Hg2 : The Hedonist

Pierre Loti Café

Really this entry is just an excuse for us to tell you about Pierre Loti (1850–1923, real name Julien Viand). Sadly, the unabashedly romantic and Orientalist French novelist is largely forgotten, his prose being a little too purple for modern taste. Except, that is, among the Turks, who love him for the very good reason that he loved them. Here’s Pierre waxing lyrical about Istanbul in his novel Les Désenchantées: ‘As he felt deeply Turkish on this warm, clear evening… on the familiar esplanade in front of the Sultan Fatih’s mosque. He wanted to dream there, in the pure cool of the evening, and in the sweet Oriental peace, smoking hookahs while surrounded by dying splendour, decay, religious silence and prayer’. As for the Pierre Loti café, it’s situated northwest of the Old City at the top of a leafy hill above the Eyüp Sultan Cemetery, with unrivalled views over the Golden Horn and the city’s magnificent skyline. The management tentatively suggests that it might have been this café that Loti visited while staying in Eyüp in 1876. This claim may be the sort of thing medieval monks said about their saint’s relics, hoping to draw in the punters while knowing very well that their holy bones belonged to a sheep that died of the plague a few decades earlier. Nevertheless, it’s a quiet, calm, bucolic place of which Loti would have approved (but he would have hated the modern development, also called Pierre Loti, where your taxi may drop you off – head down the gravel path to the old tea garden).

GŸmŸsuyu Caddesi, Balmumcu Sokak 1,
+90 212 581 2696
Opening Times
daily, 9am-9pm
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