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Travel: Discovering Balat and Fener

It’s been ages since I’ve travelled across the Golden Horn for good old fashioned sightseeing so on a rare mild weather day recently, we headed over to explore the historic neighbourhoods of: Balat & Fenner in Istanbul, Alhamdulillah. I had this on my bucket list as it's usually cited as the slightly lesser known tourist spots as well as being interested to see yet another different side to this rich, captivating city! 

Situated near Eminonu, on the European side of Istanbul, there are several buses headed in that direction and we took the 99 Bus.

Being a random Monday, there were tourists milling around but it was crowd free and restaurants were quiet making social distancing easy and feasible everywhere we went. 

Equipped with a  guide book and Google maps on our phone, we walked around the area, stopping for breakfast and later snacks (Pancake house).

Here’s the highlights from our 3 hour self tour:

Breakfast at Balat Antik Cafe - beautiful garden setting with a great menu for breakfast, coffees with fresh gozleme and juices on offer.

Walking along between the significant sights, we came across charming streets, colourful tables, beautiful settings to admire or sit down and enjoy. There are also quirky stores, really nice to browse around and support local designers and stores.                                                

Funny street art -very apt! 

Greek Orthodox College: A really interesting story is about how when Conqueror Mehmet conquered Constantinople (Istanbul today) he granted immunity for the Church of St Mary to remain a Greek church and the signed order is in the church today. This was how Christians, Muslims and Jews lived alongside each other. 

Mesnevihane Tekkesi- musjid, lodge where sufism was taught. This is located on a rather steep hill - but worth the short walk up to see these places and the view. There is also a musjid up here if you need a prayer stop.

 There's plenty of cute cats and cafes here, you'll never get enough of. Make sure you have your camera and good walking shoes! It's a worthwhile visit if you have been here a while or on your third or subsequent trip to Istanbul and want to experience a different vibe in the city. The walk itself around the area between sites is probably around 45 minutes. Adding in leisurely stroll, snack and meal breaks and that's how we spent about 3 hours here.

Have you been to Balat or will you be adding it to your travel itinerary for your next trip? (when safe and feasible!) Share with us your favourite thing about this neighbourhood below.
Exploring Istanbul, one amazing little spot at a time,
Taskeen, travel happy!


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