Istanbul, Turkey
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clock-o4 hours (Approx.)
TransportHotel pickup offered
ticket-oMobile ticket
commentOffered in: English

Overview

Uncover the rich history of Jewish culture during this privately guided tour in Istanbul. Explore old Jewish synagogues such as the Etz Ahayim Synagogue and Ashkenazi Synagogue and learn about Istanbul’s vast Jewish heritage. Enjoy visits to famous sites like Galata Tower and the Jewish Museum of Turkey (referred to as the Zülfaris Synagogue) to grasp the depth of Jewish people’s history from ancient times through Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires to present day.
  • 4-hour private tour of Istanbul’s Jewish sites
  • Learn about the centuries-old history and culture of Istanbul’s Jewish community
  • Admire the Galata Tower, one of the city's most striking landmarks
  • Visit two prominent synagogues, Ashkenazi Synagogue and Etz Ahayim Synagogue
  • Gain a deeper understanding of Jewish and Muslim coexistence at the Jewish Museum of Turkey
Start your privately guided tour of Istanbul’s Jewish history with a pickup from your centrally located hotel in Istanbul. Board your vehicle and cruise to the old Jewish neighborhood of Galata and learn how the fourth crusade captured and demolished the area in the year 1203. Then, admire the elegance of the Galata Tower. Hear how this famous Istanbul monument and vantage point was constructed in the 14th century as part of colonial expansion into Constantinople by the Genoese.
Next, walk over to the Ashkenaz Synagogue, currently the only active synagoue of it kind in Istanbul. Learn about the Austrian Jews who established it in 1900 for the Ashkenazi Jewish sect. Today the synagogue still celebrates bar mitzvahs, weddings, other religious ceremonies and is available to visitors and those who wish to pray.
With your expert guide continue through the Beyoğlu neighborhood to the Jewish Museum of Turkey formerly known as the Zülfaris Synagogue. Learn how this 19th century religious building was renovated and rebuilt as a musuem in 2001 to honor the 500th anniversary of Sephardic Jews coming to the Ottoman Empire. Enter the museum and see how Jewish culture and tradition coalesced with Turkish history. Plus, learn how Muslims and Jews lived with one another and see a display that explains the successful Jewish quest from Spain to Turkey.
Finally, visit Etz Ahayim Synagogue also referred to as the Ortaköy Synagogue. Located in the Beşiktaş district in the neighborhood of Ortaköy, gain insight into how various ethnicities and religions such as Greeks, Turks, Armenians and Jews were all able to live together in harmony during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Even in present day this neighborhood is a perfect example of how colors and creeds can live in peace.
In the afternoon, leave Ortaköy with new knowledge of Jewish history in Turkey and head back to your hotel where your tour concludes.

Reviews

Viator Traveller's Reviews

4.0
20 reviews
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D
, Oct 2015

This tour was so fantastic! From meeting us in a huge gold mini van at the port where our cruise ended, to bringing us to our hotel afterwards, it was luxurious and showed great hospitality. Our guide had arranged for us in advance to visit inside two synagogues and with all the security it is clear we could not have done this on our own. She knew quite a lot about the history of Jews in the Ottoman Empire and had spent a few months on a kibbutz in Israel. She knew her stuff. We started with a visit to Galata tower, which was beyond what was advertised. That gave us a terrific orientation to Istanbul. We saw five synagogues all together in real working class neighborhoods, and we felt like the only tourists on the street. It was so special! We stopped for coffee in a neighborhood shop that had so much character. It was really a remarkable experience, worth very penny!

M
, Jul 2015

Tour interesting. Guide knew his history of Istanbul. Knew a lot about the synagogues etc, but was not Jewish so perhaps we missed some of what life inTurkey was like before and after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

B
, Sep 2014

we did a Jewish heritage tour.
we visited a couple of synagogues and the Jewish Museum, which were interesting
we did not get many details about the history of the Jews in Istanbul or Turkey, how or where they live now, their contribution to the current community, how many Jews live in Istanbul.
thus I was very disappointed with the tour

E
, Aug 2014

The half day tour could have been completed in 2 hours. Two synagogues..... Synagogues actually charged us to go in rather than wait for tzeduka. I was very surprised. Perhaps the Jewish museum could have been added to the tour, or another synagogue?

j
, Jul 2014

Very interesting and we enjoyed it a lot. It would have been even better if the guide was Jewish or knew more personally about the Jewish community, past and present, but he still did a very good job. It was great having an air conditioned car to take us around.

p
, Jun 2014

if seeing some synagogues is the only way to go then this is the trip for you. Not exceptionally exciting but we enjoyed the tours of the 3 synagogues.

l
, May 2014

Very well organised and will recommend your company to anyone who is thinking of going on a guided tour
The guide and driver were first class. Lawrence kraft

m
, Apr 2014

Very interesting tour. Guide excellent. Highly recommended

J
, Apr 2014

Our guide was brilliant, and the driver was polite and efficient. We could not have asked for a better introduction to Istanbul's Jewish Quarter. We loved Istanbul and are hoping to return again soon.

E
, Feb 2014

Wonderful tour guide, would definitely recommend her to other tourists. We got done a bit early, so she took us around a small market and towards the water.


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