Jewish heritage of Istanbul

The Sephardic emigration to the Ottoman Empire begins in a massive way with the expulsion of the Jewish population from the Iberian Peninsula by the Catholic Monarchs, in 1492. There they founded four large communities and thanks to their educational level and business skills, In general, they achieved a high standard of living and some even occupied high positions and conquered privileges. The Hispanic Hebrews maintained close relations with the Ottoman high spheres and it is known that some sultans included in their harem Sephardic women. Through the excursion we propose, you will get to know the most important sites of Sephardic history in Istanbul.

We started the tour through the Galata area, inhabited mostly by the Sephardic Jews at the beginning of the twentieth century and continue to the famous Neve Shalom and Ashkenazi synagogues. Then, we go to the Golden Horn, to attend the synagogue of Ahrida, fifteenth century.

You can also visit the Jewish Hospital of Or-Ahayim (if you want the kosher lunch served there, you need advance notice) and then visit the Jewish Museum in Istanbul, where there is an exhibition of the Sephardic Jews in Turkey (free lunch) ).

The last stop will be in the synagogue of Etz-Ahayim, in Ortaköy, the first point of disembarkation of the Sephardim, upon their arrival in the Ottoman Empire.

Important: Regarding the access to the institutions and synagogues we will try to arrange the corresponding interviews but we can not guarantee it since it depends on the decision of the authorities of these places. To apply for permits, full names and passport copies are required, with a 7-day advance notice.