Eyüp is the most sacred place in Istanbul – it is where Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, the standard bearer of the Prophet is said to have fallen during one of the Arab sieges of the city, a spot miraculously discovered during the final, successful Ottoman siege of 1453. As the holiest of holy places, it became the most desirable place to be buried on the European side of the Bosphorus. Eyup is home to one of the city’s largest graveyards and lends its name to the district around the tomb of this Muslim saint.
The approach from the sea was unforgivably spoilt by a new main road, but once inside the precints of the Eyüp Mosque (rebuilt in the late 18th century), this is a place with atmosphere. A fenicular saves you the shlep up the hill to the Pierre Loti Café, with its famous view down the Golden Horn. The Zal Mahmut Pasha Mosque is another fascinating Sinan essay. The sacred shrine of Eyüp himself is plastered with a mosaic of fascinating Iznik tiles. A janissary band often plays on Fridays.
Catch the ferry from Karaköy or Eminönü, and sail up the golden horn in style.
The easy way is to take a taxi to the Pierre Loti Café, then walk down through the cemetery.