Balat, Istanbul

The area of Balat has been announced as renewal site by UNESCO

Istanbul, Turkey

Balat is the traditional Jewish quarter in the Fatih district of Istanbul in the old city on the historic peninsula, on the western bank of the Golden Horn. It dates back during during the Byzantine period as well as during the Ottoman period. The Jews fled the area only after the strong earthquake of 1894, moving to the neighbourhood of Galata and some emigrating to Israel.

The neighborhood of Balat houses Orthodox churches, starting with Agios Nikolaos church as the protector of those at sea dating back to 1576. Another important landmark, Gül Camii (Rose Mosque), the Orthodox Church of Hagia Theodosia, located near the Sea Walls of the Golden Horn near Aya Kapı (Holy Gate). Synagogues, as many as three are also housed in the area of Balat the functioning and open to visitors, the beautiful Arhida Synagogue.

The area of Balat has been announced as renewal site by UNESCO in 2006 and the mission is to regenerate the historical residential units, to promote the area as a historical reincarnation and to preserve socio-cultural identities.

The socio-economic revitalization and transformation of the Fener neighbourhood brought gentrification. In many cases, the lower-income residents who originally lived in these districts had to move out because they could no longer afford to live there and a handful of trendy coffee shops are starting to appear, especially noticeable around the area bordering the Golden Horn.

Balat, Istanbul