05 October 2013


Earlier in September I decided to visit Eyüp to both enjoy some of the last of the warm summer weather and to also continue my goal to explore more areas of Istanbul off the tram line. And I'm so glad I did! Eyüp was absolutely charming.

No idea what this is but it was interesting.

Right away I was excited to go to Eyüp as the best way to reach it is by vapur, or ferry boat, which leaves the port at Eminönü at 10 to every hour. Granted from where I love in Cevizlibağ it's a pretty long trip, took about an hour and half all together. Which, considering Eyüp is only one or two municipalities over from Cevizlibağ, is a ridiculously long trip*. However one of my favorite things about Istanbul is riding the ferry boats I didn't so much mind the long trip.

Cable car to Pierre Loti over the cemetery

Eyüp square right off the docks
Eyüp is quite a large municipality and district in Istanbul extending from the Golden Horn on the Bosphorus all the way to the Black Sea. It's an historically important part of the city, actually even pre dating Istanbul. It is the home of the Eyüp Sultan Mosque, one of the most important mosques to Turkey's Muslims. Unfortunately when I went, while it was open, it was covered with scaffolding and tarps as part of a restoration project. Unobstructed was the large Muslim cemetery that spreads around the Eyüp Sultan Mosque and up to the top of the hill where the famous Pierre Loti cafe is located.

Woman's tombstone

Womens' tombstones
According to what I read, cemeteries were built to be like gardens, which is why flowers are carved onto so many women's tombstones. Apparently one flower for every child they had. These gardens were to be enjoyed and walked about in, not feared, which is why so many paths are laid throughout them. To get to the top of the hill to the Pierre Loti cafe you can either take the cable car or walk up through the cemetery.

Tombstones of pashas and civil servants
I like cemeteries just fine, in fact they're one of my favorite things to photograph. But if I'm given the choice between walking up a bunch of stairs and a cable car, I'm choosing the cable car.

Eyüp itself was very charming and enjoyable. Laid out around several squares, all with one or more fountains, there was a very villagey feel to it. A bustling village to be sure but the pace was certainly much slower than Istanbul itself. Even the more touristy areas of  Eyüp were quieter without people constantly yelling "lady, lady!" at me or trying to get me to buy a carpet. I think I need "Halı istemem" (I don't want a carpet) tattooed on my forehead. I did do a little shopping though. I found a shop with tunics and fell to talking with the proprietor. Turns out his mother (to whom he introduced me) is Turkish but he was born and raised in one of my favorite cities, Sarajevo. Despite the Turkish crowding my brain at the moment I was able to dredge up some Serbian ... which got me a discount on the tunic I bought :)

The long wait for the cable car was totally worth it. A) I got to avoid stairs and B) the view of the cemetery as we passed above it was lovely. The view at the top was nothing to sneer at either. I didn't end up sitting for a tea at Pierre Loti as it was very busy that day, but I took advantage of its amazing views. People say that Galata Tower is the best place for a view of Istanbul, I say save your money riding up an elevator and take the cable car in Eyüp instead!

I wasn't quite sure when heading off that morning if the trip was really going to be worth it or not, really it was the promise of a ferry boat ride that got me out of the house. In the end though I'm very glad I went and would recommend Eyüp as a nice side trip if you're in Istanbul; especially if you want to slow down a little bit.

*I was right about how close Eyüp is to my place. I was too lazy to spend another 90 minutes getting home so I took a cab instead...which took a grand total of 10 minutes. Maybe less. It was worth it to ride the ferry though.

Coming soon...my return to Georgia!

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