It's been a while since I started this tell, but I can't let this unfinished because this place was a real discovery for me. So, we are in the European part of Istanbul today, in a historic area on the west coast of Golden Horn Bay. Let's walk on the edge of Balat and Fener.
Bright, atmospheric, contrasting, it will surprise you and make you smile. And you'll definitely have a lot of cool photo locations, even on a rainy day like this.
Balat is located in Fatih municipal district, and this is one of the oldest quarters in the city. Bordered on the west side with Ayvansaray district, the eastern part of Balat borders the Fener.
The name “Balat” goes back to the Latin language - “palatium” and is translated as “palace” (not difficult to guess), and in Greek (as this is the area where Greeks dwell since ancient times), it is “palation”. This name, presumably, was given in honor of the Palace of Porphyrogenitus of the Byzantine era, which was once located nearby.
Until recently, Balat is the main Jewish quarter of Istanbul. In the 15th century, at the invitation of Sultan Bayezid II, families of Sephardic Jews settled in this place. These were refugees from Spain who came to Istanbul, which is more friendly to them. "Sephard" in translation from Hebrew - "Spaniard".
Jews began to improve their personal area in the city. For 4 centuries, the Jewish community of Balat built 12 synagogues. For a long time Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians lived in peace next to the Jews. The neighborhood of different peoples and three religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) has created a special flavor of the area. Synagogues, mosques, Greek, Bulgarian and Armenian churches are located not far from each other on the streets of the Balat district.
At the end of the 19th century, driven by constant fires and earthquakes, the Jews began to gradually move to other areas, and many of them left Turkey for Israel and settled there forever.
There are very few Jews left in the Balat area. After the Istanbul pogrom of 1955, most of the Armenian and Greek indigenous people also fled their homes. The deserted buildings were inhabited by Kurds, poor Turks from eastern Anatolia, and Roma. The area has turned into a slum and has long been considered dangerous.
Gradually, the beautiful, well-kept houses were dilapidated, and Balat turned into the poorest district of Istanbul. But the tradition of calling it Jewish has survived. Of course, here you can still find a Jew who speaks a mixture of Yiddish and the Ottoman language (Ladino), but this is now a great rarity.
Soon, designer and antique shops with nostalgic relics, vintage cafes, and concept art restaurants began to open in the abandoned houses of Balat. Workshops of art glass, wooden products, hand made ceramics have been opened in the district. This was due to the inexpensive cost of houses and rental of premises. Today Balat is considered the bohemian district of Istanbul.
The new history of the Balat region began in 2017, after the release of the Turkish TV series "Çukur" ("The Pit"). The picturesque streets of the neighboring Ayvansaray district became the heroes of the popular film. Fans of the series began to come here. Balat itself has no outstanding landmarks. To attract and interest tourists, the area was painted, conceptual establishments were opened, interesting photo zones were created: colorful staircases, authentic houses, umbrellas on the streets, colorful cafes.
But in the evening it is still not worth walking here. The further into the poorer quarters of the area, the more dangerous it is for a tourist. So, let's walk and enjoy the views in the daylight!
And this is all for today.
Thank you for your visit and your time, hope you enjoyed it.
All photos used in my posts are taken and owned by myself. If you wish to use any of my images please contact me @zirochka.
If you liked it much enough to continue, here I collected all my posts about Istanbul. Enjoy!
|Day 1 - Exploring the city.|
Little Hagia Sophia
Amazing Haya Sophia
|Istanbul. Lost City. Part #1||Istanbul. Lost City. Part #2||Southern night in Istanbul|
|Walk On By Tops||Rainy day||Istanbul Birds|
|Stories of Istanbul cats - for #Caturday||"My Belle Fener". Another photo story of Istanbul. Part #1|