Pierre Loti, Istanbul

After visiting the Eyüp Sultan Mosque, many visitors head north up the hill to the Pierre Loti Café, where the famous French novelist is said to have come for inspiration. Loti loved ?stanbul, its decadent grandeur and the late-medieval customs of a society in decline. When he sat in this cafe, under a shady grapevine sipping tea, he saw a Golden Horn busy with caïques (long, thin rowboats), schooners and a few steam vessels. The water in the Golden Horn was still clean enough to swim in and the vicinity of the cafe was given over to pasture.

The cafe that today bears his name offers views similar to the ones he must have enjoyed. It’s in a warren of streets on a promontory surrounded by the Eyüp Sultan Mezarl??? (Cemetery of the Great Eyüp) where many important Ottomans are buried. To find the cafe, walk out of the mosque’s main gate and turn right. Walk around the complex (keeping it to your right) until you see a set of stairs and a steep cobbled path going uphill into the cemetery. Hike up the steep hill for 10 to 15 minutes to reach the cafe. Alternatively, a cable car joins the waterfront with the top of the hill. In the cafe, be sure to check your bill – we have found unexpected and unwarranted additions on ours in the past. There’s also a souvenir store here that sells postcards featuring historical views of the city.

 

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