Istanbul’s Colorful District: Balat

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Tuğçe Şen Baş, a.k.a. @bakmadangezme, one of Istanbul’s locals, wrote about the old district of Istanbul, Balat, for you.

Istanbul has always excited me since my childhood. I guess it might be the effect of having my first flight here when I was in elementary school.

I traveled and saw all over this city. There have been places I have enjoyed again and again without getting bored. Here Balat is one of them. You may feel like Istanbul as your home and Balat as your garden.

When you type “Balat” in the Google Maps application search bar, it will lead you in the right direction anyway. As the streets are narrow, you may have some trouble in parking your car. However, there are also car-parks in the area.

Here is the beautiful Balat list I’ve prepared for you.

1. Merdivenli Yokuş (Slope with Stairs) – Phanar Houses

When it comes to colorful houses, this is the first place that comes to mind. You can reach this place by going up the hill a little. These colorful houses of Balat will fascinate you.

2. Kiremit Street Houses

Of course, colorful houses are not only on Merdivenli Yokuş. We also shouldn’t forget the houses lined up side by side on Kiremit Street Balat.

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Location: View on Google Maps
Foursquare: View

Comments and experiences: I especially love the colorful houses on Kiremit Street.

3. Cennet (Heaven) Neighborhood – Fener Külhanı Street

Apart from having colorful houses, this street has been on different Turkish series. For instance, Pembe’s house from the series called Cennet Mahallesi is located here. This street, with its colorful and brick houses is a must see in Balat.

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Location: View on Google Maps
Foursquare: View

Comments and experiences: Maybe you can look for some scenes from this TV series, so that you can depict them while you’re touring the neighborhood.

4. Camcı Çeşmeci Yokuşu (Glassman Fountain Slope) – Colorful Doors

This is for you if you love not only colorful houses but also colorful doors, colorful doors lined side by side on this slope will welcome you in Balat streeet.

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Location: View on Google Maps

Comments and experiences: Stand in front of the doors for amazing photos!

5. Gemi Ev (Ship House)

There is also Balat’s famous Ship House in Balat street. You can see the spitting image of a ship if you take a picture from above the slope. If you want to take a picture without people in the background, you may have to wait a lot, like I did.

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Comments and experiences:We recommend you go up the hill to see the image of ship better.

6. Surp Hreşdagabed Armenian Church


In its 600-year history, it has been destroyed by fire many times and has been rebuilt over and over again. This church is one of the places you must see in Balat street.

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Location: View on Google Maps
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Comments and experiences:You feel the history when you are inside of this church.

7. Church of St. Mary of the Mongols

Another place to visit in Balat street is this church.  It is the only church from the Byzantine period, it was protected by the sultan’s decree by not turning it into a mosque.

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Open Hours: 8:30 – 16:00 (except the mass celebrated on Sunday at 9:15 – 12:00) 
Location:
View on Google Maps
Foursquare: View

Comments and experiences: Please, be aware of the open hours. We could not enter because it was closed. I hope you get lucky and you can go inside and see the place protected by sultan’s decree

8. Phanar Greek Orthodox College


I want to correct a false fact about this place in Balat street. While adding location in social media, everyone adds this place as “Greek Patriarchate”, and Google does not correct it. Friends, the correct name of this place is “Private Phanar Greek High School and Secondary School”.

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Location: View on Google Maps
Foursquare: View

Comments and experiences: If you are a small group, they may allow you to tour the building. But, it may not be the case for bigger groups. Afterall, it is a high school.

9. İncir Ağacı (Fig Tree) Cafe and Balat Antik Cafe


The İncir Ağacı Cafe with its colorful stairs and the Balat Antique Café, famous for its colorful umbrellas, have become the most frequently visited places for photographers. You can also have a pleasant time in these two cafes located side by side.

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Open Hours: 09:00 – 00:00
Location:
View on Google Maps
Foursquare: View

Comments and experiences: It’s awesome to have two amazing cafes side by side! Also you’ll enjoy colorful umbrellas a lot.

10. Agora Tavern

Agora Tavern, one of the oldest taverns in Istanbul, is among my favorite places. I definitely recommend it to those who love tavern culture with its nostalgic atmosphere and delicious appetizers.

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