Loti Cafe in Eyüp/Istanbul/Turkey

For Pierre Loti fans who have read the previous post, it might be of interest to know about the Loti Cafe on the hill of Eyüp overlooking the Golden Horn in istanbul. being one of his admirers  and fascinated readers, I did the ‘pilgrimage’ to both places.

Rochefort, France

Eyüp, Istanbul

For Muslims and people interested in Islam, its history and art, Eyüp is a place of pilgrimage and an absolute must see. The district is vast, but the best known and most frequently visited  part is  the hill which rises from the Eyüp pier along the shore of the Golden Horn. I took a ferry from the Galata Bridge on the Eminönü side and enjoyed a 20 minute boat trip, crossing the water fron one side to the other until at last arriving at Eyüp pier. To get up to the hill you can take the easy way or the more challenging one. The latter is to climb up on foot through the cemeteries which cover the hill until you reach the Pierre Loti Café. The easy way up is by funicular. I chose this one, not only out of laziness but because I also wanted to enjoy the fabulous view as the entire Golden Horn unfolds before your eyes.

View of the tombs from the funicular

Golden Horn

Ayyub al Ansari, the close friend and standard bearer of the prophet Mohammed died near here around 670 at the time of a first attempt by Arabs to conquer Constantinople. He was buried on the hill and his grave was forgotten, until Sultan Mehmet II was successful in 1453 and, so legend has it, his mentor rediscovered the tomb. Sultan Mehmet II ordered a mosque to be constructed, the first Ottoman mosque and a türbe over the tomb of Ayyub-al-Ansari. Since then, the mosque, türbe and other buildings have become an important place of worship for Muslims. More and more wanted to be buried near the old tomb and now the entire hill is covered with grave upon grave, many with elaborate head stones.

Walking around the complex of the Eyüp Sultan Mosque and  through the cemetery, shaded by cypress trees and listening only to the twitter of birds whilst contemplating the tranquil waters below is a spiritual experience, regardless to which religion you adhere to.

Then, of course, there are the followers and admirers of 19th century French novelist Pierre Loti, who not only fell in love with a Turkish lady who lived in a harem but with the country herself. Between his travels due to his profession as a naval officer, he returned to Istanbul many times, living in different places, among them a wooden house in Eyüp where he conducted his clandestine meetings with his beloved Aziyade. And got inspired for his novels by sitting in the café which bears his name, wandering around the cemeteries and waiting for the sun to set over the waters turning it golden and hence having given it its name.

Loti Cafe exterior

Memorabilia in the cafe

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5 Responses to Loti Cafe in Eyüp/Istanbul/Turkey

  1. Another great story and fab. photos.

  2. sappho1 says:

    Another fab story and excellent stories.

  3. Ceylan Zere says:

    Hidden gem of Istanbul! Great story combined by his house in France.
    I love his books! They give an amazing view of early 19th c Istanbul. We don’t miss the chance to stop at Pierre Loti cafe at the end of our History&Continuity walk which covers Golden Horn.

    • allnight3 says:

      It’s great to hear that you love his books. I thnik a Pierre Loti revival is overdue. Enjoy your istanbul culture walk and the Pierre Loti Cafe.

  4. Pingback: GlamourGranny Travels » Blog Archive » Istanbul – Madonna, Orhan Pamuk and my friends

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