Ancient Harbour Of Istanbul Golden Horn
History of Golden Horn Map, Neighborhoods, Bridges
The Golden Horn was the ancient natural harbour of Istanbul. The name “Golden Horn” is derived from the ancient Greek name Chrysokeras. Once the Byzantine & Ottoman naval ships docked here.
History Of The Golden Horn during Byzantine Empire
Nowadays Golden Horn is known as Haliç (Hah-lech) in Turkish language. It is a major urban waterway and the primary inlet of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey.
The historic peninsula of Istanbul, historically known as Constantinople is divided by Golden Horn from the rest of the city. Golden Horn forms a natural and enclosed harbor which has protected Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman maritime trade ships throughout history.
According to popular belief the name “horn” refers to horn-like shape of the ancient harbour. The word “golden” comes from yellow light that blazes on the waters as the sun sets over the city.
Where Is The Golden Horn?
Golden Horn is located in between the Istanbul Old City (Fatih) and Modern Istanbul (Beyoglu).
Southern bank of the Golden Horn is to see the Constantinople‘s historic heritage. Whereas northern bank is to enjoy the energetic life of modern neighborhoods.
Many luxurious hotels have been opened around the Golden Horn shores recently. Some nice & comfortable chain hotels could be a good alternative to Staying in Sultanahmet or Taksim.
Istanbul Golden Horn Map
Istanbul Golden Horn Bridges
- Galata Bridge which connects Eminonu & Karakoy
- Ataturk Bridge connects the roads from Taksim to Old City
- Metro Bridge connects Marmara, Metro M2 and Taksim
- Halic Bridge highway from Business District to Airport
Galata Bridge Connects the Sultanahmet & Taksim
The oldest and most famous one is the Galata Bridge which ties the Istanbul Historic Peninsula and Modern City. Galata Bridge is famous for its fishermens. You may see hundreds of people fishing on each side of the bridge. There are many fish restaurants located under the bridge, some facing Bosphorus side and others facing Golden Horn side.
Eminonu, Sirkeci, Sultanahmet (Old City)
One end of the Galata Bridge is Eminonu which is considered as the transportation hub of Old City. Bus, ferry, tram and Marmaray passes through Eminonu.
Karakoy, Galata, Taksim (Modern Istanbul)
The other end is Karakoy which is the junction point of Modern Istanbul leading people to Taksim Square, Galata Tower or Bosphorus directions.
Map of Golden Horn Neighborhoods
The southern embankment of Golden Horn (Historic Istanbul) is obviously more interesting. There are Eminönü, Fener (Phanar), Balat (Palation), Eyüp districts on the South while Hasköy and Karaköy are located on the North.
Istanbul Golden Horn Map
Sirkeci & Eminonu – Spice Bazaar & Shopping Area
Eminönü district is the market and business area at the southern end of the Galata Bridge. Its ferry docks, tram line station and city bus stops make it a major transfer point in the Istanbul’s transport system.
The Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar) and New Mosque (Yeni Cami) are major tourist attractions. There are busy local marketplaces throughout the streets located around the Spice Bazaar.
Especially on Saturday you can hardly walk in the streets around vicinity of Spice Bazaar due to the crowd.
Furher Reading: Istanbul Spice Bazaar
Fener (Phanar) – Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Fener, whose old name was Phanarion, was a district in which Greek Orthodox folk lived during the Ottoman times. The most important aspect of the district and its periphery is that they reflect Istanbul’s history and cosmopolitanism in a perfect way.
Neighboring Cibali district was a Muslim, Fener Neighborhood was a Christian and Balat district was a Jewish neighborhood. Therefore it represents the cosmopolitan life of old Istanbul.
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is still active as of today and open to visitors in Fener (Phanar) district of Istanbul. The Church of St. George within the Patriarchate complex is a secret jewel in Istanbul.
Further Reading: Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
The Patriarchal Church St. George’s Cathedral in Fener
Balat (Palation) – Former Jewish Quarter
Balat was the Jewish quarter in the Ottoman Istanbul. Beginning with Byzantine period, there was a Jewish settlement there. Christian Monarchs who ended the Arab existence in Spain did not want any religious folks other than Christians to live in Spain. (1490s)
Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II sent Turkish ships to Spain and brought this displaced community to Istanbul. Having had to emigrate from Spain, Jewish people were placed in Balat neighborhood.
Balat is famous for its colourful historical houses today. There are churches, synagogues and mosques all around Balat streets. This neighborhood is one of the best places to take photos in Istanbul.
Further Reading: Istanbul Balat Neighborhood
Old Wooden Houses of Balat Neighborhood of Golden Horn
Eyup Mosque & Pierre Loti Hill (Cable Car & View)
Located on the upper reaches of the Golden Horn, Eyup (Eyyub) is the regarded as a holy site; perhaps the holiest after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.
Eyup Sultan Mosque is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Islamic world. Locals think that Süleymaniye Mosque is glorious, Blue Mosque is beautiful and Eyüp Mosque is holy.
The Eyup Mosque is built by Sultan Mehmet II in the 15th century, on the spot where Ayyub Al Ansari, an elderly companion of the Prophet Mohammed, fell during the first Arab siege of Constantinople in 688.
You can consider taking a cable car to reach the Pierre Loti Hill which was made famous by the French poet and author Julien Viaud in 1800s. There is a great view of the Golden Horn from the top of this hill.
The view of Golden Horn from Pierre Loti Hill
Haskoy – Rahmi Koç Museum
The Rahmi Koç Museum is the major sight of this district. This museum is a fascinating private collection of anything involving science, technology and transport.
Rahmi M. Koc Museum of Istanbul Golden Horn
Karakoy – A hub in Istanbul’s New City
At the northern end of the Galata Bridge across Golden Horn lies the district called Karakoy.
Karakoy is among the city’s oldest and most historic districts, and is today an important transportation point, similar to Eminönü, which is located the opposite end of Galata Bridge.
There is an underground train (TUNEL) with two stops in Karakoy and Istiklal Street. You can get in this cable-car from Karakoy stop and reach Tunnel Square, which is the starting point of Istiklal Avenue.
The other option is to walk up the steep hillside to Galata Tower throughout the street named Yuksek Kaldirim so that you can see some of the historical synagogues (Neve Shalom & Ashkenazi S ynagogue) and Galata Tower.
Karakoy Gulluoglu Best Baklava & Turkish Dessert Shop
The most famous baklava shop of the city, Karaköy Güllüoğlu, is located on Karaköy shore. Güllüoğlu is a common visiting point by people who enjoy traditional Turkish deserts.
Gulluoglu Shop in Karakoy, Golden Horn
Further Recommended Reading:
- Best Things To Do in Istanbul
- Best Places to Visit in Istanbul
- Best Photography Spots in Istanbul
- Best Fish Restaurants in Istanbul
- Best Shopping Malls in Istanbul
- Best Restaurants in Istanbul
- Best Coffee Shops in Istanbul
- Fener Balat Walking Tour
- Istanbul Museum Pass Card
- Istanbul Tourist Attraction Map
- Istanbul Fun things to do for Kids
Istanbul Golden Horn bridges, neighborhoods, hotels blog post By Serhat Engul