Jewish heritage in Turkey

The Jewish people have deep historical ties to Anatolia. Remains of Jewish settlements in ancient cities along the shores of the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Seas, like Sardis, date back to the 4th century BC. A bronze column found in Ankara shows the rights granted to the Jews by Emperor Augustus. During its rule, the Ottoman Empire became a place of welcome for Jews. In the early 14th century, numerous Jews expelled from Western Europe settled in Ottoman territory.

Istanbul has had a vibrant Jewish community for over 1,000 years, and there are several synagogues on the Asian and European side of the city.

Neva Shalom Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Turkey. Apart from Neva Shalom, the Ahrid Synagogue and the Yanbol Synagogue in Balat, the Ashkenazi Synagogue in Karaköy and the Etz Ahayim Synagogue in Ortaköy are the most visited synagogues in Istanbul.

İzmir (Smyrna)

Izmir’s Jewish heritage shows a unique character with a Sephardic tradition and architectural styles of synagogues that drew inspiration from medieval Spain.

The Sephardic synagogues in Kemeralti are Bikur Holim, Beth Hillel, Seniora, Shalom, Algazi Synagogues and Beth Israel in Karatash.

The Bergamo Synagogue, the recently renovated Yabets Synagogue in Bergamo (Pergamon), was re-dedicated to the ceremony in the spring of 2014 to be used as a cultural center. The synagogue is believed to have been built in the second half of the 19th century. It was abandoned after severe damage in a fire in the 1940s that caused the roof to collapse.

The Sardinian Synagogue, a monumental synagogue, was the center of Jewish religious life in Sardis, in ancient Lydia, during the late Roman period. The synagogue occupied the corner of the Roman bath-gymnasium, turning part of this public building into a Jewish place of worship. Most of today's ruins date from the 4th and 5th centuries.

• Neve Shalom, İstanbul

• Ahrida Synagogue, İstanbul

• Yanbol Synagogue, İstanbul

• Ashkenazi Synagogue, İstanbul

• Etz Ahayim Synagogue, İstanbul

• Grand Synagogue, Edirne

• Gerush Synagogue, Bursa

• Mayor Synagogue, Bursa

• Etz Ahayim Synagogue, Bursa

• Bikur Holim, İzmir

• Beth Hillel, İzmir

• Seniora Synagogue, İzmir

• Shalom Synagogue, İzmir

• Algazi Synagogue, İzmir

• Beth Israel Synagogue, İzmir

• Bergama Synagogue

• Sardes Synagogue, Salihli, Manisa



Flight to Izmir. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight İzmir


After breakfast departure to Sardis, the capital of ancient Lydia. We will look at the significant ruins of the Acropolis. We will visit the temple of Cybele and Diana, which later became a church. Then the golden river Pactalos and the Royal Road. We will then visit the restored synagogue, look at the names of wealthy American Jewish families who financially supported the excavations. This synagogue is considered to be the largest ancient synagogue outside of Israel.

Return to Izmir where we will visit some synagogues in the city such as Beth Israel, Bikur Holim, Algazi, Senora Synagogue and Havre Sokak (Street Synagogue) Overnight in Izmir.


A full day tour of the ancient city of Ephesus. Visit the Celsus Library with the inscription of the menorah, the marble-paved Arcadia Road, the Roman Baths, the Grand Theater. Possibility of lunch and shopping in Ephesus.

Return to Izmir Airport.

Evening Flight İzmir-İstanbul. Overnight in Istanbul


Experience the Jewish Heritage Tour in Istanbul:

 Drive to Balat, a Jewish working-class neighborhood on the shores of the Golden Horn, which absorbed most of the fifteenth-century settlers from Spain. Visit the recently renovated Abrida Synagogue (we need your full name, birthday and passport number to get special permission to visit synagogues in Istanbul), originally built in the 15th century and the earliest synagogue in Istanbul. (teva) 20 meters long, shaped either like Noah’s ark, or like an Ottoman ship that brought the Sephardim freedom from Spain to Turkey, can still be seen.

Then continue to Galata County. Start your tour of Sephardic history in the Galata district, a region that has been almost entirely Jewish for more than 400 years. Today, Galata is known all over the world for the tower built by the Genoese in 1348. The office of the Chief Rabbinate is also located in Galata. Today, there are 16 synagogues in Istanbul that are still in use. First visit the Neva Shalom Synagogue, which is used today for most community functions, and visit the Quintcentenial Foundation Jewish Museum, which was recently located near the synagogue. A walk to the nineteenth-century Ashkenazy Synagogue and the only Ashkenazy Synagogue in Istanbul, originally built by Austrian Jews. After visiting the synagogue free time for lunch, a walk to the Schneidertempel art gallery (depending on the exhibition schedule) and a walk to the Kamondo stairs built in the 19th century. Neo-Baroque and early Art Nouveau styles merged here in the 1870s to create this curved road along one of Istanbul’s steepest hills. Abraham Salomon Camondo, from the wealthy Sephardic Jewish family of Camondo, financed the construction. He inherited the banking and business success of his ancestors and continued to become the chief banker of the Ottoman Empire in Galata district where the stairs are located Overnight in Istanbul


Free time until transfer. You can visit the Jewish cemetery depending on you

Transfer to the airport and flight from Istanbul