During the early Ottoman period, the population of Balat ballooned with Jewish citizens who had fled Spain in 1492 and relocated, with the Sultan’s welcome, to Istanbul. At one time, there were 19 synagogues dotting the narrow, atmospheric streets of Balat. Today, the neighborhood's colorful houses and cobblestone streets draw photographers and are perfect for a stroll.
Private and small-group walking tours of Balat often stop at the Chora Museum, Fener district, Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate, Eyup neighborhood, Walls of Constantinople, and more.
Things to Know Before You Go
Wear comfortable shoes to explore the cobblestone streets of Balat.
Balat is a must-visit for history and architecture buffs.
The synagogues in Balat can only be visited with prior permission from Istanbul’s head rabbi.
How to Get There
Balat is located up the Golden Horn past the Fener district and is easily accessible by bus from Eminonu pier. It’s possible to walk to Balat from Eminonu, though not all the streets have sidewalks. It is easy to reach Balat by taxi. Book a tour that includes transportation for maximum convenience.
When to Get There
Balat gets busy in the afternoon, when people flock to the neighborhood's cafes and colorful streets. Visit early in the day to beat the crowds and have the area to yourself. Evening is also a nice time to visit, though some of the cultural sites might not be open.
Jewish Sites in Istanbul
Balat is home to two of Istanbul’s major synagogues, the Ahrida Synagogue and Yanbol Synagogue. There are also remains of a Jewish school and hospital nearby. Other major Jewish sites are in the Galata neighborhood, where you can find the Jewish Museum, and in the Kuzguncuk neighborhood.
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- Fener District
- Kariye Museum (Kariye Müzesi)
- Mihrimah Sultan Mosque (Mihrimah Sultan Camii)
- Aynalikavak Palace (Aynalikavak Kasri)
- Rahmi M. Koc Museum (Rahmi M. Koç Müzesi)
- Süleymaniye Mosque (Süleymaniye Camii)
- Istanbul Museum of Modern Art (Istanbul Modern Sanat Müzesi)
- Rustem Pasha Mosque (Rüstem Paşa Camii)
- Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi)
- Galata Mevlevi Museum (Galata Mevlevihanesi Müzesi)
- Pera Museum (Pera Müzesi)
- Spice Bazaar (Misir Carsisi)
- Eyup Sultan Mosque