Start your day of exploration with a visit to Ortakoy where in 1492 Sephardic Jews arrived to set foot on Ottoman lands escaping from Spanish Inquisition. Today’s Ortakoy is a lively district where locals go for pleasurable time spent at fish restaurants.
Leaving Ortakoy, you will head on to Balat, the oldest Jewish neighborhood of Istanbul. One can see few synagogues in this fascinating location where Muslims and Jewish community lived in harmony to constitute the Ottoman society. You can even see Star of David carved in some balconies to verify the fact how free the Jews were during Ottoman era.
Visit the Ahrida Synagogue that is famed for its bema and meet Lady Caroline to hear interesting stories about the local community. Ahrida is the oldest Synagogue of Istanbul having an age of 500 years. Built by early Balkanian Jewish community that migrated to Istanbul, the temple is famed for its bema that is supposed to resemble the Ark of Noah.
Note the apartment buildings that are ornamented with David's star which manifest the pride that Istanbul Jewish citizens took during Ottoman rule. Your next stop will be the biggest of Jewish Synagogues of Istanbul, Neve Shalom, where the Jewish society of Istanbul holds their important gatherings.
After visiting Neve Shalom Synagogue, you will explore the Zulfaris Synagogue, now a Jewish museum displaying the history and culture of the Sephardic Jews migrated to the Ottoman Empire. You will explore how the two cultures influenced by each other throughout the centuries.
Leaving the Zulfaris Synagogue, you will visit the Grand Bazaar where the Genoese and Venitian merchants once had their ware houses where they store their inventory of brass, copper, rugs and tiles before they were loaded on the ships to sail to Venice and Genoa. Today Nuru Osmaniye District is where you can find the most reputable stores with wide collections of jewelry, antiques and oriental rugs.
Departures: 09:00 AM,
Meeting instructions: Specific pick up or taxi instructions will appear on your voucher after you purchase your trip.
Special instructions: - The price of this tour includes a driver and air-conditioned vehicle, all transportation costs, and an English-speaking guide. The entrance fee to Zulfaris Museum is included. Ahrida and Neve Shalom synagogues do not request entrance fees from visitors.
- The cost of lunch and drinks is not included.
- Please wear comfortable walking shoes (for both comfort and protection against risks of sliding), a hat, and sunscreen. Feel free to wear shorts and T-shirts both in Istanbul and the rest of Turkey.