Nicaea  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Nicaea or Nicea (Template:IPAc-en; Template:Lang-el, Níkaia; Template:Lang-tr) was an ancient city in northwestern Anatolia, and is primarily known as the site of the First and Second Councils of Nicaea (the first and seventh Ecumenical councils in the early history of the Christian Church), the Nicene Creed (which comes from the First Council), and as the capital city of the Empire of Nicaea following the Fourth Crusade in 1204, until the recapture of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1261.

The ancient city is located within the modern Turkish city of İznik (whose modern name derives from Nicaea's), and is situated in a fertile basin at the eastern end of Lake Ascanius, bounded by ranges of hills to the north and south. It is situated with its west wall rising from the lake itself, providing both protection from siege from that direction, as well as a source of supplies which would be difficult to cut off. The lake is large enough that it could not be blockaded from the land easily, and the city was large enough to make any attempt to reach the harbour from shore-based siege weapons very difficult.

The ancient city is surrounded on all sides by Template:Convert of walls about Template:Convert high. These are in turn surrounded by a double ditch on the land portions, and also included over 100 towers in various locations. Large gates on the three landbound sides of the walls provided the only entrance to the city.

Today the walls have been pierced in many places for roads, but much of the early work survives and, as a result, it is a major tourist destination.

History

Early history

[[File:Paolo Monti - Servizio fotografico (Iznik, 1962) - BEIC 6339289.jpg|thumb|Istanbul Gate, photo by Paolo Monti, 1962.]] thumb|250px|The Lefke Gate, part of Nicaea's city walls.

The place is said to have been colonized by Bottiaeans, and to have originally borne the name of Ancore (Ἀγκόρη) or Helicore (Ἑλικόρη), or by soldiers of Alexander the Great's army who hailed from Nicaea in Locris, near Thermopylae. The later version however was not widespread even in Antiquity.Template:Sfn Whatever the truth, the first Greek colony on the site was probably destroyed by the Mysians, and it fell to Antigonus I Monophthalmus, one of Alexander's successors (Diadochi) to refound the city ca. 315 BC as Antigoneia (Ἀντιγονεία) after himself. Antigonus is also known to have established Bottiaean soldiers in the vicinity, lending credence to the tradition about the city's founding by Bottiaeans. Following Antigonus' defeat and death at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC, the city was captured by Lysimachus, who renamed it Nicaea (Template:Lang, also transliterated as Nikaia or Nicæa; see also List of traditional Greek place names), in tribute to his wife Nicaea, who had recently died.Template:Sfn

Sometime before 280 BC, the city came under the control of the local dynasty of the kings of Bithynia. This marks the beginning of its rise to prominence as a seat of the royal court, as well as of its rivalry with Nicomedia. The two cities' dispute over which one was the pre-eminent city (signified by the appellation metropolis) of Bithynia continued for centuries, and the 38th oration of Dio Chrysostom was expressly composed to settle the dispute.Template:Sfn



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nicaea" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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