Balat: One of the Oldest Districts of İstanbul

The known neighborhood Balat is known for its historical heritage and valuable places in the Fatih district of Istanbul. The neighborhood is located on the European side of the city. Balat is also known as a Jewish neighborhood in Istanbul due to the high population of Jewish people in the 15th century. While there are 18 synagogues in the neighborhood at that time, 2 of them are still available to use today. In addition to that, the colorful houses create an incredible atmosphere in Balat. If you would like to know more about the neighborhood, I prepared a detailed guide for you that you will be able to learn transportation options, places that you can visit, accommodation options, restaurants, and places that you will be able to try different tastes in the neighborhood. You can also reach more information and have more ideas about the district and the neighborhood in the article as well.

Balat istanbul

Getting to Balat

While the transportation options are available to get to Balat from various districts and neighborhoods, I listed 6 common areas that you will be able to get to the neighborhood. You will be able to know more about the transportation options below but the most common and the easiest way to reach the T5 tramway from the various neighborhoods and districts because it has the station directly in the Balat neighborhood in the district. You can see different ways to get to Balat below.

From New Istanbul Airport

The Istanbul New Airport does not provide a direct shuttle service to the neighborhood. You can prefer private shuttle services, private cars, or taxis to get to Balat and the road can take 30-35 minutes from the airport to the neighborhood. If you prefer private shuttle services, the prices can be changeable according to the service that you prefer. You can plan that before you fly to Istanbul.

Note that if you would like to get the Balat by public transportation, the best option is getting to Taksim first. You can see details on how you can get to Balat from Taksim below.

From Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport

The distance between the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport and the Balat neighborhood is 50.1 kilometers. The transportation options are diverse from the airport to Balat. While you will be able to prefer the bus, you can also prefer private shuttle services, taxis, and cars to get to Balat. The time of the trip can be changeable according to the transportation that you will prefer. Unfortunately, Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport does not provide a shuttle service directly to the neighborhood.

Note that if you would like to get the Balat by public transportation, the best option is getting to Taksim first. You can see details on how you can get to Balat from Taksim below.

From Kadikoy

Kadikoy is located on the Asian side of the city and across from the Fatih district. The easiest way of getting to Balat is going to Eminönü from Kadıköy Pier by ferry first. I will explain how you can get to Balat from Eminönü below.

From Besiktas

The distance between Balat and Besiktas is 13 kilometers, but unfortunately, there is no direct transportation from Besiktas to Balat. You can prefer to get to the Fatih district from Besiktas by bus, tram, and ferry services. When you reach the Tram T1 and metro from Besiktas, you will be able to get to Eminönü easily. In addition to that, Tram T5 has also a direct station to Balat.

From Eminönü and Sultanahmet

Eminonu and Sultanahmet are extremely close to the Balat neighborhood. While you will be able to walk, you can also prefer Tram T5 and taxis. The road will take 6 mins by Tram and 3 mins by taxi. If you would like to walk to the neighborhood, it will take about 35-40 minutes to get to Balat.

See More: Sultanahmet Square and Historic Peninsula: Old Town of İstanbul

From Taksim Square

Taksim is 5.8 kilometers far from the Balat neighborhood and it is also located on the European side of the city but there is no direct service or connection to Balat from Taksim Square. You can prefer Metro M7 and Tram T5 to get to Balat. You can also prefer taxis as well.

See More: Taksim Square and İstiklal Avenue

History of Balat – Where to Go in Balat?

Balat is known as the Jewish neighborhood in Istanbul and the term of the Sultan Beyazid II in the 15th century, citizenship was offered to many Jewish people who escaped from Spain. Balat offers a rich history to those who visit it by the various synagogues in the neighborhood. Balat also hosted many different cultures and religions during its history. In 1985, UNESCO added İstanbul’s Historic Places, including Balat, to the World Heritage List. You will be able to find the various historical and valuable in the neighborhood. You can see some of the important places below.

Fener and Around

You will be able to see Fener and Balat on the list of UNESCO World Heritage. You will be able to find rare places in Fener. While you can visit the churches and religious places, you can also visit colleges and antique auction places at the same time. You can see the detailed information of the famous places that I listed for you below.

Fener and Around

The Fener Greek Patriarchate & the St. George Church

The Fener Greek Patriarchate and the St. George Church are located on the coast of the Golden Horn in Fener. The patriarchate is the main church of the Greek Orthodox Christianity in the world. The St. George Church is also known as St. George’s Patriarchal Cathedral of Constantinople. You will be able to see the Neoclassical Architecture on the church and it designated in the 1600s.

The Fener Greek Patriarchate & the St. George Church

Fener Greek High School for Boys (Red Castle – Red School)

Fener Greek High School for Boys is also known as Phanar Greek Orthodox College and the Great School of the Nation. It is a private school which was established in 1454, 567 years ago in Fener. In the Ottoman Empire period, the private high school was one of the most common schools for Greek and Orthodox families. The college was designed by the Greek architect Konstantinos Dimadis.

