This amazing historical home is located in the old Greek neighbourhood of Balat. The apartment is situated over six floors – navigated by an astonishing staircase – and features a wonderful roof-top terrace. This is an excellent choice for a group of friends – it can sleep up to six – who are interested in staying outside of the usual tourist neighbourhoods.
Atmospheric and tumble-down, Balat and nearby Fener are among Istanbul’s most atmospheric neighbourhoods. Given its charming architecture and central location it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been gentrified by now – perhaps that is yet to come? The Greek and Jewish heritage of the neighbourhood reminds the visitor of the city’s geography as well as its heritage of tolerance – it welcomed Sephardic Jews feeling the Spanish inquisition in the 15th century. If you are staying here you might like to read the somewhat flawed but nonetheless entertaining Pretty Dead Things by Barbara Nadel set around these parts. A spiritual highlight of the neighbourhood is the 15th century Ahrida Synagogue (Kürkçuçeşme Sokak 9, Balat) but you’ll have to apply for permission to visit at least 24 hours beforehand if you’d like to see inside.
What We Love
If you’re looking for a unique experience loaded with personal touches this is it. As one of the reviewers points out – decorative touches such as suitcases transformed into storage space and ‘boat dial’ light switches – reflect Istanbul’s heritage as a port city, a cultural centre that traditionally has welcomed travellers of all kinds. The roof-top is reportedly excellent – we can’t think of a better place to wind down and watch the sunset over the Golden Horn after a hectic day of sightseeing!
As per the description – there are six levels and a big staircase – obviously not recommended if you are not particularly mobile. On the upside, what better way to work off those generous Turkish portions? If you are staying in Balat we recommend you take a ferry tour of the Golden Horn – and suggest you incorporate a stop at Sentral contemporary art space. Note that it’s about a 30 minute walk to The Grand Bazaar area, a good 50 minutes to the Sultanahmet highlights of Aya Sophia and the Topkapı Palace – otherwise grab a cab.