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Eyüp | © Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Eyüp | © Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

The Top Things to See and Do in Eyüp, Istanbul’s Historic Neighborhood

Picture of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Updated: 15 November 2017

A very important neighborhood for Muslims due to the many historic mosques and tombs, Eyüp is also a favorite among visitors who gaze at the Ottoman-era structures as well as the view from the famous Pierre Loti Café.

Located on the Golden Horn and stretching toward the Black Sea, the Eyüp neighborhood is quite far removed from the usual tourist destinations but has enough historic structures to be a point of interest in its own right. With a history that goes back to the Byzantine period, Eyüp was used as a burial site for a long time due to its location outside the city. However, it wasn’t until Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (a close companion of Muhammad) was buried in Eyüp that the area became sacred, especially when Mehmed II ordered the construction of a marble tomb and the Eyüp Sultan Mosque.

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Eyüp | © Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

From then on, it also became a tradition that all Ottoman sultans were girt with the Sword of Osman at the mosque upon accession. The neighborhood saw the construction of more mosques, tekkes, fountains, and the cemetery where most Ottoman officials wished to be buried (due to its proximity to Abu Ayyub’s tomb). During the golden era of the Ottoman Empire, Eyüp was one of Istanbul’s most important areas located outside the city and its walls.

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Eyüp | © Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Eyüp lost some of its prominence as the Industrial Revolution spurred the construction of factories by the Golden Horn, one of the most prominent being Feshane, where the famous fezzes of the Ottoman armies were manufactured (nowadays serving as an impressive exhibition center). Today, Eyüp is an area that’s mostly populated by conservative Muslim families, and the Eyüp Sultan Mosque continues to be a place of pilgrimage, especially during Ramadan and Friday prayers.

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Eyüp | © Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

However, Eyüp has also become a place for tourists who can wander among the many historic structures that are displayed on visitor map signs all around the neighborhood. Another major attraction is the Pierre Loti Café, which is reachable by foot through the large Eyüp Cemetary that covers the entirety of the hill, or by taking the gondola lift. Named after the 19th-century French writer Pierre Loti, the café has an amazing panoramic view of the Golden Horn and the city.

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Eyüp | © Feride Yalav-Heckeroth