Eyüp is the sacred region of the city. While you’re walking around the district, you feel the aura and you don’t need to be a Muslim for sense it. Its name, Eyüp, comes from Ebu Eyyüb el-Ensari who was the companion of Prophet Muhammad. Eyyüb came to Constantinople with Arab army to conquer the Constantine but he couldn’t go back as he died in Istanbul. After Fatih Sultan occupied Constantine, his spiritual mentor found out about Eyyüb’s cemetery. Fatih Sultan Mehmed ordered a mausoleum to be built as his cemetery and a mosque. It’s the story of Eyüp Sultan Mosque which constructed for his honour. Eyüp Sultan Mosque was the first mosque and Eyüp was the first settlement outside of city walls, expanded around the mosque.
Eyüp became an agora for dervish lodges (Islamic monastery). Islamic monasteries have a special place in Sufi literature and art. It means that Eyüp became a centre of literature, philosophy, music and art. Now, these art and literature academies are awaiting for restoration. Karyağdı Ali Baba Tekkesi, Ümmi Sinan Tekkesi, Sertarikzade Tekkesi, Şeyh Murad Efendi Tekkesi, Selami Bey Tekkesi (naqshbandi tariqa) are some of dervish lodges located in Eyüp.
Karyağdı Ali Baba Tekkesi, Bektashi Tariqa, is located around Pierre Loti. Ottoman intellectuals and janissaries followed this tariqa for many years. In 1828, bektashi tariqa was forbidden and janissary Guild were closed by Second Mahmud. Bahariye Mevlevihanesi, last dervish lodge of Istanbul, raised many artists up. Zekai Dede Efendi, his son Ahmet Irsoy, Rauf Yekta, Suphi Ezgi are couple of important musicians who grown up in here. Abdülbaki Gökpınarlı who is known as the last important figure of Sufi literature, was also grown up in the same dervish lodge.
Besides this divine character, Eyüp had a special political character, too. Sultans used to have ceremony of accession to the throne in Eyüp (Cülüs Töreni). Sultans pray at Eyüp Sultan Mosque, visit the tombs and put on Prophet Sword and ride a horse on Cülüs Yolu (Cülüs Way). Putting on sword of Prophet was showing that Ottoman Sultan was also caliph of all the Muslims in the world. Ottoman Sultans always preferred title of sultan rather than caliph which is leading title.
You may expect to have this feeling of visiting is an open air museum when you are in Eyüp. With the help of Ottoman architecture, it takes you to the past and makes you feel peaceful and mystical. Julien Viaud, known as Pierre Loti, was a French novelist who felt the mystic and spiritual character of the region and lived in Eyüp. He wrote his first novel (Aziyade) in Istanbul. His name was given to the hill located in Eyüp. It’s very touristic right now after a successful commercial campaign. The name of the coffee shop at the top of the hill and middle of the cemetery changed to Pierre Loti Coffee Shop. Many tourist and residents of the city now go there by telpher to have a coffee or tea while enjoying the view of Golden Horn.
Eyüp has many spots to visit but Cellat Mezarlığı (Hangman Cemetery) has an original story representing an interesting custom of Ottomans. Ottoman society never accept the concept of being hangman as moral thing that’s why hangmen were never buried in normal cemeteries. They had their own special cemetery in Eyüp and their gravestones were in special size, shape with no writing on it. Müzisyenler Kahvesi (Musicians Cafe) is nice place to sit and have a tea. It is another nice spot with a nice view of Golden Horn. The importance of this cafe is different as it was used as a meeting place for Ottoman intellectuals at that times. Also, composers and musicians from dervish lodges such as Dede Efendi gave lessons in this cafe.
Mağlova Kemeri (Mağlova Aqueduct) is an amazing work of Mimar Sinan located in Eyüp. It was built after the order of Sultan Süleyman who let Mimar Sinan an unlimited budget to spend as much as he needed. Finally, he designed and built an amazing aqueduct which is unique and matchless all over the world.
Santral Istanbul just another building that stayed from those years. It is became one of the biggest concert area in Istanbul. Once the first power unit of Ottoman Empire the complex now houses art studio, library, and educational buildings belonging to Istanbul Bilgi University which opened in 2007.