Fener Greek High School for Boys (Red Castle – Red School)

Fener Antik Mezat (Antiques Auction place)

One of the most famous antique shops in the city is located in Fener. The Fener Antik Mezat is located in Vodina Street. You will be able to find valuable and rare antiques and you can also prefer to buy them at the same time. You can visit the Fener Antik Mezat at the hours between 3 pm to 8 pm. If you are interested in antiques, you can prefer to visit them in Fener.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Iron Church, Aya Istefanos)

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is also known as St. Stephen Bulgarian Iron Church and Aya Istefanos at the same time. The church is located in Fener and if you would like to experience the neo-byzantine and neo-baroque architecture style, you will be able to see it on the St. Stephen Bulgarian Iron Church. 

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Iron Church, Aya Istefanos)

Church of Our Lady of the Mongols (Bloody Church)

Church of Our Lady of the Mongols is also known as Church of St. Mary of the Mongols or Bloody Church and it is a Greek Orthodox church in Fener, Istanbul. The church is founded at the beginning of the 7th century and you will be able to see the Byzantine architecture style on the church at the same time. The Church of St. Mary of the Mongols was completed in 1281 in Fener.

Balat and Around

Besides the known and famous places, you will be able to visit many different religious places in the Balat neighborhood. While it hosts various mosques, you can also visit known and important churches and synagogues in the neighborhood at the same time. I listed the places which take the attraction of the tourists below. You can look at the details and have more information about the places as well.

Cifit Bazaar

The authentic Cifit Bazaar is located in the Balat neighborhood of the Fatih district. The name of Cifit has a history because it comes from the Jewish people in the Ottoman Empire. You will be able to visit many different vintage shops and antique shops in the Cifit Bazaar at the same time. There are also mirror-selling shops that you can prefer to visit as well.

Agora Tavern

The Agora Tavern is a historic tavern that dates back to 1890. It opens at 12 in the afternoon and closed at midnight. If you would like to experience tavern culture in the neighborhood, Agora Tavern is a famous one. It also provides a rich menu to its visitors. While you will be able to find seafood, variety of fish, you can also prefer to taste different kebabs in the Agora Tavern at the same time. While the tavern is open every day, there is also outdoor seating as well.

Agora Tavern

Yanbol Synagogue

Yanbol Synagogue is also known as Bulgarian Synagogue in history and it is built by Sephardi Jews. The Yanbol Synagogue was built in the 18th century but due to renovation in the 19th century, the building is not the original synagogue. When the population of Jewish people decreased in the year, the synagogue was not used as in the past and it is only opened for Shabbat services.

Çorbacı Çeşmesi Ramp -The Merdivenli (Stairs) Ramp and Historical Balat Houses

The Historical Balat Houses and the Corbaci Cesmesi Ramp are the most significant symbols of the Balat neighborhood. It is protected by UNESCO as the Cultural Heritage. Those who are interested in photography usually visit the historical Balat houses and the Corbaci Cesmesi Ramp. While it takes the attraction of thousands of tourists every year, local people also prefer to visit the valuable place in the Balat neighborhood at the same time. If you would like to visit the protected historical places in the neighborhood, you can prefer the Corbasi Cesmesi Ramp and the Historical Balat Houses.

Çorbacı Çeşmesi Ramp -The Merdivenli (Stairs) Ramp and Historical Balat Houses

Ferruh Kethuda Mosque

Ferruh Kethuda Mosque was built in 1562 by Ferruh Aga. The design belongs to the famous imperial architecture of the Ottoman Empire Mimar Sinan. The Ferruh Kethuda Mosque is also known as Balat Mosque or Ferruh Kahya Tekkesi at the same time. You will be able to see the ottoman architecture style on the mosque and the mosque was renovated in 1990.

Ahrida Synagogue

Ahrida Synagogue was built in the 1430s by the Macedonian Jews Romaniotes. The synagogue is still active in the Balat neighborhood and you will be able to visit it. The known synagogue was renovated in 1992 by Yuzuncu Yil Vakfi. It is one of the most important and oldest synagogues in the district.

Surp Hresdagabet Armenian Church

Surp Hresdagabet Armenian Church

The historical Surp Hresdagabet Armenian Church was built in the 16th century and rebuilt in the 18th century. The Armenian church is also known as the Miracle Church at the same time. If you would like to visit the different styles of churches in the city, you can prefer to visit the Surp Hresdagabet Armenian Church in the Balat neighborhood.

Hz. Cabir Mosque

The Hz. Cabir Mosque is also known as Hazrat Jabir Mosque which is located in the Cember Street of the Balat neighborhood in Fatih. The mosque was built as a church in the 9th century and the name of the historical church was Aya Thekla. In 1490, the Aya Thekla church was converted into the Hz. Cabir Mosque by Atik Mustafa Pasha. You will be able to visit the historical building in the Balat neighborhood.

