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Balat Culture & history

Our most recommended Balat Culture & history

Istanbul: Jewish District 3-Hour Walking Tour

1. Istanbul: Jewish District 3-Hour Walking Tour

Istanbul has had a vibrant Jewish community for more than 1,000 years. After the Turkish conquest of Istanbul, Sultan Mehmet II encouraged immigration to repopulate the city. Over half a million Jews persecuted in Spain and Portugal were encouraged to establish themselves within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. In Istanbul, the new immigrants settled mostly near Galata – a quarter on the northern bank of the Golden Horn – where a Jewish community had existed since the early days of the Ottoman Era in Istanbul. On this tour, you'll walk around Galata, exploring its intriguing streets full of colorful life. The tour includes synagogues, the Jewish Museum, Jewish Apartments, the amazing story of Abraham Kamondo, and other Jewish heritage sites. Monday – Friday:  Jewish Museum, Ashkenazi Synagogue, Schneidertemple Synagogue, and outer visits to Georgian Synagogue, Neve Shalom Synagogue, Italian Synagogue, Jewish Apartments, Kamondo Buildings.

Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

2. Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

Explore Istanbul according to your own interests on a tailor-made sightseeing tour. Meet your guide at your hotel or port and work together to create an itinerary that suits you best, leaving you satisfied that you have seen all of Istanbul. On 1st day, marvel at monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, such as Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and Byzantine Cistern. On 2nd day, take the public ferry to Bosphorus to see both Istanbul’s European and Asian sides. From here, visit Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Galata area and the Spice Market. On 3rd day, guide takes you on a walk through the streets of Fener-Balat neighboorhood. Enjoy a cable car ride and soak up views of Pierre Loti Hill, then visit Iron Church, and see the Suleymaniye Mosque. You can create your own itinerary with your tour guide on tour day, to have an idea, here you can see our suggested tour itineraries are below; Day 1 - Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome Square, Byzantine Cistern, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Irene Church, Sogukcesme Street, Grand Bazaar Day 2 - Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Cicek Passage, Galata Tower (from outside) Day 3 - Suleymaniye Mosque, Fener and Balat Districts, St. Stephen Church (Iron Church), Pierre Lotti Panoramic Hill, Rahmi Koc Museum (or alternative options)

Golden Horn via Public Ferry Tour – Half Day

3. Golden Horn via Public Ferry Tour – Half Day

Back during the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, the Golden Horn was primarily used as a trading port and a residential area populated by Spanish, Armenians, and Greeks. Today, the Golden Horn (aptly named due to its horn shape) is known as one of the world’s best natural harbors, with stunning views and rich, historical sites. This half-day tour will start in the afternoon in front of Mado Karakoy. From there, you’ll take the ferry to Fener and visit St. George’s Cathedral, a neo-classical church that dates back to the 16th century. Admire the cathedral’s lavish interiors before heading to Balak Antik Cafe. Whip out your phone and camera as you take in the highly Instagrammable and colorful cafe decorations. Feel free to order a coffee or snack before strolling along to see the colorful Balat houses. These 200+ year-old residential houses are famous for their bright hues in a variety of rainbow colors. Up next, visit Ahrida Synagogue, one of the oldest synagogues in Istanbul. Marvel at the fascinating Ottoman Baroque architecture and learn how this synagogue remains a glorious example of the rich history of Turkish Jews in the area. From there, board a ferry and head to Eyup where you’ll take a cable car ride to Pierre Loti Hill. Named after a famous French writer, the Pierre Loti Cafe is known for its breathtaking views of the cape. Take in the stunning views of the golden horn and order a drink or two before heading back and taking the ferry to Karakoy.

