Friday, June 20, 2008

Balat, Istanbul

ruined house, originally uploaded by - di.

After visiting Suleymaniye Mosque, the most important mosque in the city and presently undergoing reconstruction work, we wandered down through back streets to Balat.

For centuries after the Muslim conquest, Jews and Christians made up 40% of Istanbul's population. Balat was home to Greek-speaking Jews from the Byzantine era on, with Sephardic Jews coming from Spain in the 15th century.

These days UNESCO is protecting Balat, hoping to make time stand still. Walking there, it felt like they had succeeded. Apparently artists and others are moving in, I hope they're going there to maintain what is there.

Anyway, I was glad to be there when we were. Thanks to Lisen for taking us there.

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