Istanbul's Jewish Heritage
(Prices are per person and in USD)
Note: Minimum three days' advance reservation is needed, as special permission is required at some sites; Danytur will ask for extra copies of the participant’s passport to obtain permission(s). Due to possible increased security, some sites may be closed to the public on the day of the visit.
Included visits: Galata Tower, Neve Shalom Synagogue, Kamondo Staircase, Zulfaris Synagogue, Ahrida Synagogue, Yanbol Synagogue, Etz Ahayim Synagogue
Duration: 8 Hours
Our tour begins in the Galata quarter of Istanbul. The history of a Jewish presence here began in Byzantine times when it was a separate walled city. At the heart of the district is the Galata Tower, built in 1348 and a prominent feature of the Istanbul skyline. Originally, the Tower was the largest of a series of fortifications built by the Genoese to protect the city of Galata; itlater served as a fire lookout tower.
From Galata Tower, we will walk to the nearby Neve Shalom Synagogue, inaugurated in 1951 and is now the largest synagogue in Istanbul. Before leaving Galata, we also will see a graceful curved double staircase, known as Kamondo Staircase, built in the Art Nouveau style. The staircase was commissioned in the 19th century by the Kamondos, a prosperous banking family.
Our final stop is the Zulfaris Synagogue, restored to house the Jewish Museum. Although the museum itself is small, it features an interesting selection of memorabilia and personal effects.
After a short drive across the Golden Horn, we reach Balat, once a strong Sephardic Jewish settlement, and once home to 19 synagogues. Today,only two of significant importance remain: Ahrida Synagogue and its neighbor, Yanbol Synagogue.
From Balat, we drive to our final stop in Ortakoy, where the Ottoman Sultan Beyazit II welcomed the first Sephardim from Spain. We will also see the nearby Etz Ahayim Synagogue, also known as the Ortakoy Synagogue.
This private tour includes: