Istanbul’s Golden Horn is a major urban waterway, its distinctive horn-shape a standout on the city map.
Also known as Halic, it’s the primary inlet of the Bosphorus Strait, a horn-shaped estuary where the strait meets the Sea of Marmara, forming a narrow peninsula with Old Istanbul at its tip. The Golden Horn separates the city’s historic centre from the rest of the city, forming a natural, sheltered harbour that’s acted as a refuge for ships for thousands of years.
While it’s clear from its shape why this waterway has been designated a “horn”, the origins of the world “golden” are lost to time, although historians believe it’s either a reference to the riches that have entered the city, or the way the estuary appears at sunset, with the yellow light reflecting upon the water.
The deep natural harbour has long been an economic attraction and military stronghold, and people have lived on the Golden Horn for at around 9000 years, with sophisticated ports, storage facilities and communities.
Modern-day Golden Horn
Today, the Golden Horn is settled on both sides and is lined with large parks and residences, cemeteries, museums, cultural attractions and universities. It’s a rich, interesting area that attracts up to 10 million international visitors each year.
The Golden Horn is made up of Eyup, Bayrampasa and Gaziosmanpasa.
With a population of around 240,000 people living in a working class residential area, and a significant industrial area, Bayrampasa is one of the areas earmarked for urban regeneration in the city. A large swathe of poor quality housing is set for demolition and replacement.
Eyup extends from the Golden Horn all the way to the Black Sea. It’s a historically important area, especially for Muslims. The area had a reputation for being dirty but has cleaned up a lot in past years, and now Eyup is a popular Friday destinations for Muslims, who visit the popular Eyup Sultan Mosque, and its busy surrounding market.
This working class suburb has a population of around 400,000, making it one of the city’s most populous districts. Formerly an empty, rocky pasture, the area was settled by immigrants from the Balkans from the 1950s. Much of the housing that was built was illegal - dwellings that are now being demolished as part of the city’s urban regeneration programme. Money is being poured into Gaziomanpasa for infrastructure and construction improvement, and a number of new leisure facilities such as sports facilities, theatres, shopping centres and transport links are adding appeal to the developing area, which are causing price rises in the area.
Investing in the Golden Horn’s future
Around 60% of the city’s housing stock is thought to be substandard - leaving it at risk to earthquakes. The new construction aims to improve housing quality for residents, as well as make suburbs safer and better connected to the rest of the city. Over the next 20 years, 6.5 million risky dwellings are set to be demolished.
Property Turkey director Cameron Deggin says the drive to improve Istanbul’s less developed areas is propelling a new wave of property investment.
“Area by area, Istanbul is being transformed, and property prices are rising. The Golden Horn is one of those areas that’s particularly exciting, since many of the developments will have sea views, which in the city is a very desirable asset.”
Prices in the Golden Horn area have risen by 45% in the past five years, slightly lagging behind the overall price growth in the city, Deggin says. However, he points out that accelerated property price growth following increased infrastructure development and construction means the Golden Horn will soon catch up to its more expensive neighbours.
“While the new developments on the Golden Horn are still affordable, but we’re confident prices will rise extremely rapidly as infrastructure continues to develop.”
“Prices to double within five years”
Government spending in the area has attracted interest from investors, explains Deggin. “Where public investment is made, private investment follows.”
The Golden Horn’s central location means large developers are buying up land and building huge complexes, of which there are few in this region, which means middle class Turks are buying up units at the early stages, while they’re affordable.
The new metro line, set to open in 2018, will connect the area with the business district, Deggin says, making the region particularly appealing to Turks.
“Turks are very reactive, they buy once they can see something. When a project finishes or a metro opens, real estate takes a jump. Luxury complexes that are walking distance to the metro stations will jump, as we saw with the Marmaray and the M4 line. This metro line is ten times more important than these others, it will draw in the people on the higher wages who don't want Beylikduzu or Esenyurt: they want to be 20 minutes from work.
"This is the district to be in for those people.”
Foreign buyers have been a little slower to move into the area, says Deggin, adding that these buyers tend to be attracted to areas that are already developed, seeing them as a safer bet.
However, he points out that for investors with vision, the Golden Horn is a veritable goldmine.
“It’s not difficult to see where prices are going here. It’s a central area, where a huge investment is being made by both the private and public sectors. From looking at similar areas where urban regeneration has already taken place, it’s fair to say that the current price of around $2500 per square metre will double within four to five years.”
Deggin cites four projects in the area that are close to the new metro line and therefore tipped to rapidly appreciate in value.
"This is a really quality complex in a great location. It attracts young professionals, either couples, singles or those with young families, looking for something affordable with great links to the centre. It'd be an ideal buy-to-let investment."
"This complex has already been completed and there are a few units left. The price is very low, but will climb once the metro opens. Again, an ideal buy-to-let - you'd be sure to have quality, long-term tenants."
"These apartments are just lovely. They have views of the sea and the complex has fantastic amenities. It's a central location and there is just so much to do in the area. We have just two resale apartments left here."
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