Golden Horn is an estuary inlet of the Bosphorus dividing European part of the city of Istanbul as a modern and historical part. For the long centuries it was a sheltered harbor for Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Genoas, Ottoman and other ships for thousands of years. Turkish name is "Halic" simply means "estuary". It’s Greek and English names mean the same; Keratios Kolpos, Golden Horn since shape and color of it.
It is 7.5 kilometers long and, at its widest, 750 meters across. Its maximum depth, where it flows into the Bosporus, is about 35 meters. It is today spanned by four bridges. Its forms a deep natural harbor for the peninsula it encloses together with the Sea of Marmara. The Byzantine Empire had its naval headquarters there, and walls were built along the shoreline to protect the city of Constantinople from naval attacks. At the entrance to the Horn, there was a large chain pulled across from Constantinople to the old Tower of Galata.
After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Mehmed the Conqueror, Greeks, Jews, Italian merchants, Gypsies and Turks begun to live along the Horn in the Phanar (Fener) and Balat districts which reflected the city's colorful ethnic mosaic.
Golden Horn was industrialized in 19th century and until 1980’s was full of different kind of factories even with shipyard. But in the 1980's an urban clean-up began, clearing up these factories and building proper sewage systems around the Golden Horn. Now, its shores are green once again with parks, promenades, and playgrounds.
Two districts; Fener and Balat are old neighborhoods of the Golden Horn, with traditional old wooden houses, Byzantine churches, and a couple of old synagogues belonging to the first Jewish community who was settled in Constantinople. The Orthodox Patriarchy resides here as well.
There are three bridges over Golden Horn; the Galata Bridge which connect old and new Istanbul was built in 1836 and rePALACE several time on the history and lastly in 1993. The Unkapani (also named as Ataturk) Bridge further up the Golden Horn handles the flow of traffic between Beyoglu and Sarachane. The third one over the Golden Horn is called the Halic Bridge with the highway passing through.
One more neighborhood in side is Eyüp, towards the end of the Golden Horn is an important site for Muslims who are coming to visit and pray for the tomb of Eyub El Ensari, who was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad and died during the Arab siege of Constantinople in the 7th century. Around the mosque and the hills are covered with cemeteries dating from the Ottoman period. The Pierre Loti Cafe on top of the hill overlooking the shrine is a peaceful PALACE to enjoy the view of the Golden Horn having a traditional Turkish coffee or tea.
PIERRE LOTI HILL and the CAFE
Julien Viaud (known as Pierre Loti) was a French writer, adventurer and officer. After being so many different PALACEs in world he come to Istanbul and of 19th century as a French naval officer. Stayed in Istanbul about fifteen years and wrote several books under the pen name of Pierre Loti. He wrote about daily life in Istanbul with local traditions. Most well known book of Pierre Loti is Aziyade which mentioned that it was his lover in Istanbul. He introduced Istanbul, Turkey and oriental life style to Europe. That’s the reason he is more famous in Turkey than Europe and France.
Pierre Loti used to come to the hill and small café overlooking Golden Horn and the city. After he passes away, the name of the hill has changed to call Pierre Loti Hill.
In Loti's time, the cafe was a simple, humble PALACE with a few stools and a small stove for brewing Turkish coffee.
Today the cafe (called as Pierre Loti Cafe) is far nicer, with shady tables, a variety of beverages and snacks, and even a hotel and full-fledged restaurant.
In our Bosphorus Tour (morning part of Highlights of Istanbul, Tour No: 2) apart from Bosphorus tour, we drive along the Golden Horn, climb and overlook to city from the hill and also ride down from the hill by the cable car.
If you come on your own and feel like walking, make the 15 minutes stroll uphill from Eyup through the picturesque cemetery. If not, take the cable car, and walk down to Eyup after your coffee.