Guide of Istanbul Balat
Guide of Istanbul Balat.With its winding streets, colorful houses and retro trams, the charming neighborhood of Balat offers a glimpse into old Istanbul. Nestled on the shores of the Golden Horn, this atmospheric area was once home to thriving Jewish, Greek and Armenian communities during the Ottoman era. Let’s uncover the top attractions that make a visit to arty Balat such a delight.
Explore Historic Churches
Balat is home to many historic churches that reflect its cosmopolitan past. Stop by the Greek Orthodox Ayios Georgios Church noted for its crimson facade and domed tower. Don’t miss the elegant Bulgarian Iron Church with ornate neo-Gothic style and the 11th century Armenian Church of the Holy Mother of God.
Wander Around Fener
Right next to Balat lies the quaint neighborhood of Fener, also dotted with Greek Orthodox churches. Visit the grand Patriarchate of Constantinople, center of the Greek Orthodox world. Nearby, the Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars dazzles with glittering mosaics.
Marvel at the City Walls
Parts of the monumental 5th century Theodosian Land Walls snake through Balat. Walk along these ancient fortifications and admire how they protected Constantinople through the ages. The best preserved sections are near the Edirnekapı and Ayvansaray gates.
Shop at the Balat Market
Experience local trade at the lively Balat Market near the Fener Greek Patriarchate. Pick up fresh produce, spices and Turkish delicacies as you mingle with residents buying groceries. Don’t forget to sample street food favorites like simit (sesame bread) and roasted chestnuts.
Try Turkish Coffee
Numerous cafes and tea gardens have cropped up amidst Balat’s historic streets. Stop to relax over Turkish coffee, nargile waterpipes and delicious baklava sweets. For stunning views with your tea, head to Pierre Loti Cafe perched high over the Golden Horn.
Discover Ottoman Mansions and Traditional Istanbul Houses
Though dilapidated, Balat’s backstreets feature many imposing wooden Ottoman mansions and traditional Istanbul houses. Look for ornate door knockers, painted shutters and curved bay windows. One magnificently restored mansion houses the Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews.Also don’t forget to visit Balat”s most colorful street Kiremit Sokak
Explore Ahrida Synagogue
Dating back to the 15th century, the Ahrida Synagogue is among the oldest in Istanbul. Appreciate the marble bimah (platform), walnut seating and ornate chandeliers inside this historic place of worship for the city’s small Jewish community.
Ride the Tram
Istanbul’s retro tram connects Balat to other sights along the Golden Horn like the Spice Bazaar. Hop on for a scenic ride clattering over the cobblestoned streets. Stand at the front to feel transported back in time while admiring the area’s faded beauty.
Cross the Iconic Galata Bridge
The landmark Galata Bridge connects Balat across the Golden Horn to districts like Karaköy and Eminönü. Walk across for spectacular views of Ottoman mosques, the Galata Tower and bustling ferry traffic passing below your feet.
Admire Street Art
Like other old quarters, Balat sees a new wave of street art taking over its crumbling buildings. Intricate murals, graffiti pieces and creative installations lend bold pops of color to the area’s weathered textures and muted hues.
Taste Regional Cuisine
Balat eateries offer a chance to try regional specialties from Turkey’s southeast like lahmacun (thin-crust pizza), burma kadayıf (shredded dough) and baklava flavored with pistachios. Be sure to try the aromatic southeastern coffee as well.
Traditional Istanbul Houses in Balat
In addition to its historic charm, Balat is also prized for its collection of picturesque Ottoman-era wooden homes. These timber framed beauties feature ornamented overhangs, bay windows and carved doorways.
While offering loads of character, their petite size and layouts make them better suited as holiday rentals rather than full-time homes. Investors are increasingly snapping them up for restoration into charming boutique stays.
Real Estate Outlook in Balat
Long overlooked, Balat is now gaining attention as Istanbul’s next up-and-coming neighborhood. The area is undergoing steady revitalization but retains its nostalgic appeal.
Real estate prices still remain relatively affordable compared to nearby Karaköy and other regenerated districts. However, increased interest is expected to drive values up steadily in the coming years.
For pioneers seeking Istanbul property with untapped potential, Balat provides an opportunity to buy before wider redevelopment and gentrification kicks in. The area displays promising fundamentals.
With its charming nostalgia, vibrant culture and Instagrammable scenery, Balat makes for an unforgettable Istanbul experience away from the usual tourist haunts. Lose yourself in its winding alleys for a wonderful glimpse into the city’s diverse past and present.