Established at time of the conquest. Eyup was Istanbuls first Ottoman Turkish settlement. The district is located beyond the city walls on the south bank of the Golden Horn and takes name from the tomb of Eyyub al Ensari, a companion of the prophet Muhammed who is believed to have died during the Muslim siege of Istanbul in the 7th century.
Eyup began to develop shortly after the conquest. The first tangible sing of this were the tomb that Sultan Mehmed, the Conquerror had built over the grave of Eyub El-Ensari after his mentor. Aksemseddin saw the place in a dream and beside it mosque. The first settlers were from the Bursa and the first eigth neighbourhoods given the names Cami-i Kebir, Kasim Cavus, Uluca Baba, Abdulvedud, Sofular, Otaðcibasi, Fethi Celebi and Mehmed Bey.
The most intense period of development occured during the Kanuni Sultan Suleyman (Suleiman The Law Maker) in the 16th century. As well as the mosques, schools, fountains, tombs,hamams and alms kitchen that suddenly appeared, a succession of mansions and pavilions began to lime the shores. The tomb of Eyup El-Ensari, commonly known as Eyup Sultan Turbesi, has changed little over the years and occupies a central place in community life today, just as did in the past.
Besides the ceremonies of the sultans, one of the most striking features of Ottoman times was girding of swords at Eyup Sultan (taklid-i seyf). The ceremony, which was performed to prayers, had a religious spiritual quality and served to recall the significance of the new padisah’s standing. However, the tradition probably dates from before the conquest. The power of the head preiest at the Leon Makelos monastery which was sited here in the Byzantine period, included girding the emperor, military commander and nobles as they left for ward and consecrating the swords.
Another peculiarity that Eyup Sultan Turbesi brought the settlement was that many Ottomans wished to be buried there in order to bo close to the saint who lay entombed. The result was that a number of large cemeteries sprang up, which give the district its mystic quality. Eyup craftsmanship of the tombstones and the catalogue of inscriptions of they bear. At the same time, the cypress trees looming from amonth the graves seem to highlight th co-existence of life and death.
As well as the average man on the street, a large number of prominent public figures have chosen Eyup as their final resting place during both Ottoman period and days of the Republic.
Eyup Sultan Turbesi, which is perhaps one of the most celebrated sites of Eyup, draws vast crowds on religious feast days and public holidays. It is also place of pilgrimage fro newly-weds and circumcision parties. But Eyup was also famed for a host of other things; The fishermen who sell their bountiful catch from the Golden Horn, its florists and dairies, shoreline cafes,toy tabourines,drums and whistles, the toy makers of Eyup would have been kept busy under the spiritual leadership of Eyup Sultan, who is believed to have adored children.
However, the advent of the industrial age at the end of the 19th century and rapid spread of shanty towns after the 1960’s has more or less destroyed the traditional character of the district.