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Basilica Cistern or Sunken Palace

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Balat Istanbul

Balat Istanbul
Balat is often paired with Fener but it is actually the poorer cousin that sits on the southern shore of the Golden Horn between Fener and Ayvansaray . There was a large Jewish population here, similar to Haskoy , and has several significant synagogues, and other Jewish buildings, standing among the churches and mosques of the area. Although recently Balat has undergone some restoration work through a project by UNIESCO/EU and certain areas are rapidly transforming, it does remain rather run down.

History

The original Jewish settlement were from Macedonia, and in 1492,  
after being evicted from their country by Ferdinand and Isabella, Spanish Jews were invited to resettle here by Sultan Beyazıd II. Later other refugees arrived from Portugal (the Marranos) and also from Rhodes with Balat becoming known as “Yahudi Balat (Jewish Balat). These immigrants brought new inventions with them that included the printing press which was introduced to Constantinople in 1493. Balat once had 19 synagogues in its neighbourhood but only a few Jews remain there today as most immigrated to Israel with the poor Eastern Turkey immigrants moving in to take their place.
Balat in Greek actually means “palation (palace)” which probably referred to it being close to Blachernae Palace.

Places to visit in Balat

Balat Market
Vodina Caddesi or Road
Ferruh Kethüda Mosque
Church of St. John the Baptist
Surp Hreşdagabed Church
Church of Hagios Demetrios Kanabu
Hazreti Cabit Mosque
Ahrida Synagogue

Turkish Bath or Hamam in Balat

There are a couple of Turkish baths in Balat we recommend; the Çavuş Hamam, which is close to Ferruh Kethuda Mosque, and has separate sections for men and women or the Tahta Minare Hamam on Vodina Road that has different times for men and women.

Getting to Balat

Take the ferry from Eminonu or Karakoy (www.ido.com.tr) or Bus No. 99a from Eminönü or from Taksim Bus No. 55T

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Turkish Food Recipes

Turkish Minced Beef Pide - Red Meat Courses

Main Course

Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Rolls - Vegetable Mezes

Cold Meze

Aubergine with Minced Meat - Vegetable Courses

Main Course

Lamb Shank Kebab with Vegetables - Red Meat Courses

Main Course

Turkish Pastrami Borek - Pastries

Tea Time Pastry

Sekerpare - Almond Pastries - Other Desserts

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