The district takes its name from the Greek word palation, meaning palace. The name Balat Kapusu, used after the conquest, ii thought to have derived from this word. The history of Balat dates back to the Byzantine Period, when it was a Jewish district. This was also one of the leading Jewish districts in Istnabul in the Ottoman Empire, with unique architecture, churches, synagogues, trade guilds, publich baths, and social life. the contemporary Balat may rathe appeal to those specially interested.
The Balat district is of historic importance for the Jews of Istanbul. The reason for this is the all the Jews who immigrated to Istanbul of who were exiled to the city moved to this region and settled here. Thus, after the conquest of Istanbul, the Jews who immigrated from Macedonia and Spain all resided here.
According to the deed of trust kepth Fatih, the first arrivals in Balat were around 100 poor Jewish families from Kastoria, Macedonia. These families built the Kastoria Synagogue and started living around it. After this, Istanbul continued to attract Jewish immigrants, The Jews who fled the Inquisition in Spain in 1492 came to Balat and Built the Geruş, Neve Şalom, Mesina and Montias Synagogues. Also, some Jews who came from Rhodes in 1599 moved to Balat. After the great fire in 1660, the Jews who had been living Bahçekapı, Tahtakale and Yemiş Wharf in the Eminonu district also moved to Balat.
After the second half of the 19th century, most of the residents of Balat emigrated to the Galata district. The income tax low in 1842 and the foundation of Isreal in 1948 were important factors in their departure from Balat.
In the Vicinity of Balat
Sveti Stefan Church, This church is between Balat Vapur Iskelesi Street and Mursel Pasha Street, on the right side of the road going along the Golden Horn as goes from Fener to Balat. The Bulgarian word sveti means saint.
Tahta Minare (Wooden Minaret) Mosque, This mosque is located on Vodina Street. It was constructed on the orders of Sultan Mehmed II in 1458. In 1865, when the mosque was in a derelict state, it was renovated by Halil Agha of Sivas, who was in charge of the Tahtaminare publich baths. It was renovated again through donations from the congregation in 1957.
Ahirda Synagogue, This synagogue is located on Kürkçü Çeşme Street. It was constructed in the 15th century and the name derives from the city of Ohri, which is where the congregation immigrated from to Istnabul.
Surp Hreshdogaben Church, This church is located on a street 500 meters from Balatkapi, The well-known church, located in the old Bulgarian street, was originally a Russian Orthodox church, called Haghi Eustratios in the 16th century; this was given to the Armenians in 1627. The church was blessed by Isdepenos of Bursa in the same year. The epigraph on the wall behind the main altar was reveals that the church was renovated in 1628.
Balat Mosque, This mosque is located in the Molla Aski region, Mahkemealti Street, of the Balat district. It is thought taht it was designed by the architect Sinan. The mosque was used as a dervish lodge and is the center of small complex.
Balat Iskele, This stone building is located outside the Balatkapisi, in Karabaş Mahallesi and Vapur Iskelesi Street. It was constructed in the time of Sultan Mehmed I the Conqueror. It was destroyed by the fire in 1892 and it underwent repairs which gave it its current structure. The walls of the building are made of stone. The entrance to the mosque is through its south face. There is a fountain at the left side and a storeroom at the right side.
Balat Wharf, In Balat there used to be wharfs that connected the Golden Horn to other districts in Istanbul. These were teh Yemiş Wharf, which was connected to stores in Eminönü and used for the transportation of dried fruits, the Odun Wharf, the wharf that connected Eyüp to Galata, and the Kayik Wharf, which served the dense Hasköy-Balat traffic.
Balat Hospital, Or- Ahayim Hospital was constructed in 1858. The hospital building was closed in 18883, when it consisted of a small house. In its place or-Ahayim Foundation was established to provide healthcare. The foundations of the current Or-Ahayim Hospital were laid in the 1886 and it started providing services in 1898. Later, a synagogue was built inside the hospital.