Overlooking the Golden Horn in Eyüp, Pierre Loti hill offers a spectacular panoramic view of Istanbul's seven hills. Linger here for a while and partake in the Turkish art of keyif - the art of idle relaxation - at one of the rustic teahouses and restaurants that immerse you in one of Istanbul's most captivating and romantic locations.
The hill is named after Pierre Loti, a French novelist and naval officer who penned his first novel, Aziyadé, after sojourning in the teahouses here in 1876. The novel, originally published anonymously, detailed a semi-autobiographical love story about Loti’s forbidden affair with a Circassian harem girl named Aziyadé. The love between the 27-year-old officer and the 18-year-old woman was so enduring that Aziyadé died of a broken heart when Loti left Istanbul. Legend also says Loti always wore a gold ring inscribed with her name.
Loti’s subsequent novel, La Turquie Agonisante (Turkey in Agony), went on to win the hearts of the new Turkish Republic, which then named a cafe and avenue on Eyüp hill in honor of the author. The name has stayed, the tales remain, and the view continues to inspire the artist within many.
To get there, take a bus or ferry from Eminönü to Eyüp, then take the cable car near Eyüp port to the top, or wander past the Eyüp mosque and up through an old Ottoman cemetery. Avoid going on the weekends when crowds vie for the best seats in the house. Alcohol is forbidden due to the proximity to Eyüp mosque.