another of the Istanbul quarters
in which Jews were settled after
their expulsion from Spain, enlarging
a community which had lived here
since Byzantine times.
Balat is a working-class district
on the shores of the Golden
Horn. Though it once had as many
as nineteen synagogues, only two
of importance remain, the famous Ahrida,
and the neighboring Yanbol.
The site of a Jewish school is
close by, and Or Ahayim Jewish
Hospital is several hundred meters
to the northwest, within walking
distance. Remember to make arrangements
in advance with the Chief
Rabbinate to visit these sites.
in this district are the cast-iron
Bulgarian Orthodox church of St.
Stephen of the Bulgars, the Kariye
Museum (Chora Church with
Byzantine mosaics), the massive city
walls, and the ruins of the Byzantine palace
known as Tekfur
is on the southern shore of the Golden
Horn, between the Atatürk
and Fatih bridges.
you plan to visit the Kariye
Museum with its 14th-century
Byzantine mosaics, and the nearby Tekfur
Saray Byzantine palace, you may
want to visit these places first,
then walk one kilometer downhill
to the Ahrida and Yanbol synagogues.
are walking directions: facing the
front door of the Kariye Museum,
go to your left around the building
on Kariye Türbesi Sokak and
downhill to Sultan Çesme
Caddesi, where you turn left.
Follow Sultan Çesme Caddesi
downhill; it changes names to become Kürkçü
Çesmesi Sokak, and continues
to the base of the slope, where it
becomes Vodina Caddesi. Just
past the intersection with Haci Isa
Mektebi Sokak, on the right (south)
side of Vodina Caddesi, is the Ahrida
go directly to the Ahrida and Yanbol
synagogues, take a bus or taxi to
Balat. The street on the southern
shore of the Golden Horn bears several
names as it meanders along; in Balat
it is named Mürsel Pasa Caddesi.
Take a bus or taxi along Mürsel
Pasa Caddesi to the Köprübasi bus
stop and walk up Çicekli
Bostan Sokak, the short, narrow
street heading southwest. Cross the
first street, Hizir Çavus
Köprüsü Sokak, and
at the second street, Vodina Caddesi,
turn right. Walk four short blocks
along Vodina Caddesi to the Ahrida
Synagogue, which is on the left-hand
side at no. 9, behind the metal door
topped by a marble plaque with Hebrew
TO SEE IN BALAT
famous of Istanbul's
old synagogues, the Ahrida
Synagogue, also called the
Okhrida, is at no. 9 on the street
officially named Vodina Caddesi,
but often called Kürkçü Çesme
Sokak. The Ahrida and nearby Yanbol
are said to take their names from
the towns in Macedonia from
which their founding congregations
migrated in Byzantine times. The foundations of
the Ahrida may date from the late
1400s, or may be even older.
Synagogue, Duriye Sokak no.
16, directly opposite Kamis Sokak,
is less than a block from the Ahrida.
The Yanbol's interior is similar
in appearance to the Ahrida before
restoration, though the decor here
seems more unified. Paintings in
the dome are said to portray the
Macedonian town of Yanbol,
from which members of the original
back to the shore road along the Golden
Horn, turn left, and walk 500
meters to the Or Ahayim Jewish
Hospital (also called the Balat
Musevi Hastanesi), Demirhisar
Caddesi, built in 1897. A 120-bed
hospital attended mostly by Jewish
physicians, it's located in the swath
of parkland created in the mid-1980s
to beautify the Golden Horn's banks.
you return to Eminönü along
the shore of the Golden
Horn, you pass the Bulgarian
of St. Stephen of the Bulgars,
on the left-hand side of the road,
made entirely of cast iron.
Interest Sites in:
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of the Ahrida (Okhrida)
Synagogue in Balat, on the Golden
Horn in Istanbul.
Ahayim Jewish Hospital,
and Torah scroll belltop (rimon) with
Turkish star-and-crescent motif.