Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | February 2, 2010

getting to eyup: advice from molly’s cafe

eyup is a beautiful place up the golden horn, easy to get to from either side of the horn.  i often advise tourists to go there, so this is how you can find it.

first, eyup is important for its mosque and the tomb of one of the followers of mohamed, abu ayub al-ansari.  his grave was found sometime after the turks arrived and they built the tomb over it.  the place was originally settled way before the turks, as there were churches and a settlement there.  it is outside the old city walls, but even so it has always had an important place in the history of istanbul.  sultans would go to the mosque to be blessed, or the muslim equivalent, and even today important people visit the mosque for special times, for example, ramazan or kurban bayram (feast of the sacrifice).

from the galata bridge area, there are a few ways you can get to eyup.  one is to catch a city bus.  if it says “eyup” on the board, get on and ask to be sure, “eyup? eyup?”  someone on the bus will make sure that you get off at the right place.  of course you can take a taxi, for probably 10 lira or so. another way to get there is to take the little ferry.  it is back behind the place where all the city busses gather.  it doesn’t run often, maybe every 45 minutes, so you take your chances.  last summer i went with my friends and we would have had to wait for quite a while, so i decided we should take one of the little boats that go up the horn.  the kaptan of the one we took initially wanted 60 lira, but i knew that was outrageous, so we settled on 30.  it is more than a taxi ride, but it is much more enjoyable.

on the golden horn in a putt putt boat

you are at water level and you pass by such sites as the bulgarian orthodox church (built in the 19th century of prefabricated cast iron– and i was told it is sinking .5 cm a year.  i know for sure it is rusting), the koc museum of science and technology, with the submarine moored outside, and various ancient and not so ancient buildings.

about 15 years ago the golden horn was a stinky polluted mess.  a taxi driver once told me that you had to plug your nose as you went over the bridge.  however, many factories have been closed or moved, and now the water does not smell.  i would not want to swim in it, but it looks as blue as it should.

when you get to eyup, you can take the teleferik up to the top of the hill.  the city did a pretty good job of building it so it more or less blends in with the surroundings, a huge cemetery.

teleferik view

when you get to the top, there is a platform for looking at the view up the golden horn towards the bosphorus, really worth it.  of course you have to have tea or a soda (mineral water) at pierre loti tea garden.  it is called pierre loti after the pseudonymous writer of some novels set in istanbul.  one of them concerns his love affair with a beautiful woman from a rich man’s harem, who was somehow able to get away to visit him in eyup.

view from pierre loti 2003

there is a fabulous view from up there and it has probably not changed incredibly much since pierre loti sat and did his writing in the mid 1800s.

from the tea garden you can walk down the cobbled path towards the mosque.

grave stones in eyup cemetery

many of the old gravestones are topped by turbans or flowered hats, which show the gender or status of the person.  since the 1920s the engravings have been written in the latin alphabet.  most just give the name and give the equivalent of rest in peace, but some also have something to say.  it is very pleasant to amble down this road, peering through the gravestones towards the golden horn.

at the bottom, you will find your way to the mosque, which is close.  if it is not prayer time, you can enter, but you must have your knees covered and women must cover their heads.

cover up, boys!

i went with a couple of male friends one time and they had to put on skirts!  there are headscarves available for women to put on. the mosque itself is very nice to look at, though it is not my absolute favourite (more about that another time).  muslims are very serious about this mosque and still give reverence to abu ayup al ansari. newly married couples go there to pray,

wedding party

as do boys who have been or are about to be circumcised.

shopping in eyup

as you leave the mosque area there are some kiosks selling various things like korans, talismans, and prayer rugs, as well as clothing and simple makeup.  eyup used to be the place of toymakers, but i think they are long gone.

once you walk out of the area and back to the shore road, you can take your choice of how to return to where you started.  it is a lovely outing, and i highly recommend it. now, thanks to molly’s cafe, you know how to get there!


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