Istanbul: in search of abandoned sites


I think everybody heard about the favorite tourist routes in Istanbul:

Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the tour on the Bosphorus, Princes Islands, Taksim square, Istyklyal street and etc.

And very rare tourists are enough brave to walk in Balat district followed by a cold autumn wind in search of the oldest Byzantine Palace ruins.

But Russian people are not afraid of cold wind, and we were nicely walking on the coast of Bosphorus to the Balat district. Marina in this part of Istanbul is full of interesting old ship like this.

Old interesting ship

It was the next day after the Republic Day. It is one of the most important holidays in Turkey and Istanbul was very beautiful with red Turkish flags and Portraits of Ataturk everywhere.

Istanbul - turkish flag

We entered Balat district and Balat met us with very nice café – Cooklife. We drank coffee and tea and went to the small side-streets of Balat in search of the Palace of Blachernae.

Balat - cafe Cooklife

But I will leave Palace for “dessert”. First, about Balat. It’s very authentic, atmospheric area. It is not like a cozy creative Cihangir, it does not look like a tourist Istiklal, not like Kadikoy, it is completely different.

Here you can find cute cafes, right near very poor and destroyed houses.

Balat, cafe Balat - cafe Balat, cafe Balat, street Balat, cafe Balat, cafe Balat, nice house Old houses Balat old houses Balat, old houses Balat, street Old houses

Balat is quite poor and not very comfortable and modern area. But it is one of the oldest district. You can see here clothes hunged on the balconies and even like flags above the street, very old walls almost ruins, and at the same time everything is just full of history. This is one of the oldest areas of Istanbul, it is associated with the Byzantine Empire, and it is especially attractive. Walking among these ancient houses, you feel that they are built on real history, and you are walking like on ancient stones. And sometimes these poor houses are really build on the walls of ancient historical buildings.

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Old doors, they are like doors to secret passage of history.


And very beautiful building of old Green lyceum (now closed).

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So, you can walk and enjoy here very long time. But not only because it is so interesting, but because it is so easy to get lost here especially for modern tourists who used to follow their navigators. Navigators working here very strange, they are showing your location and the way very far from reality.

And it is quite difficult to find even one of the oldest monument of Byzantine Empire – ruins of Palace of Blachernae.

But we never give up.

And after two-three circles somewhere around, we found the ancient walls of the Palace. They were a bit visible at the end of the small side-street.


We found parking for touristic buses, garbage, strange fence, trucks, and small park.

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We found café near ancient walls.

But! We couldn’t find entrance to the Palace! We didn’t see any tourists here. So, who came with these buses? Nobody knows 🙂

We were walking around Palace walls, but no entrance. This place looks like very old, very interesting Palace, but it is abandoned.

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By the way if you trust Vikipedia it is very important Palace for Byzantian history and for Ortodox church. The Byzantian Emperor was living here. And in 1453 turks entered Constantinople from this place.

So, it was a nice weekend at old Balat district. It is interesting and important place but just a small part of Istanbul’s treasures.

So, Istanbul…. Gorgeous, interesting, atmospheric city and probably a bit offended by his predecessor – Constantinople.

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