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Step by step on the historical route: Fatih Mosque, Zeyrek, Fener and Balat


We first stop at Fatih Mosque during our tour in which we will come across a historical work at each step we take. Fatih Mosque was built on the highest hill of the city right after the conquest between the years 1463 and 1470.

In the past, there used to be a madrasah and library by the western entrance of the Fatih Külliye but these two structures were destroyed in time. The courtyard in front of us is one of the sections of the mosque surviving the earthquake. We enter the courtyard, with two lines of windows on top of each other at both sides, through a magnificent gate. We soon see a coned fountain with a marble chamber and eight marble columns in this courtyard. The columns and column headers of the portico of this courtyard are beautiful as well but the most interesting element, in my opinion, is the Fatehah and Basmala written down on a piece of white marble on the green Euboean stone of the wall on the entrance side. Basmala and Ayet al-Qursi are also written down in the form of glazed tiles on both wings. These fine works of calligraphy belonged to Yahya Sofi and his son, Ali Bin Sofi. Actually, the calligraphic works are one of the most beautiful elements in the mosque. The altar is also a nice work of carving. The külliye and the madrasah was a university with a capacity of approximately one thousand students at the time.
Behind the wall of the altar are mausoleums of Fatih and his wife, Gülbahar Hatun. 
Zeyrek
One of the most significant neighborhoods to maintain the Ottoman urban structure today and named by UNESCO a “Global Cultural Inheritance” due to the precious memories of all mankind it bears, Zeyrek is known for its wooden windows all built with exedras and jambs. The restoration activities to be carried out as a cooperative effort of the Municipality of Fatih, the National Association of Wooden Works, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, UNESCO, the Governorate of İstanbul and the Metropolitan Municipality of İstanbul are known as “Zeyrek Houses Project” and performed under the title of “A Sound Roof for History”. A neighborhood of juxtaposed houses and curvy streets, Zeyrek holds not only historical but also architectural significance due to its representing the Ottoman urban structure along with Süleymaniye today. There are 150 houses in Zeyrek which are planned to be restored and the initial part of the project involves restoration of 30 houses in the vicinity of Molla Zeyrek Mosque. 

Zeyrek Houses

Another important location of the area is Zeyrekhane, which currently run by a private company. The building faces a broad view of the Golden Horn and offers food and beverage service.
Fener - Balat
Being an important neighborhood in İstanbul’s history, particularly in the history of Turkish Jews, Balat was where Jewish people who ran from the Spanish inquisition in 1492 settled upon permission of Fatih Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. The Ahrida Synagogue, which descended from those times, is located in Balat where currently only little number of Jewish citizens live. Houses of Balat are stone buildings with three floors and exedras by their windows. Although a lot of them are neglected today, they are still intact and currently being restored by the Municipality of Fatih with the support of the European Union. This project also draws attention to Fener and Balat.

Fener-Balat Evleri

The Roman Orthodox Patriarchate, one of the most significant structures of the Christian world, is located in Fener – Balat. The Roman High School, also known as the Red School, is located at a high point of Balat with a nice view of the Golden Horn.
The Surp Hrashdagabeth Gregorian Church is also located in Balat, a mosaic of religions.

Rum Lisesi (Kırmızı Mektep)