Just One More Reason

The new Balat House of Culture is just another reason to go to this historic settlement on the Golden Horn.

If you live in Istanbul and are a photography buff of sorts, then Balat is the place for you. Every teacher of every class and every course of every school brings her students here at least once. To this neighborhood where you can capture, unabashed, kids chasing a ball, old women cracking pumpkins seeds in doorways, and young girls leaning out of windows to hang laundry. No one will object, indeed they will smile for the camera. And if you go at evening when the sun is setting, oh how fetchingly the light falls on these narrow old streets… You can always go back again tomorrow, even if you don’t have a class.
Set between Fener and Ayvansaray on the banks of the Golden Horn, Balat was until recently a quarter abandoned to its fate. Thanks to restoration work in recent years, it has now opened its doors to several art and culture venues. One of them is the Balat House of Culture, which opened last month. Brought into being by the Federation of Soroptimist Clubs of Turkey, Istanbul Province, the General Secretariat of the Istanbul Special Provincial Administration, and Fatih Municipality the venue offers numerous events as well as applied educational services to residents and visitors alike.

Where documents talk!

The bills, receipts, tickets, labels, stamps and envelopes that seem so mundane to us today are transformed over the years into historical documents, each one a witness to its time.
There is hardly anyone who is unaware of the open auctions held in posh hotel ballrooms where astronomical figures are bandied about. But there are other auctions as well where valuable paintings, calligraphy and decorative objects are on offer. These are the book and ephemera auctions. Usually held on weekends in the city’s arcades and secondhand bookshops, these auctions offer wares of interest to more modest budgets.

Arcades and Commercial Buildings

A wide range of items from postcards, documents and old or secondhand books to posters, labels, boxes, and perfume and medicine bottles find buyers at these auctions, which are concentrated in the districts of Taksim, Kadıköy and Nişantaşı. Kadıköy’s Kafkas and Akmar Arcades, Aslıhan Pasajı on İstiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu, and the Rumeli and Hak Arcades in Nişantaşı are the focal points for book and ephemera auctions. Several bookshops also have showrooms where books are auctioned on a regular basis. Not only can you buy whatever strikes your fancy, if you like you can also unload things you happen to have lying about at home.