Welcome to Balat
For a captivating glance into life during medieval times, pay a visit to the Islamic village of Balat, 35km east of Mut. Built during the era of the Mamluks and Turks on a site that dates back to the Old Kingdom, charismatic winding lanes weave through low-slung corridors past Gaudí-like moulded benches. Palm fronds are still used for shelter as smoothly rounded walls ease into each other. The tiny doors here were... Read More
Top experiences in Balat
Istanbul Small-Group Tour: Dolmabahce Palace
Start your tour with a pickup from your European-side hotel in Istanbul by luxury Mercedes minivan. Settle back in air-conditioned comfort as your guide talks to you about Istanbul’s rich history — from Byzantine and Ottoman eras to the current day — on the way to your first stop.Hop out of your minivan at Dolmabahçe Palace and head inside to explore. The grandiose building was one of the last Ottoman Empire palaces to be built, and its architectural style presents a medley of influences, blending opulent Ottoman and Neoclassical design. Learn about its history while walking amid chandeliers, marble and gilded furnishings.After your tour of Dolmabahçe Palace, travel to the artsy neighborhood of Beyoğlu where the prestigious Istanbul Modern Art Museum awaits. Focusing on contemporary Turkish artwork, the museum covers two floors of a converted warehouse and is home to an array of temporary exhibitions as well as a cinema and arts library. Learn about the art, and admire highlights such as the permanent art history exhibition. Then, head out on a walking tour around the Balat area, the cultural heart of Istanbul’s Jewish community. Stroll along the streets, and look out for the Ecumencial Orthodox Patriarchate, an intriguing church compound where the ceremonial head of the Greek Orthodox Church is based.Leave Balat and travel to Rüstem Pasha Mosque, one of the city’s gems. Small yet spectacular, the mosque boasts an eye-catching interior with incredible tiles that adorn the walls and ceiling. After admiring the interiors, travel onward to Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar. Scout out the most interesting stalls to visit, hear bargaining tips, and then bid your guide a fond farewell as your tour finishes.
Byzantine Istanbul Tour Along the Golden Horn
The tour starts with a ferry ride from Eminonu or Karakoy zigzagging both sides of the Golden Horn to end in Ayvansaray. Ayvansaray is where Constantinople officially ended so we’ll see and walk along the mighty Byzantine walls of Theodosius from 5th Century. The first visit is an extraordinary Greek Orthodox Church – Mary Blachernae. The only church in the whole world where there’s a service on a Friday morning. Built on a sacred water source, the church is a pilgrimage for Greek people.You will be climbing the 7th hill of the city as we make our way to one of the oldest Byzantine Palaces from the 13th Century ( Tekfur Sarayi).The highlight of the trip is the famous Chora, the Byzantine marvel of mosaics and frescoes.Then the tour will walk back through Balat which houses one of Istanbul’s surviving medieval synagogues and trendiest houses that are now enjoying their second or even third type of use.In Fener, you will see the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate housing a column, which is believed to have been used for the binding and flogging of Jesus in Jerusalem.
Full-Day Private Istanbul Jewish Heritage Tour
Discover the Jewish history of Istanbul on a full-day private tour with multilingual guide.Visit the Balat district to see the Ahrida Synagogue, one of the oldest and most prominent of Istanbul’s synagogues. Visit the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Karaköy, built in response to an increase in the Jewish population in the Galata neighborhood. Continue to Ashkenazi Synagogue, the only active Ashkenazi synagogue in Istanbul open to visits.At the heart of Jewish Istanbul, in the old Galata district, you will visit the Jewish Museum, established in 2001 on the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Sephardic Jews to the Ottoman Empire. Remodeled in the former Zülfaris Synagogue, the museum features artifacts, relics, letters and torah scrolls that tell the story of the Jews in Istanbul and Anatolia.There will also be time to see the former mosque and Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia, now considered one of the world’s architectural masterpieces. End in the Grand Bazaar, and bargain for handmade carpets, jewelry and leather souvenirs before your transfer back to the port or hotel.End of the tour your tour guide will escort you back to your port / hotel.