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Turkey – Istanbul Jewish Heritage Tour

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From$299
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From$299
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5235
8 Hours
Availability : Jan 19’ - Dec 19’
Min Age : All Ages
Max People : 15
Overview

Jewish community have lived in the geographic area of Asia Minor for more than 2,400 years. In the later Middle Ages, Ashkenazi Jews migrating to the Byzantine Empire and Ottoman Empire supplemented the original Jewish population of Asia Minor. At the end of the 15th century, a large number of Sephardic Jews fleeing persecution in Spain and Portugal settled in Asia Minor on the invitation of the Ottoman Empire.

Despite emigration during the 20th century, modern day Turkey continues a Jewish population.The present size of the Jewish Community is estimated at around 26,000 according to the Jewish Virtual Library. The vast majority live inIstanbul, with a community of about 2,500 in İzmir and other smaller groups located in the rest of Turkey.

Sephardic Jews make up approximately 96% of Turkey’s Jewish population, while the rest are primarily Ashkenazic.Turkish Jews are still legally represented by the Hahambasi, the Chief Rabbi. Rav Izak Haleva, is assisted by a religious Council made up of a Rosh Bet Din and three Hahamim. Thirty-five Lay Counselors look after the secular affairs of the Community and an Executive Committee of fourteen, the president of which must be elected from among the Lay Counselors, runs the daily affairs.

Highlights
  • Galata Tower
  • Jewish Museum of Turkey
  • Neve Shalom Synagogue
  • Zulfaris Synagogue
  • Ahrida Synagogue
  • Byzantine Hippodrome
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Spice Market
Itinerary
Day 1 - Istanbul
Price Includes
Price Excludes

English-speaking, professional tour guide and your AC deluxe vehicle will meet you at the your hotel.

Experience Jewish Istanbul today:  Begin your tour of Sephardic history at the Galata Quarter, a region which had been almost completely Jewish for more than 400 years. Today, Galata is known throughout the world by its huge tower, built in 1303 by the Genovese.  Visit the Galata Tower. 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 Neve Shalom Synagogue (we need your full name, birthday and passport number in order to get the special permission for visiting the Synagogues in Istanbul), used for most of the community functions today, as well as the Ashkenazy Synagogue dating from the nineteenth century and the only Ashkenazy synagogue in Istanbul, originally built by the Austrian Jews.  Stop at the Zulfaris Synagogue, which now also serves as the Museum of Turkish Jewish Museum since 2001.  Its name comes from the street where it is located, which was called Zulf-u arus (present day Percemli Sokak) in Karakoy, which means “bridal curls” in both versions, as it was here that the brides, over the centuries, would walk by to go to the synagogue to get married.

Lunch at a local restaurant.

Drive to Balat, a Jewish working-class district on the shores of the Golden Horn, which absorbed most of the settlers in the fifteenth century from Spain.  Visit the recently restored Abrida (Achrida) Synagogue, originally built in the 15thcentury and is the earliest synagogue in Istanbul.  The original 20-foot long oak bimah (teva), shaped either like Noah’s Ark or, like the Ottoman ship which brought the Sephardim to freedom from Spain to Turkey, can still be seen.  Then visit the Jewish Cemetery. Back to your hotel.

  • Professional Licensed Tour Guide
  • Entrance Fees
  • All Transportation Services
  • Service Charges & Taxes
  • All Meals in Itinerary

  • Private Expenses
  • Tips and Gratuities

Map

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