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Fish Market (Balık Pazarı)

Fish Market (Balık Pazarı) Review

Located just off İstiklal Caddesi next to the entrance to the Çiçek Pasajı, the Balık Pazarı is a bustling labyrinth of streets filled with stands selling fish, produce, spices, sweets, and souvenirs, and there are a couple of eateries specializing in kokoreç, or grilled lamb intestines: it all makes for great street theater. The adjacent Second Empire–style arcade, known as Çiçek Pasajı, was one of Istanbul's grandest shopping venues when it was built in 1876. In the early 20th century, it was gradually taken over by flower shops run by White Russian émigrés—earning it the name "Flower Arcade." In later decades, the arcade became dominated by famously boisterous meyhanes, or tavernas. The passage reopened in 1988 after a major restoration that rebuilt a collapsed section, and though it's still quite pretty, it feels more than like a reproduction. It now houses about a dozen rather touristy meyhane-style restaurants offering mezes and fish. For a more authentic local vibe, continue toward the end of the Fish Market and turn right on narrow Nevizade Sokak, a lively strip of bars and meyhanes, all with tiny sidewalk tables packed with locals in summer.

Üç Horan Armenian Church. Hidden in plain view on the northern side of the Fish Market's main street is a pair of large black doors (usually open) leading through a courtyard to the Üç Horan Ermeni Kilisesi, or the Armenian Church of Three Altars. Completed after 1870, it is the third church to be built on this site, after fires destroyed the first two. The elegant old church is an unexpected sight amidst the bustle and chaos of the fish market. Balık Pazarı, Sahne Sok. 24. 212/244–1382. Daily 9–4.

Updated: 11-19-2013

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