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Our most recommended Balat Architecture

Istanbul Heritage: 5-Hour Tour on Foot, by Ferry & More

1. Istanbul Heritage: 5-Hour Tour on Foot, by Ferry & More

Meet your guide at the Fuego Café and Restaurant in Sultanhamet, in the heart of the main tourist area of Istanbul. From here you’ll take the local tram to Eminönü Harbor and begin a 5-hour excursion into Istanbul’s heritage. Travel by public bus to the colorful Fener/Balat district, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and at one time home to Istanbul’s Ottoman Orthodox and Jewish residents. See traces of Ottoman life, including wooden houses, mosques, churches, and synagogues, standing together and demonstrating the multicultural and religious ways of the Ottoman Empire. After walking along the cobblestoned streets of the Fener/Balat World Heritage area, you’ll continue along the historic Byzantine city walls that date to the 4th century A.D. and the time of Constantine the Great. Visit the historic Eyüp mosque complex, a sacred area where pilgrims come to visit the mosques and the tombs of Muslim saints. From here you’ll take a short cable car ride up to the famous Pierre Loti Café, a popular meeting point for locals. Enjoy stunning panoramic views of Istanbul while sipping a drink in one of the cafés where French Poet Pierre Loti was inspired to write Aziyade, part biography and part love story about his escapades in Istanbul in the late 1800s. Walk back down to Eyüp to catch the local ferry for a cruise on the blue waters of the Golden Horn. See Ottoman houses, shipyards, the old and new Galata bridges, Ataturk Bridge, ancient city walls, mosques, churches, and other historic and modern sites. You’ll disembark at Eminönü Harbor, where the tour ends.

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Istanbul: Guided Off-the-Beaten-Path Experience

2. Istanbul: Guided Off-the-Beaten-Path Experience

Your experience will begin with the ancient Hippodrome, where thousands of spectators were entertained and kept happy by the chariot races. Whilst there you will witness a cistern which was recently discovered in 2010, and you can navigate through the labyrinth of streets and passages that are home to more than 4,000 shops, which is known as the Grand Bazaar. You will soon take a break to experience traditional Turkish tea or coffee and a popular Turkish pastry called borek, all while enjoying the ancient practice of hookah at a favorite local hangout. Following that you'll visit Istanbul’s largest mosque, titled the Suleymaniye Mosque. It is an Ottoman Imperial mosque located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, and is breathtaking due to both its size and interior beauty. From the mosque you will visit a Spice Bazaar which is full of colors and the powerful aromas of exotic spices. Istanbul is a city which has a rich religious history, and is now composed of many different religions. Your next stop will be the Church of St. George, which since the 1600s has been the location of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and is recognized as the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Religion.

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Istanbul: 6-Hour Byzantine Tour Along the Golden Horn

3. Istanbul: 6-Hour Byzantine Tour Along the Golden Horn

Want to discover the Istanbul of Byzantine Constantinople? Have you finished the famous sites in Sultanahmet and ready to walk in areas where tourists do not go? Then this Byzantine Istanbul (Constantinople) tour along the Golden Horn will be the perfect choice for you. The vastness of the vision and boldness of the design of Byzantine era Constantinople is expressed through the Hagia Sophia located in Sultanahmet but medieval Constantinople around the Golden Horn offers more information. Poke around forgotten corners just over this hauntingly beautiful inlet – the Golden Horn and walk to see Constantinople before the Ottoman Conquest of 1453. Your Byzantine Istanbul Constantinople tour will start with a ferry ride from Eminonu or Karakoy zigzaging both sides of the Golden Horn to end in Ayvansaray. Ayvansaray is where Constantinople officially ended, so you’ll see and walk along the mighty Byzantine walls of Theodosius from the 5th century. Your first visit will be to an extraordinary Greek Orthodox Church – Mary Blachernae. The only church in the whole world where there’s a service on a Friday morning. Built on a sacred water source, the church is a pilgrimage site for the Greek people in Istanbul. Climb the 7th hill of Istanbul as you make your way to one of the oldest Byzantine palaces from the 13th century (Tekfur Sarayi). The highlight of the trip will be the famous Chora, the Byzantine marvel of mosaics and frescoes. Then, walk your way back through Balat which houses one of Istanbul’s surviving mediaeval synagogues and trendiest houses that are now enjoying their second or even third type of use. In Fener, you will see the Greek Orthodox patriarchate housing a column, which is believed to have been used for the binding and flogging of Jesus in Jerusalem.

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Istanbul: Off-the-Beaten-Track Museums Tour

4. Istanbul: Off-the-Beaten-Track Museums Tour

Your first stop will be the Suleymaniye Mosque, which was built on the order of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and constructed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan. The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1557. The mosque is modeled in part on the style of a Byzantine basilica, particularly the Hagia Sophia, which was perhaps a conscious move on the part of the sultan to create a continuity and a symbolic connection with the city's past. Driving along the city walls will end at one of the oldest and most important churches in the city, the Church of Chora, which has fascinating wall paintings telling the life of Christ in an historical order. Even though the building itself is small, the meaning was great for Byzantines as being found at the borders of the city and welcoming the visitors. Today the environment is restored and this is a good place to spend time with local artisans and wooden houses. After the church, you will have a tea and coffee break at one of the most splendid spots of Istanbul, with beautiful views over the Golden Horn and Pierre Loti Hill. Following this you will resuming driving along the shores of the Golden Horn through the towns Fener and Balat, which are the old Greek and Jewish living sites. Fener Orthodox Patriarchate is in this area as well.  Following lunch, your next destination will be the Dolmabahce Palace, the last residence of the Ottoman Sultans with 365 rooms and 22 saloons. Famous for the great collection of European antiquity, furniture, and a 4.5 ton chandelier. This will be your last stop, and after this visit you will be driven back to your hotel.

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What people are saying about Balat

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 2 reviews

I can only recommend you this tour, your guide is very nice and he knows the stuff he's talking about, he'll lead you around some famous sites but also covering secret sites invisible to the tourist eye. This tour is very long (compared to most others), it is very cheap for the amount that you see and you get a locally very experienced guide that gives you all kinds of advises for your istanbul experience (from food to sites). This guide has been the best tour that i have ever booked (thank you oz) and i can only highly (!!!) recommend you, reading this comment, to go check it out :) with my regards

the guide was very dedicated and knew a lot about the history. the only minus point is the booking. if you want to book the tour via the computer, you must enter his or her passport number for each person separately. Often you don't have one.

Great tour in which you immediately get an impression of the diversity of the city as a melting pot of cultures and religions. The cistern is breathtaking. The Jewish Orthodox Quarter is just beautiful and colorful. We loved it.

Very interesting excursion, we visited places that we would't discover by ourselves. Highly recommended to everybody, who want to see something more than Hagia Sophia na Istanbul old city.

very good day in the company of ozur. very good guide who knows the city very well.