Istanbul: Off-the-Beaten-Track Istanbul Fener and Balat

4. Istanbul: Off-the-Beaten-Track Istanbul Fener and Balat

This particular tour includes some of the unique places in the city but also which are difficult to visit on your own. The tour will take you to the roots of historic Istanbul with visits to the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian monuments. You will meet with your guide at 09.00 am at your hotel reception. The first stop is Suleymaniye Mosque was built on the order of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and constructed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan. Construction began in 1550, and the mosque was finished in 1557. The mosque is partly modeled on the style of a Byzantine basilica, particularly the Hagia Sophia, which was perhaps a conscious move by the sultan to create a continuity and a symbolic connection with the city's past. After the mosque, we will have a tea-coffee break at Kadinlar Pazari under the shadow of the aqueduct of Valens. An authentic square filled with "buryan kebab" restaurants. Walking along the aqueduct will end at one of the oldest and most influential churches, now a mosque in the city, Zeyrek Mosque or Monastery of the Pantocrator, A unique combination of two former Eastern Orthodox churches and a chapel. The Zeyrek Mosque is the second largest religious edifice after the Hagia Sophia, built by the Byzantines remaining in Istanbul. The next stop will be the Gul Mosque; Gul Mosque started life as the 11th-century Church of St Theodosia and was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. We will then continue to the beautiful districts of Fener and Balat to discover the Aya Nikola Greek Orthodox Church before visiting the Fener Orthodox Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is one of the fifteen autocephalous churches that compose the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since 1586 the Ecumenical Patriarchate has had its headquarters in the relatively modest Church of St George in the Fener district of Istanbul. Afterward, enjoy a break from sightseeing to have a drink. We will then wander around the labyrinth cobblestone streets of Balat to see Phanar Greek Orthodox College, this Fener landmark, known locally as Kirmizi Mektep for its castellated red-brick facade, still functions as a Greek school. Then we will visit Saint Mary of the Mongols, an Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul. It is the only Byzantine church of Constantinople that has never been converted to a mosque, always remaining open to the Greek Orthodox Church. Please note that some visits will be only panoramic from outside because of the restoration works.

Bosphorus Boat Cruise & Two Continents Tour with Lunch

5. Bosphorus Boat Cruise & Two Continents Tour with Lunch

From the Golden Horn to the arm of the Boshorous you will experience the beautiful sights of the historical peninsula which separates the old and new parts of Istanbul. You will be a part of history as you take an in-depth look at the residential areas for Byzantine Jews, Italian traders and other non-Muslim minorities. Get a true sense of the history behind the Balat and the Metal Church. Stop at the sights of St. Stephen the Bulgarian, and get a glimpse of what life was really like at the Jewish Hospital. You can take a break from the historic sights by taking a stroll along the Byzantine City Walls. Another charming feature of the tour is the array of colorful shops that you will see at the Spice Bazaar. We'll make a stop at the stalls selling fruits, vegetables and flowers. After enjoying the variety of shops, the tour takes you to the Bosphorus Cruise and through the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asia. Marble palaces, ancient wooden villas and the sights of the luxurious residential apartments provide the perfect photo opportunity. From here it is on to Rumell Fortress by boat, where the historical armament can be viewed clearly from the boat. The armament is a unique example of military architecture, and was built by the conqueror to control and protect the Bosphorus. If time permits, the tour will also take you on to visit a leather showroom. Lunch. Tell your friends you’ve been to Asia and Europe in one day by joining us on a guided tour of Istanbul’s most historic sites. Led by an expert guide, you’ll visit the impressive Dolmabahçe Palace, the official home of Ottoman Sultans. Built by two famous Ottoman architects, the palace houses a museum-worthy collection of European furniture, art and antiquities. Then it’s off to the Bosphorus Bridge, which straddles the narrow waterway that separates Europe and Asia. Once you’ve crossed the bridge it’s time to head to Camlica HIll, which offers dramatic, panoramic views of the city from almost 300 meters above sea level. Please note, on Mondays and Thursdays the palace is closed, so the tour will make three different stops: Eyüp Sultan Mosque and Tomb, Pierre Loti Coffee House and Miniatürk park.

Other Sightseeing Options in Balat

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What people are saying about Balat

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 12 reviews

a very pleasant one-day experience through Topkapi Palace, St. Sophia Mosque, (Blue Mosque under repair, impossible to visit), Basilica Cisterns, Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaar with a private guide, who was very knowledgeable subject, of great availability and flexibility. Absolutely correct value for money. To recommend

Our Tour Guide Fatima was fantastic. We were met on time at our hotel, and the tour was tailored around my and my families needs / what we wanted to see and do. Fatima was amazing. Highly recommended.

Although we got off to a late start, the tour was terrific. Guide informative, personable and very accommodating…to the point of continuing the visit the following murning. Thank you for amazing tour.

Sinan treated us wonderfully, very friendly and a very good guide, it was a pleasure to get to know the city with his help, thank you very much.

Muy amable y con conocimiento. Excelente guía Edur una chica muy recomendable