A hope given to Jews by Sultan Bayazid II – Private Tour Guide Istanbul
Get the taste of the Jewish culture in the history mosaic of the city with the help of private tour guide Istanbul. In 1492 the Ottoman Empire opened its borders to Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Many of them settled down in the neighbourhood of Galata where there is a watch-tower built in the 14th century by Genovese, offering a great 360 view of the city. Continue to Neve Shalom Synagogue and then visit the Jewish Museum of Zulfaris Synagogue, run by Quincentennial Foundation.
After lunch, we go to Balat district along the Golden Horn, another old Jewish district where we’ll visit the Ahrida Synagogue built over 500 years ago and still in use today. After walking around this old neighbourhood where the Star of David appears on some of the buildings, we might finish the day having a Turkish coffee on Pierre Loti hill with the great view of old Istanbul. Please, note that this tour requires special permissions for synagogue visits for which we should apply at least a day in advance. This tour is not available on Saturdays or during Jewish religious holidays.
There are currently 26 active synagogues in Istanbul. Instead of listing them all, I decided to give an overview of the most notable ones for the daily Istanbul tours.
Neve Shalom Synagogue – located in Karakoy, is the central and largest Sephardic synagogue in Istanbul. It was inaugurated on Sunday March 25, 1951 and is open to service (see details on their website). Unfortunately, Neve Shalom has been the target of three terrorist attacks.
Ahrida Synagogue – one of the two remaining synagogues in Balat. It is the oldest and probably most beautiful synagogue in Istanbul. It was founded before the Muslim conquest of Istanbul in 1453 and has been in constant use ever since. Tourists can only visit by prior arrangement with a private tour guide Istanbul.
Ashkenazi Synagogue – located near the Galata Tower, is the only currently active synagogue in Istanbul open to visits and prayers.
Bet Avraam Synagogue – located behind the Sirkeci train station, it is the synagogue nearest to Sultanahmet.
Bet Israel Synagogue – located in Sisli, is currently the most populated synagogue in Turkey. The synagogue can be visited after making appointments with Neve Shalom Foundation.
Caddebostan Synagogue – built in 1953 as a result of the increasing Jewish population in the Kadikoy district. It is the most populated synagogue on the Asian side of Istanbul.
Visitors can learn with private tour guide Istanbul about the synagogues.