The Eyup Mosque
The Eyüp Sultan Mosque is the holiest site in Istanbul and one of the most sacred places in the Islamic world.
The mosque was erected by Mehmet the Conqueror over the tomb of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyûb (known as Eyüp Sultan), the standard bearer for the Prophet Mohammed as well as the last survivor of his inner circle of trusted companions.
It is popularly accepted that while serving as commander of the Arab forces during the siege of 668 to 669, Eyüp was killed and buried on the outskirts of the city. One of the conditions of peace after the Arab siege was that the tomb of Eyüp be preserved.
The burial site was "discovered" during Mehmet the Conqueror's siege on the city, although the tomb is mentioned in written accounts as early as the 12th century. A little village of tombs mushroomed on the spot by those seeking Eyüp Sultan's intervention in the hereafter, and it's still considered a privilege to be buried in the nearby cemeteries.
The Girding of the Sword ceremony was traditionally held here. In this Ottoman enthronement rite, Osman Gazi's sword was passed on, maintaining continuity within the dynasty as well as creating a connection with the Turk's early ideal of Holy War.
What to See
Eyüp is a popular spot animated by the small bazaar nearby, crowds relaxing by the spray of the fountains, and little boys in blue and white satin celebrating their impending circumcisions. Unfortunately, it's a natural magnet for beggars as well.
The baroque mosque replaces the original that was destroyed in the earthquake of 1766, but the real attraction here is the türbe, a sacred burial site that draws masses of pilgrims waiting in line to stand in the presence of the contents of the solid silver sarcophagus or meditate in prayer.
Address: Eyüp. Meydani, off of Camii Kebir Caddesi and north of the Golden Horn bridge
Phone: No phone
Hours: Daily 9am-6pm
Dress code: No shorts, and heads covered for women.
Tip: The line moves quickly in spite of the bottleneck inside the tomb; take a few moments to sense the power of the site.