10 Amazing Vintage Photographs of Istanbul in the 1910s

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The city today known as Istanbul has been the site of human settlement for approximately three thousand years. The settlement was founded by Thracian tribes between the 13th and 11th centuries BC, whose earliest known name is Lygos. It was colonised by the Greeks in the 7th century BC. It fell to the Roman Republic in AD 196, and was known as Byzantium until 330, when it was renamed Constantinople and made the new capital of the Roman Empire.

During late antiquity, the city rose to be the largest of the western world, with a population peaking at close to half a million people. Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which ended with the Muslim conquest in 1453. Constantinople then became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Here, below are 10 amazing photographs of Istanbul in the 1910s:

1. Balloons in Talimhane, 1910

Balloons were the first mechanisms used in air warfare and France was the first country who had successfully flown balloons in the last quarter of the 18th century. The Ottomans were behind developments. This photo which was taken in Talimhane in 1910 shows one of the first balloon experiments for the Turkish Air Force. It rises above the Istanbul skyline, and the curious crowd watching it.

2. Barry Family at Büyükada, ca. 1910-12

Barry family was one of the Levantine families in Constantinople, with roots going back to England and Italy. The father of Albert Barry, Joseph Barry, was the court dentist during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II. Albert Barry also was the dentist, worked in his office at Mısır Apartment in Beyoğlu until his death in 1962. He was also interested in photography. As he is not in the photo he may be the photographer of this photo which shows the Barry family at Büyükada around 1910-12.

3. Blue Mosque, 1919

Sultanahmet Mosque or popularly known as the Blue Mosque has always been the Istanbul’s most touristic attraction along with the Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Basilica Cistern and Galata Tower. This mosque has five main domes, six point three minarets, and eight secondary domes. It is said to be the last great mosques of the classical period. This photo shows the Blue Mosque in 1919.

4. Bomonti Beer Factory, ca. 1910s

Swiss brothers named Adolf and Walter Bomonti moved to Istanbul and established a brewery for a beer. It was Turkey’s first major beer factory, built in Istanbul in 1890, and later moved the factory in 1902 to the Bomonti neighbourhood. This photo shows the people enjoying their beer in the garden of Bomonti Beer Factory in the 1910s.

5. British Army on the İstiklal Street, January 1919

The “Sick Man of Europe” for over 100 years, Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers and entered World War I on October 28, 1914. The decision of the Ottoman Empire to enter the First World War was a catastrophic mistake which resulted in the empire’s occupation by the victorious allies. This photo is proof of this horrible mistake as it shows the occupation of Constantinople. The British troops of the “Army of Occupation of Constantinople” are awaiting General Allenby on the İstiklal Street in January of 1919.

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