Right next to the Fener district is Balat, the former Jewish quarter of Istanbul, which developed from 1492 when the Jews persecuted under the Spanish Inquisition were welcomed by the Sultan who even sent his fleet to Spain to rescue them.
It is historically a popular neighborhood, a place of passage for newcomers. Those who succeeded, moved to other neighborhoods like Galata for example. It was the largest district of the Sephardic Jewish community in Constantinople, and there are still 3 active synagogues in Balat (which you can visit after asking the rabbi’s permission).
Nowadays, it is one of the most charming neighborhoods in Istanbul, It is experiencing a new lease of life since the 2000s with the Unesco plan that has allowed the restoration of more than a hundred buildings and the development of Turkish television series that assault the district for its architecture and its unique charm.
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Balat is a lovely area of Istanbul. It is famous for its colourful buildings and pretty cafes. You can get there by bus or by tram and have a walk around the small streets. The food and drinks are cheap there and there are a lot of little souvenir shops as well as antiqurie shops. You shouldn't miss it when you visit Istanbul. Have you been there? Do you reccomend any restaurant in that area?
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Balat Barat District
Now this neighborhood has become an art venue for young people to gather, and cafes of all sizes have become a new trend. I walked across the wooden structures on both sides of the road. They used to be the place where Jews lived and are now transformed into art galleries and shops in Istanbul.
During the Byzantine period, there were many Greeks who settled here, and there are also Orthodox churches. In the 17th century, they built a majestic stone house, decorated with ornate marble.
A strong earthquake at the end of the 19th century, rich Jewish and Greek people have withdrawn from the area. It quickly became the lowest immigrant settlement in the society.
Balat is almost one of the richest, most fascinating and characteristic areas in history.
is even listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
However, even so, there are only a handful of tourists from Istanbul who come to these places. It is also very emotional.
The more you go up, the road will start to narrow into a labyrinth and the slope will be steeper. Climb a picturesque staircase to reach the top of the mountain, where the ancient walls of Constantinople were once, where it was built in the 13th century with one of the least known churches and cities.