Eminonu crowded? Not at all@South of the Golden Horn, west of the Bosphorus and north of the Sea of Marmara, Eminönü has long been the meeting point of traders, sailors and people looking for a bargain. Back in Ottoman times, it was home to the Empire’s official Customs Office and numerous private customs houses. It’s believed that the name in part stems from the word emin, meaning the officials tasked with controlling the taxation, storage and record keeping for all goods being traded. “Önü” means “in front of” in Turkish, suggesting that the name Eminönü refers to the area where the custom houses once stood. These custom houses formed the entry point for newly arrived goods, people and ideas. Located on yarımada, the peninsula housing Topkapı Palace, the country’s seat of power, and Sirkeci Station, which connected Turkey to its lands in the east, Eminönü was once an important place.

Automated dolma rollers going cheap!


This warren of narrow streets, housing mosques, working han, sacred tombs and people hiding from justice, was fed by a constant stream of new arrivals coming on the sailing boats, and later steamboats that docked nearby. Daily the air rang with the cries of tea vendors, water sellers, hamal (porters) and the myriad of vendors selling wares from all corners of the vast Empire. But at night, then the city gates were locked tight, Eminönü remained outside on the outskirts of civilisation.

Over the years the strategic importance of Eminönü waned. First Dolmabahçe Palace was built in 1853 and the royal court moved away from the peninsula to the other side of the Bosphorus. Then Ankara was established as the capital in place of Istanbul in the 20th century. Nonetheless, Eminönü continued to evolve as the growing nation needed more goods to supply its voracious demand.

Today this waterside area is a vibrant, noisy, dirty, messy sprawl of streets. On any given day they’re packed with people out shopping and you’ll be deafened by conversations held in Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish and English. Women hunting down the best deals on ceyiz items (things for a bride’s glory box) and pardesu (long coats worn by modest Muslim Turkish women). Mothers after the finest sunnet (circumcision) outfits. Arab tourists on honeymoon or hair implant trips (link to moustaches) looking to buy shoes, handbags and jewellery. Porters bursting through the crowds carrying impossibly heavy loads. Itinerant vendors selling novelty kitchen items like dolma rollers (small machines used to automatically make dolma) and narmatik that take the hard work out of deseeding pomegranates. Syrian refugees making a living working in small shops.

The word emin also means certain, and when you enter the streets of Eminönü you can be sure you’ll find a bargain, have an adventure and see something new.

I bet you weren't expecting to see these little critters!


Share Button

About Goreme1990

I’m Lisa Morrow, the person behind www.insideoutinistanbul.com. I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up a leafy middle class North Shore suburb. After finishing high school I went to Sydney University but failed to find my niche. After working as a public servant, cleaner, sales assistant, waitress, bar maid and car counter, I went overseas. Once there I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme changed my life. On my return to Australia I earned a BA Honours Degree in Sociology from Macquarie University. An academic career beckoned but the call to travel was louder. After several false starts I moved to Turkey and lived there for ten years. In 2017 I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, but continue to travel regularly to Istanbul. In addition to my blog I've written a travel narrative memoir called "Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul" and two collections of essays, "Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City" and "Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries". I have a regular segment on San Francisco Turkish radio and in early 2017 I released an audio walking tour called "Stepping back through Chalcedon: Kadikoy Walk", through VoiceMap. In addition I write for various international and Australian magazines and websites, as well as for this blog. A full list of my published articles, with links, can be found on the Writing on Turkey and Writing Beyond Turkey pages.
This entry was posted in Discover Istanbul, History & Politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Eminönü

  1. isam says:

    Eminönü this part of Istanbul, one day I am traviling to visit the city when I got to the airport I took the Metro from the Asian side to the west side it took me about one hour to find my selef in Eminonu I took the side of sea start feeling the waves from the sea and smiled it.
    then i pas my eyes over abnd take alook thire is amoseq you can sea the you can sea big shipes around the area while I started to walk around thire is a brige bwteen to side of western part alot of people walking around every thing like you are dreaming as I still untill know see all the land scape in this parts of the heart of the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *