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.