nearest European city to Asia. The Bosphorus Strait on which it is positioned is a connecting point of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas to the south, and of the Black Sea, and the Danube, Dnieper and Don rivers to the north. İstanbul has always been a junction of trade.