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Golden Horn Guide

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The Golden Horn, or ‘Haliç’ in Turkish, is a narrow freshwater estuary which snakes through the two European sides of the city and comes out at the Marmara Sea.  It effectively splits the two faces of Istanbul - with the historical districts of Eminönü, Eyüp, Fener and Balat on one side and the newer suburbs of Beyoglu and Karaköy on the other.

The Golden Horn is thought to have taken its name from its former popularity as a trading centre. Following the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans it became a popular place of settlement for Greeks, Jews, Italians and Christians as well as Muslims. This is evident in the variety of churches, mosques, synagogues and cemeteries which can be found close to the shoreline today, particularly in the Balat and Fener districts. The best of these include the cast iron Bulgarian Church of St. Stephen, and the Eyup Sultan Mosque and Mausoleum.

Other sites of interest along the shores of the Golden Horn include the miniature theme park, Miniaturk,  the Rahmi Koç Museum of transport, communications and industry, and the former power station Santral Istanbul, which now functions as a spectacular tribute to modern Turkish art.

Although the Golden Horn has traditionally suffered from problems with substandard housing and pollution, big efforts have been made to clean up and restore the waterway and the suburbs lining it. This has certainly paid off and the Golden Horn is an up-and-coming area to visit in Istanbul.

For one of the best views in the city, head to the Pierre Loti Café in Eyup, which is named after a well known French writer who spent some time in Istanbul.

1st photo: St. Stephen Church  © Ali Basarir
2nd photo: Golden Horn © Yildirim Incealemdaroglu

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