Sunday, November 8, 2015

From Kariye to Balat

Untitled - watercolour on 450gm paper

Balat is an amazing part of the city.

For those of you unfamiliar with the city of Istanbul, in the northern corner of the old city right next to the ancient walls there are the remains of one of the last secular Byzantine buildings still in existence. It's the old palace of the failing dynasty finally defeated by the Turks in 1453. Apparently over the centuries it has been used amongst other things as a zoo and a brothel although now it is being restored.

As one walks from that corner through the steeply winding cobbled streets between narrow houses punctuated with old crumbling ruins and mosques one walks through the district of Balat.

This area has been the haunt of Armenians, Jews and Greeks for centuries. One wonders if it is becoming gentrified by those wise enough to recognise the romantic quality of this quarter of the city.

Despite this there remains a surprising number of crumbling old Ottoman style wooden houses. Every now and again one can see what looks suspiciously like a Byzantine church disguised as a mosque or some abandoned orthodox church hidden behind over-grown trees and ivy.

Recently whist doing this walk we ended up at the  Zeyrek Mosque (Pantokrator Monastery 12th century) which is being restored and where a wonderful view point has been constructed. It overlooks a breathtaking 180 degree vista of the city from the tower blocks of Maslak to the minarets of the Blue Mosque.

As for the painting - Balat inspired pile of scaffolding poles.





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