Balat
Culture & History

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Our most recommended Balat Culture & History

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

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

Explore Istanbul according to your own interests on a tailor-made sightseeing tour. A licensed guide will meet you in your hotel or port and work with you to create an itinerary that suits you best, leaving you satisfied that you have seen all of Istanbul. Marvel at monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, such as Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern on the first day. On day two, take the public ferry to Bosphorus to see both Istanbul’s European and Asian sides. From here, visit Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street and the spice market. Day three 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 Chora Church to see the mosaics and frescoes.

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Istanbul: Two Sides of The City Half-Day Bike Tour

2. Istanbul: Two Sides of The City Half-Day Bike Tour

Meet your tour guide in the historical neighborhood of Balat, in the European side of the city. Choose your bike for the day then board the public boat to Uskudar. From the boat, admire views of the city skyline and take photos of Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Maiden Tower, Süleymaniye Mosque, Bosphorus Bridge, and more. Arrive in Uskudar, which is on the Asian side of the city, and admire the cultural influences that surround you. Hop on your bike and pedal to Fenerbahce Park, stopping along the way to take in the sights and listen to your guide share information about the area’s history and culture. Once you’ve worked up a sweat from the bike ride, enjoy a refreshing cup of Turkish tea or coffee at a local cafe and admire the view of Princes’ Islands while you relax. Jump back on your bike and pedal to Kadıköy Pier for a boat ride to Karakoy. Next, cross over the Golden Horn Bay via the Metro Bridge then head back towards the tour’s meeting point in Balat. Tours usually finish around 1PM, depending on the group’s cycling tempo. Afterwards, spend the day exploring the vibrant streets of Balat at your own leisure, and enjoy some fresh, local cuisine from one of the many street-side food vendors.

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Bosphorus Boat Cruise & Two Continents Tour with Lunch

3. 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.

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

4. 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

5. 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: Old City Half-Day Bike Tour

6. Istanbul: Old City Half-Day Bike Tour

Explore Istanbul by bike and see some of the most beautiful sights of the city while burning off some calories. You will ride your bike through palaces, mosques, churches, parks, and the most characteristic districts of historic Istanbul, and including Eminönü. Depart from Balat, ride to Eminönü and admire the Galata Bridge, New Mosque, and Spice Bazaar. Look across the Golden Horn to the district of Beyoglu. Ride along the waterfront to Gülhane Park, an oasis of peace extending over the slope of Topkapı Palace. Leaving the park, catch a glimpse of the former gate of the Grand Vizier's residence. Take a short ride to Sultanahmet Park and see the city’s iconic St. Sophia and Blue Mosque. Run the full lap of the Hippodrome, just like the Roman horse-chariots used to, and admire the obelisks that dominate the street. Pass through its imposing gates of Topkapı Palace, the magnificent residence of the sultans, and proceed downhill to the Marmara waterfront. Here you will see some still-standing stretches of the Theodosian walls, which once protected the city. Some more thrusting on the pedals takes you to the Süleyman complex, considered the masterpiece of the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. Next stop is the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest closed markets in the world. Here you can lose yourself in the maze of galleries and bargain for handmade carpets and antiques. Continue downhill to Eminönü, and proceed back to Balat.

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Istanbul: Jewish District 3-Hour Walking Tour

7. 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.

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Istanbul: 6-Hour Byzantine Tour Along the Golden Horn

8. 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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Walk Fener and Balat – Istanbul's Greek Orthodox Region

9. Walk Fener and Balat – Istanbul's Greek Orthodox Region

If you are interested in visiting a functioning Byzantine church or seeing the only church in the world constructed entirely of iron and steel, then do not miss this full-day walking tour through Fener and Balat in Istanbul. The name Fener is derived from a Greek word 'Fanari,' meaning 'lantern' or 'lighthouse' in Turkish, and this district was made up of predominantly Romaic (Greek Orthodox) families up until the beginning of the 20th century. Today, this UNESCO-project filled site is known as the part of Istanbul where the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is situated. On this tour you'll hear the story of Phanariotes who served as dragomans to the Ottoman government and to foreign embassies. Following the included lunch, you will visit Balat, which is located on the southern shores of the Golden Horn. It is one of the Jewish districts where the people re-settled during the time of the Ottoman Empire. We will take you through Balat, where you will find yourself walking down intriguing streets, full of color and life. Synagogues, Armenian churches, Romaic churches, Byzantine remnants, and Ayazmas are all part of the adventure.

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Istanbul: Tour of Garipce Village, Rumeli Fortress and Balat

10. Istanbul: Tour of Garipce Village, Rumeli Fortress and Balat

Enjoy a really local tour of Istanbul with a guide who has an in-depth knowledge of the city. The full-day tour begins at around 08.30 with a pick up at your hotel, followed by breakfast in a small village located on the shores of the Black Sea. Visit a 17th-century castle and enjoy the amazing views. Stop to admire the Rumeli Fortress that looks out over the Bosporus – one of the unique monuments of Istanbul. Continue on with a drive to the Asian side of the city, where you’ll visit the Kucuksu Palace, used as a hunting lodge and summer mansion during the 18th century. Your guide will also take you to see the Balat/Fener area, which was the center of Greek Orthodox life in the time of the Ottoman Empire.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Balat

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What people are saying about Balat

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 12 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

Wowwwwwww i am blown away with this experience. Murat has been the best tour guide ive had in turkey and probably the best around the world. His knowledge is amazing, speaks Spanish perfect. His attention to details is amazing. He is so professional and well spoken. He treated us like family and never rush or nothing. He was very punctual in everything. I will miss turkey and my friend murat which we had for 3 days. This 3 days of turkey in spanish was a life long memory i will always cherish. Murat and turkey the best. Highly recommended. Do yourself a favor get this tour and ask for murat.

Outstanding 3 days with Semih as my guide to Istanbul, saw all the major sites, but also lots of places that I probably wouldn't have got to without a guide. Semih's had lots of information on each site, and I came away with a much better understanding of the history of the city. This was the best way to get to learn about the city

It was very good experience exploring Istanbul on bike I get even more than expected Mr can (the guide ) Is very professional so informative and nice person I really enjoyed the tour Highly recommended

An unforgettable, impressive experience. Tour guide Ayla is just SENSATIONAL .... I can only recommend it !!