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Jewish Heritage


Jewish Heritage






Explore the long and fascinating history of the Jews in Turkey through visits to historic synagogues and the Jewish Museum of Turkey.

The history of the Jews in Anatolia can be dated back at least to the 4th century BC when Jews lived and traded in the ancient cities of Ephesus, Sardis, Pergamon, and Smyrna. From the early 13th century, the Ottomans actively encouraged Jewish immigration and by 1477 Jews accounted for 11% of the population. During the tragic days of World War II, Turkey managed to maintain its neutrality and served as a safe passage for many Jews fleeing the rest of Europe.

On this full-day private tour with your own professionally trained guide you will:

Drive to Ortakoy, a cosmopolitan and lively area which is home to communities of Turks, Greeks, and Armenians and many different religions including Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox, and Christianity.

Visit the Etz-Ahayim (Tree of Life) Synagogue.  This historic synagogue has a long history, and was rebuilt in 1825 after the original was destroyed by fire. When the synagogue burned down again in 1941, only the marble Aron-ha-Kodesh remained. The current synagogue is built on the location of the previous site. You will have some free time in this beautiful area before you continue.

Drive to Galata to visit the Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace) Synagogue. When the Jewish population in the old Pera and Galata districts grew in the late 1930s, a Jewish primary school was torn down in order to build a new synagogue.  Inaugurated in 1951, Neve Shalom is the central and largest Sephardic synagogue in Istanbul.

Stop at Levi Kosher Restaurant at Eminonu for lunch, or one of the other nearby restaurants if you prefer (not included).

Drive to the Jewish Museum of Turkey (Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews). The museum's mission is to collect, preserve, exhibit, interpret and disseminate knowledge about the cultural heritage of the Turkish Jews. You will also have time to browse in the library where there are many interesting books relating to Jewish heritage in Turkey.