Why Everyone falls in love with Fener / Balat!
Selin & Okan Demir, Sea Architects
Perhaps it is the affinity we have for the little toys’ dollhouses or model trains. That’s what it reminds me when I stroll around the neighborhood.
Small houses that would barely fit a millennial couple in all three levels, from days gone when it was deemed a manor of a well to do Greek merchant family, little kids running around like a modern-day Baker street irregular, it’s a compact gem of an island surrounded by this beast of a city. Perhaps it’s a model version of Istanbul itself, charming you with quality rather than quantity. It is this aspect that’s has saved this neighborhood from big chain hotels or large-scale development.
When me and wife moved our office this little doll houses, we were serendipitously surprised by another aspect of Fener; not just houses but way of life. It’s still perched in an eerie Victorian pace. It fills you with joy or nostalgia. (I personally feel a sense of saudade). Just stroll around and enjoy Fantastic Golden Horn views. And just ponder on whatever here makes you feel.
My mother in-law said here she went back to her college days back in 70s! Here is the cat cafe before there was cat cafes. Here they’re the judge juror the prosecutor. They demand affection where they want when they want.” 🙂
A cooking magazine office turned cafe I enjoy the new energy and modernity it brings to Fener. They combined the local vibe with mean coffee and perfect amount of Brooklyn/Shoreditch. Have breakfast there trust me!
Perfect pizza a la Phanar. It’s lovely to see your pizza or pide prepared and cooked as you watch it while you’re feeling that this hole in wall is the way neighborhood lunch places should be.
Very cool meyhane by the Golden Horn. The ideal fit not the shabby not too chic with mean mezes in the menu.
Fener Greek Highschool:
Nothing hidden a magnificent crimson brick marvel piece. Just walk up from Fener square and be mesmerized.
Built from precast iron pieces in Vienna and shipped to a regal shore in golden via Danube barges. This church is an architectural gem. Its recently renovated and makes sure you circle around the church before you see inside.
Vintage Antique Shopping:
This is one of the centers of vintage/ antique hunting in Istanbul just walk from Fener to Balat and join the hotly contested auctions happening here every hour every day. From daily trinkets with zero starting bids. Or have patience like me and you might stumble upon a real 19th century masterpiece! And take your time wandering around the old Jewish bazaar (çifit carsisi) and observe a true local mercantile hustle n bustle.