Istanbul Balat Guide From Local
I lived in the Historical peninsula Fatih Istanbul for more than 10 years. Let’s walk together in the old street passing through 1000 years old cisterns, mosques, old houses, churches and many more…
We will begin to walk from the corner of Yavuz Selim street and Darussafaka Street. It has one of the entrances to Istanbul’s biggest street bazaar “Çarşamba Pazarı”
Here is my route for the Balat guide beginning from the center of the Yavuz Selim area in Fatih: https://bit.ly/yavuzselimroute It’s only 3 minutes walk from where I lived for more than 10 years in the area. It is one of the oldest districts in Istanbul, a historical peninsula.
When I look back I am very proud that I lived there. But the thing is you don’t really feel that appreciated when you are living, dealing with many daily things in your life. In the Fatih area, the streets are usually very narrow and there are not many distances between the building. And since I was living on the street level actually I didn’t see much sunlight at my house nor was able to see the sky from home. It was really disappointing after a while.
But when I go out the beautiful Golden Horn view was just 5 minutes walk away from me passing through The Sultan Cistern: https://goo.gl/maps/F1VFjtdgeQT8ADY28 and going through the 15th century Yavuz Selim Mosque to the balcony area to reach the view.
Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque
The Yavuz Selim Mosque (Turkish: Yavuz Selim Camii) was built in the 16th century during Ottoman rule. It was commissioned by the sultan Sulayman the Magnificent in memory of his father Selim I who is buried here.
The mosque is built on a terrace on the crest of one of Istanbul’s seven hills, in Çukurbostan. The Cukurbostan is now serving as a public garden. A park where you can make a picnic, we used to go there a lot. The views from the northeast of the complex, looking out over the Golden Horn, are magnificent.
It is more basic than the other imperial mosques with just a single large dome on top of a square room with a courtyard in front of it. The avlu ( courtyard) in front of the prayer hall is quite beautiful, with a central fountain surrounded by tall cypress trees. The floor of the portico is paved with a floral design and the columns are made from a variety of marbles and granites.
After the hill of Yavuz Sultan Selim, I continue my walk passing from Phanar Greek Orthodox College. The magnificent look of the school always gives you a different feeling coming from the past. The current school building is located near the Church of St. George in the neighborhood of Fener (Phanar in Greek), which is the seat of the Patriarchate. It is known among the locals with nicknames such as The Red Castle and The Red School.
After about a 500m walk from the church, you reach the famous Kiremit street in Balat. It is where everyone loves to take photos with traditional characteristic colorful Balat houses.
What To Eat In Balat
When I was living in Fatih I used to come to visit our friend in Balat. It was between 2005-2015. And I witnessed the change of the look, the shops and cafes opened in the area. The first thing you will see in the Balat area is little French-style cafes. Actually, I am not a fan of the coffee houses there. Because it is not original and doesn’t fit the history of the place. But of course if you want to stop for a nice filtered coffee there are many cozy places to go in.
The only place I know from old times is the old bakery Evin Pastanesi. https://goo.gl/maps/3nRP8i9y4nDgmbb86 It is across the street from where our friend lives. We almost never left without buying galettes for home. They bake it in the old-style wooden fire oven and highly recommend trying it. You can also try acıbadem kurabiyesi (kind of almond amaretti cookies)
If you are looking for a restaurant serving traditional Turkish food Sahan Lokantası https://goo.gl/maps/9oV7yLanWQkduSjd8 might be a good choice.
Here is the live stream I made the same day in Balat: https://youtu.be/ih53OyXfa-E
You might also like to read:
Suleymaniye Mosque Complex From Local Eye
Amasya Travel Guide: Food, History & Culture
Turkish Spinach Flatbread Gozleme
The vlog about the Bazar is here: t.ly/VUIj
Other places I stopped in the video:
- The Yavuz Selim Mosque Complex: https://goo.gl/maps/r1zhUTi9uRbN2gxH8
- Phanar Greek Orthodox College: https://goo.gl/maps/53mVZtg7bgqgj9EbA
- Famous Kiremit Street for photo lovers 🙂 https://goo.gl/maps/WLKmznWbgSZpBPKU7
- Old Evin Bakery where I bought Galettes: https://goo.gl/maps/3nRP8i9y4nDgmbb86