Isolate yourself from tourist crowds, leave aside what you read or heard about top attractions of Istanbul, and crown your trip with Balat Edirnekapi Route. Wander through hilly, narrow streets of Balat, witness daily life of conservative community in Carsamba, then reward yourself with precious mosaics of Chora Museum.
Some of daily tourist tours stop at Chora Museum, but Balat, Carsamba, or Fethiye Museum aren’t in most of travelers’ “to do list”. Whole trip may take 3-5 hours, depending on your condition. You are going to start your tour from Fener, once a Jewish neighborhood settled on the bank of Goldenhorn. Fener is a walkable distance from Eminonu, alternatively you may also leave at Halic station of M2 metro line to reach Fener. If you have time you may check Sveti Stefan Bulgarian Church before your visit. Once you are ready for a challenging day, cross the street to the narrow streets of Balat. You will see a huge, red brick building dominates the hill, the Greek Orthodox College (Rum Lisesi in Turkish) will be the familiar spot when you are lost in hilly labyrinths of Balat. Just wander around, and smile to children who are playing outside. If you are lucky enough, you may find yourself being the goalkeeper of neighborhood child football team. Smell of newly washed clothes that hang between old houses filled streets of Balat. You will feel living rich history throughout your tour. Dome mosaics Balat EdirnekapiPass Greek Orthodox College and keep climbing. Once you reach to top, you may feel as if you are in Middle East. Welcome to Carsamba. One of the most conservative neighborhood in Istanbul, bearded men wears kaftans and shalwars, women wears chadors, as an Islamic sect named Ismailaga Cemaati settled in this area. Please bear in mind, as you are in Islamic conservative neighborhood, you should wear clothes respectful to their belief; too much flesh may disturb them. Check Pammakaristos Church (Fethiye Camii), as it will be on your road, and Museum Pass Istanbul (5 days-115TL) allows you to enter there without buying ticket. Once a church, then a mosque, Pammakaristos now serves as a museum. You will see great examples of Byzantine mosaics inside. Then head to Chora Museum, which will take 15 minutes on foot. Without a doubt, everyone who visits can clearly say that best mosaic and frecoes are in Chora Museum. They are all in good shape and well preserved.
Depending on how you feel, you may keep going to Eyup then end the day inPierre Loti or cross the Goldenhorn for Rahmi M. Koc Museum and Miniaturk. If you think Balat Edirnekapi challenge is enough for one day, go down through the sea. Once you reach the main road most of the buses go to Eminonu and Taksim.