Pierre Loti Hill is a lovely tea garden with a spectacular view over the Golden Horn that happens to be located inside one of Istanbul’s oldest and biggest graveyards. If sipping tea in a cemetery sounds a touch macabre, rest assured that the ambiance is far from it. This serene spot is popular with locals of all ages.
The hill is named after the French author and navy officer Pierre Loti, who fell in love with Istanbul after his first visit in 1876. Instead of settling in the Pera district like most Europeans, Loti moved to the holiest neighborhood of the city, Eyüp. He was captivated by the view from the hill, which he described as “thousands of gilded caiques dancing on the water; then the whole of Stamboul foreshortened, mosques, domes, and minarets, all huddled together in one confused blur.”
To reach the hill, take the cable car from the Eyüp Sultan complex. For a more adventurous approach, take a 15-minute walk through the graveyard to reach the top. It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Along the way, you’ll see the graves of some of Istanbul’s most famous politicians, writers, scientists, and public figures.
As you arrive, you will be greeted by the aroma of freshly brewed tea and the sound of people chatting and laughing. The large café area is filled with people sipping tea and eating gözleme. If all the best tables are taken, go to the vista point. Located northwest of the Golden Horn, the view from Pierre Loti Hill is surprisingly different from the Bosphorus classics. With the tranquil waterway, lavish greenery, and peaceful residences, visitors can see a different side of Istanbul.
Know Before You Go
While Pierre Loti Hill is well-known for its spectacular views, the Eyüp Sultan complex located below is a place to experience Istanbul’s holiest scene. The Eyüp Sultan complex is named after Ebu Eyyub el-Ensari, who was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad and died during a failed Arab siege of Constantinople. The mosque and tomb are open to visitors and are considered one of the most sacred destinations for Muslim pilgrims.