Golden Horn Ancient Harbour Of Istanbul
Istanbul Golden Horn District Places To See
The Golden Horn was the ancient natural harbour of Istanbul. The name “Golden Horn” is a direct translation of the Greek name Chrysokeras.
History Of The Golden Horn
The 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 and other maritime trade ships throughout history.
It is generally established that the name horn refers to horn-like shape, however where the word golden comes from is actually not clearly known. It is thought that it may refer riches brought to the city via the ancient harbor located along its shores, or it may refer tolively yellow light that blazes on the estuary’s waters as the sun sets over the city.
Where Is The Golden Horn?
Golden Horn is located in between the Istanbul’s Historic Peninsula (Fatih Municupality) and Istanbul’s New City (Beyoğlu Municupality). Southern bank of the Golden Horn is to see the Constantinople’s historic heritage. Northern bank is to enjoy the modern shopping & drinking areas.
Map of Istanbul Golden Horn
Bridges Of The Golden Horn
There are three major bridges crossing over the Golden Horn. The oldest and most famous one is the Galata Bridge which has connected the Historic Istanbul and new city Beyoğlu for hundreds of years. Galata Bridge is famous for its fishermen standing on each sidewalks of the bridge, trying to catch fish all day long.
There are lots of seafood restaurants under the bridge. From one side of the Galata Bridge there is the view of Galata Tower and Beyoğlu (New City) and on the other side is magnificent view of Historic Istanbul (Constantinople) and its distinctive mosques, palaces, bazaars.
The Atatürk Bridge is located on Golden Horn farther to the west, and higher Haliç Bridge (expressway bridge) is located yet farther west.
Places To See In The Districts Of Golden Horn
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
Eminönü – Spice Bazaar & Local Shopping Area
Eminönü district is the market and business area at the southern end of the Galata Bridge in Old Istanbul. 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: Shopping At Spice Bazaar In Istanbul
Fener (Phanar) – Greek Orthodox Church
Fener, whose old name was Phanarion, was a district in which Greek Orthodox Christians 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 district was a Christian and Balat district was a Jewish neighborhood.
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is still active as of today and open to visitors in this beautiful Fener (Phanar) district of Istanbul. The Church of St. George within the Patriarchate complex is a secret jewel in Istanbul with its incredible gold-leaf altar.
Further Reading: Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Balat (Palation) – Jewish Quarter
Balat was the Jewish district in the Ottoman period. 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 ships to Spain and brought this displaced community to Istanbul. Having had to emigrate from Spain, Jewish people were placed in Balat district.
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: Balat: 500 Years Old Jewish Quarter In Istanbul
Eyüp – Pierre Loti Hill (Panoramic View)
Located on the upper reaches of the Golden Horn, Eyüp is the regarded as a holy site; perhaps the holiest after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Eyüp Camii (Eyüp Mosque) is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Islamic world. Locals think that Süleymaniye Mosque is glorious, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) is beautiful but Eyüp Mosque is holy.
The Eyüp Mosque is built by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century, on the spot where Eyüp 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.
Hasköy – 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.
Karaköy – A hub in Istanbul’s New City
At the northern end of the Galata Bridge across Golden Horn lies the district called Karaköy.
Karaköy 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 Karaköy and Istiklal Avenue. You can get in this cable-car from Karaköy 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 Yüksek Kaldırım so that you can see some of the city’s fine old European houses, historical synagogues and famous Galata Tower.
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.
Further Recommended Reading:
Istanbul Golden Horn Blog Post By Serhat Engul