Two places of interest because of their long history as religious sites are near the northern end of the Bosphorus on the Asiatic side. Yuşa Tepesi, a grave and a mosque high on a hill north of Beykoz, is a place of pilgrimage for Muslims who count it holy and believe that the water from the well in front of the mosque has healing powers. The huge grave (about 18 m long) is reputed to belong to Yuşa, or Joseph, Dede; earlier it was called “the Bed of Hercules.” Justinian built the Church of St. Pantaleimon here on top of a pre-Christian Temple to Jupiter. The grave itself is thought to date back to the Neolithic Period.
A bit farther north is the fishing village of Anadolu Kavağı, a good place for a seafood meal. The Genoese Castle on the hill is the place in legend where Jason built a Temple to Zeus Ourious (Zeus of the Favorable Winds) for helping him find the Golden Fleece. The base of that temple is in the British Museum. The Temple to Zeus was one of twelwe here, each dedicated to a god of Olympus. Collectively they were known as The Heiron, or the Holy.
The temples attracted hordes of pilgrims who lavished gifts on them. Darius ( ? 521-486 BC) is reported to have been one of them; he sat for a while at the Heiron contemplating his accomplishments, perhaps before his defeat at the Battle of Marathon.
Cicero talks about the temple –could he have been a tourist? King Prusias I held this hill briefly in the 2nd century BC. Around AD 1350 the Genoese strengthened the fortress that was here.
Their arms of flowered crosses are emblazoned on the doorways. With its mate on the European side the two fortresses commanded the northern entrance to the strait. Tje view from the hiltop is as dramatic today as it was or Darius and Cicero.