Jewish Sites in Istanbul, Turkey

Last Updated on May 1, 2019

Istanbul has had a vibrant Jewish community for more than 1000 years.

After the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmet II (“the Conqueror,” 1451-1481) encouraged immigration to repopulate the city. Jewish communities were invited to take up residence at Hasköy, on the eastern bank of the Golden Horn.

Under Sultan Beyazit II (1481-1512), Jews persecuted in Spain and Portugal were encouraged to establish themselves in the Ottoman Empire. In Istanbul the new immigrants settled mostly near the Balat quarter on the western bank of the Golden Horn where a Jewish community had existed since Byzantine times. Jews also settled in villages along the western shore of the Bosphorus.

You must make arrangements with the Chief Rabbinate for access to these Jewish-interest sites. Admission is by prior arrangement only. More…


The area around the Galata Tower in Beyoglu is of prime interest to visitors touring the Jewish interest sites. The Galataneighborhood has bustling street life, the numerous synagogues have great historical and artistic value, and all sites are within easy walking distance of one another. More…


Balat is another of the quarters in which Jews were settled after their expulsion from Spain, enlarging a community which had lived here since Byzantine times. The Ahrida Synagoguehas been beautifully restored. More…


Hasköy has the Jewish Home for the Aged, the Kamondo mansion, a large Jewish cemetery which includes the Kamondo mausoleum, and the imperial Ottoman pavilion called the Aynalıkavak KasrıMore…


Şişli (SHEESH-lee) is a prosperous residential and commercial district 2-1/2 km north of Taksim Square. Two Jewish interest sites, the Şişli Beth Israel Synagogue and the Italian Jewish Cemetery, are worth visiting. More…


Though Ortaköy‘s Jewish orphanage is gone and the historic Etz Ahayim Synagogue building burnt in 1941, there is still a synagogue here, and many other historic Ottoman sites in the vicinity. More…


Haydarpasa‘s Hemdat Israel Synagogue is among the city’s most beautiful, and is certainly the most interesting Jewish site on the eastern shore of the BosphorusMore…


Kuzguncuk once had a large and active Jewish community, but there are few Jewish residents today. Its synagogues are heavily used only on holidays and special occasions, though they are customarily open for worship on Shabbat. More…

Princes Islands

Jewish community life on the Princes Islands (Adalar) is limited to summertime, when synagogues on BüyükadaHeybeliada and Burgaz Adası are open on Shabbat. An outing to the Princes’ Islands is a pleasant excursion with minor Jewish interest.

Other Istanbul Sights

Walking Tour of Jewish Sites

Chief Rabbinate Website

Istanbul Hotels

Istanbul Restaurants





Other Sites in Turkey

All Jewish Sites in Turkey

Special Interest Trips

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