Experience in Balat – Things to Eat & Moments to Live

While the Balat neighborhood offers rich historical places and streets to those who would like to visit it, there are also places that you will be able to experience the tastes of Balat. There are some famous and well-known restaurants that you will be able to visit in the neighborhood. In addition to that, there are some reasons why you should visit the Balat neighborhood in the city at the same time. You will be able to find detailed information below about places where you can prefer to eat and reasons why you need to visit the Balat neighborhood in the Fatih district of Istanbul at the same time.

What to Eat in Balat?

The known and significant places provide different tastes and experiences to those who would like to taste the traditional Turkish cuisine and the various tastes of the neighborhood at the same time. I prepared a guide which can help you with the places that you may like to explore in Balat. You can see some of the famous places below and have more ideas about what to eat in Balat as well.

  • Yıldırım and Vodina Street

There are numerous cafés in the Yildirim and Vodina Street in the Balat neighborhood. While it is not possible to list all of them, you can see some cafés on the street below.

Vodina Street

Fida Café, Maison Start, Agustos Café Antika, Café in Balat, Yadigar Café & Vintage, Vanilla Café Balat, Dimitrie Cantemir Museum Café, Coffee Deparment, Cumbali Café, Framing Café Baladi, Balat Residence Café, Café Balistan, the Little House Café, Balat Café’s, the Vintage Café & Restaurant, Makarri Café Kitchen and Velvet Café.

  • Perispri

There are inside and outside seating options in Perispri in the Balat neighborhood. While there is a rich menu that you will have various choices of, you can prefer to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner in Perispiri. It is recommended to make a reservation before you go to the restaurant café. You can see the phone number below;

Phone Number: 0534 511 64 04 / 0 212 521 54 43

  • Forno

If you would like to have breakfast at a famous place in the neighborhood, you can directly prefer Forno because it is especially famous for breakfast. While you will be able to spend a great time, you can also experience the Turkish breakfast in the Balat neighborhood at the same time.

  • Sahil

The Balat Sahil Restaurant offers you to experience the “Meyhane” culture in the neighborhood. If you would like to spend a great night in Balat, you can prefer to have dinner in the Balat Sahil Restaurant. While it is vegetarian-friendly, you will be able to have various seafood options in the restaurant as well.

  • Balat Kapı

If you would like to prefer more café style food, you can directly prefer Balat Kapi. While it is a famous place in Balat, it also offers café style food for its guests at the same time.

  • Köfteci Arnavut

Meatballs are one of the traditional Turkish foods in Turkey and if you would like to try them, you can prefer Kofteci Arnavut in the neighborhood because it is famous for meatballs. In addition to that, Kofteci Arnavut is also known for its desserts at the same time.

  • Makarri Café Kitchen

If you would like to prefer vegan-friendly places in the Balat neighborhood, you can prefer Makarri Café Kitchen which is located in the Vodina Street of Balat. It also offers a rich menu that includes traditional Turkish food at the same time.

  • Mitis Manti and Café

You will be able to experience the traditional Turkish cuisine in the Mitis Manti and Café in the Balat neighborhood. If you would like to try the famous food “Manti” in the neighborhood, you can prefer to choose Mitis Manti and Café

  • Balat Picklemen

Balat Picklemen is also a famous place in the neighborhood that you can prefer. Balat Pickleman is also famous for meatballs and desserts as well.

  • Agora Tavern

As I mentioned above, the Agora Tavern was built in 1890 and it provides a rich menu to its guests. While you will be able to prefer seafood in the tavern atmosphere of the Turkish culture, you can also prefer a variety of kebab at the same time. It is recommended to have dinner at the Agora Tavern at the same time. If you would like to have various options of Turkish cuisine, you can prefer to have dinner in the Agora Tavern as well.

Experiences in Balat – Why Visit Balat?

Balat is one of the most valuable neighborhoods in the city and it offers a rich history to those who visit it. You will be able to find the authentic atmosphere in Balat while you will be impressed by the streets of Fener. Besides the places, I listed above, you can also discover many different places in the neighborhood. Those who would like to meet with the historical atmosphere will love to spend time in the Balat neighborhood. You will be able to find various souvenirs in the vintage shops like Horhor Antique Mall of the neighborhood at the same time.

Where to Stay in Balat?

The accommodation options are changeable according to the demand for those who would like to stay in the neighborhood. While you will be able to find a budget hotel in Balat, you can also find the luxury and mid-range hotel in the neighborhood at the same time. It is recommended that checking the reviews and comments of the hotel that you are planning to stay in before your holiday in Balat as well. You can decide on the hotel which will be more comfortable for you. I listed some of the hotels according to their prices below, you can look at them to have an idea about the hotel and have more information at the same time.

  • For those looking for mid-range hotels around Balat; Hayriye Hanim Konagi, Elele Boutique Aparts, Pera Tulip Hotel, the Galataport Hotel, and Farina Hotel by Cigno.
  • For those looking for luxury accommodation options around Balat; Radisson Blue Hotel Istanbul Pera, Dosso Dossi Hotel, Daru Sultan Hotels, and All Seasons Suites.
  • For those looking for budget accommodation options around Balat; Abisso Hotel, New Fatih Hotel, and Hhk Hotel Downtown.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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