Balat is one of the oldest places in Istanbul and the area will make you feel like you travel in time. Start your tour with walking down from the hill and you’ll fall in love with the old, colorful Greek houses. In the old times, a large part of population was Greek and Jewish in Fener-Balat. They had left their houses before Ottoman Empire conquest Istanbul. But Fatih Sultan Mehmet let them live like the way they were living before. After the Empire’s firman, they came back to their houses.
The neighbourhood of Balat is also in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Before getting into the list Balat was suffering from poverty. Afterwards wealthy people started to built apartments, boutique hotels and restaurants. We share with you the places that you must see in this old Greek and Jewish district.
- Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
The building of Orthodox Patriarchate is also the head of Orthodox Church. It’s still in the same place since 1602. The old throne of Patriarchate from the 5th century and as the belief says the column that Jesus had scourged is still there. These two pieces and the three Saints’ coffins are really important historical and cultural heritage for Christianity.
- Saint Stephan Bulgarian Church
The technique that used for building this church is very interesting. In fact Saint Stephan Bulgarian Church was built in Vienna and transported from there to Istanbul with ships. It’s very important for the architecture history, and one of the only two other buildings in the world established with the same method.
- Ayia Maria Church
It’s the only Byzantium Church that had kept in the first form, and it’s still standing since the 7th century. The name is coming from the Byzantium King’s daughter Princess Maria Despina Palaiologina. After her Mongol husband died, she moved back to Balat, had the church and monastery done, and lived there for the rest of her life.
- Fener Greek Orthodox High School
In 1881, it was built with the imported pieces from France. The extraordinarily huge school was made with red bricks, so it was also named as ‘’Red Castle’’. Like we said before, in old times Balat was the place for wealthy people. You can consider this when you see the vanity of the school. If you had the chance to get in the school, you find a stunnig view.
- Balat Bazaar
This bazaar is full of buildings that were built in different periods of history and surrounded by a lot of litte shops. It was also called as ‘’Çıfıt Bazaar’’ and ‘’Old Bazaar’’. The tavern that many songs written for ‘’Agora’’ is also there for a really long time.