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The Golden Horn
The Golden Horn

The Golden Horn (Halic) is Istanbul's natural harbour and one of the reasons for its historical wealth and greatness.

Today the Golden Horn is densely settled on all sides and there are parks along each shore. The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce is located here. The Galata Bridge connects the districts of Galata and Eminonu. The Fener and Balat districts, surrounded by 5th century Byzantine city walls, are also located near the Golden Horn. For centuries these were the centres of Istanbul's Greek, Armenian and Jewish populations. The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch has his residence in Fener. 

These days, the districts around the Golden Horn are mostly inhabited by recent migrants from Anatolia. Many houses are in urgent need of repair. From 2003 to 2007 the Rehabilitation of Fener and Balat Districts Programme, a joint programme of the European Union and Fatih Municipality, was implemented. The EU provided a total of 7 million euros and a total of 87 houses and 33 shops in the historic market were renovated. The programme also paid for two social centres and a range of social activities. Likewise, a better waste collection system was established.

Due to rapid population growth and industrialization from the 1950s onwards the Golden Horn suffered from industrial waste and sewage problems. Some of the districts near the Golden Horn, including Kasimpasa, home to many migrants from the Black Sea area (including the family of the current prime minister, Recep T. Erdogan), developed a rough reputation.


The Golden Horn. Photo: flickr/kozzmen

In the 1980s a long overdue urban cleanup began. Polluting factories were closed. Former industrial sites were converted to new uses. One of the best examples is the new campus of Bilgi University, Santral. Other universities are located nearby, new parks and museums have been opened. It looks as if, after a glorious past and a difficult last century, the Golden Horn can look forward to a bright future as one of Istanbul's richest cultural landscapes.

October 2008

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