02-01-2023 - Places

Istanbul’s colorful neighborhood: A guide to Balat

Istanbul has so much to offer! There are many attractions, museums, and experience zones in this magnificent city. So that you do not get lost in all these offers, we have selected the best for you and created the Istanbul Tourist Pass®! There are 80+ attractions, guided tours, and experiences for a single price. Check out here and compare for yourself! 

If you are ready to discover Istanbul, let’s start with Balat! Located on the southern shore of Golden Horn, Balat is one of the oldest and most spectacular districts of İstanbul. Famous for its historical heritage, colorful streets, various churches, and synagogue, Balat has become one of the most known tourist zones of İstanbul in recent years. Once you set foot in Balat, it surrounds you with a unique atmosphere. Let’s start discovering Balat! 

The History of Balat 

Balat is a multicultural district, home to many Jewish and Greek Orthodox families. You will meet a range of churches, synagogues, and historic buildings as you walk around the cobbled streets of Balat. 

With its red silhouette and magnificent architecture, The Phanar Greek Orthodox College is located in Fener, Adjacent to Balat. It is the oldest surviving and most prestigious Greek Orthodox school in Istanbul, Türkiye. The college is also one of the most photographed attractions of visitors with its gorgeous structure and signature red color. 

The Bulgarian Church, also known as the Iron Church, is located along the coast of Golden Horn. The iron castings of the church were manufactured in Vienna, and the bell tower was a gift from Russia. The church was built for the Bulgarian minority that left the Fener Greek Patriarchate.

You will come across many religious architectures in the Balat neighborhood.– the Yanbol Synagogue was built by Bulgarian immigrants - and the residents match this with many famous Turks having lived here as well as a Moldavia and Wallachia prince and other dignitaries. The Vaftizci Yahya Church is one of the unique churches in the world, built during the Ottoman period and based on a monastery Sultan Selim I saw during his conquest of Egypt.

In short, Balat is one of the most diverse neighborhoods of İstanbul. Its historic buildings and varied architectural beauties give you this sense the second you walk through it.

Balat’s Colorful Houses

The most known and distinguished part of Balat is its colorful houses. These historic wooden homes are aged between 50 and to 200-year-old.  They are one of the most photographed buildings in İstanbul. And the best place to take a photo is, infamously, Merdivenli Yokuş street (literally, "slope with stairs" street). Here, multicolored cumba houses sit in a row, waiting for tourists to take pictures. When you visit Balat, we recommend you visit this restored area within the scope of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage project.

Food and Shopping in Balat

After discovering the picturesque scenes of the neighborhood, take a break after taking lots of photos and sit at a cafe or restaurant in Balat around Vodina Street and Yıldırım Street.  The diversity of the district has bled into the food options: numerous bakeries, authentic and colorful cafes, restaurants, meyhanes (a type of traditional dinner spot serving alcohol), and so on. 

While you are strolling around the iconic streets of the iconic area, Balat, you will meet various kinds of markets, antique shops, vintage shops, mirror-selling shops, and so on. These places are famous for their traditional wares and fresh produce. You can find many interesting gifts and souvenirs from İstanbul and Türkiye at these shops dotted across Balat.

Balat Toy Museum

The museum, born from a 50-year-old collection, has an exhibition area where you can find toys from the past to the present. You can spend your time with workshops where you can make unique toys for your child and experience old Istanbul in the historic streets of Balat.

Balat Toy Museum shows the variety of toys transferred from the past to the present and the future so that every age group can find a piece of itself. There are collections created by collecting from different regions of the world. In Balat Toy Museum, you can experience toys and workshops with limited and specially made collection value in several areas.

The museum's lower floor features rare toys, unique diecast cars, and detailed doll houses over 1,000 m2 of enclosed space. There is a Museum Cafe in the Balat Toy Museum for those who want to take a break during their visit to the Balat Toy Museum. The Museum Cafe is where you can have a pleasant time with various toys and unique decorations.

Entrance to this unique museum is FREE with Istanbul Tourist Pass® along with other 80+ great attractions! Check here for more! Temporarily unavailable because of construction. 

Bonus: Princes' Islands Boat Trip From Balat

If you have discovered Balat already and are ready to see more, then this trip to Princes’ Islands is perfect for you! Prince's Island is made up of four main islands Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kınalıada. After a great boat trip, you’ll get off Buyukada which is the biggest island and you will have a chance to walk around this beautiful island. 

This dreamy trip is FREE with Istanbul Tourist Pass® along with 80+ great attractions. With more than 25 years of experience in tourism, we have created Istanbul Tourist Pass® to enhance your time in Istanbul so you can fall in love with the city we live in, and come back! Enjoy your time in Istanbul. 


What is Balat known for?

Colorful houses, cobblestone streets, churches, mosques, and synagogues line the streets of Balat, scattered among antique auction houses, trendy cafes, and vintage clothing shops.

How do you spend a day in Balat?

  • Most Popular Things to Do in Balat
  • See colorful houses
  • Visit historical churches
  • Walk around Balat
  • Stop by the famous pickle shop and taste pickles
  • Have a Turkish coffee in one of the colorful cafes
  • Discover Balat Toy Museum- Free with Istanbul Tourist Pass®

Where are colorful houses in Balat?

The colorful Balat houses on Kiremit Street are one of Istanbul's most famous and photographed attractions.

Where is Balat street in Istanbul?

Balat is located on the southern shore of Golden Horn, on the European side of İstanbul.

Who lives in Balat?

Turkish people with different religions and cultures live in harmony in Balat.

How do I get from Balat to Galata Tower?

First, you need to get to Eminonu, you can take the metro from Sishane or you can just simply walk over Galata Bridge. Then take a taxi or a bus to go to Balat.

How to go to Balat from Taksim?

First, you need to get to Eminonu, you can take the metro from Taksim Square or get on a bus to Eminonu. Then take a taxi or a bus to go to Balat.

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