Roman times, Izmir (Smyrna)
had a thriving Jewish community.
were once nine synagogues in use
along Havra Sokak (Synagogue
Street) in Izmir's bazaar; three
are still in service. As in Istanbul,
this city's Jewish community has
largely moved to the more desirable
residential quarters. The Karatas
Synagogue and modern Alsancak
Synagogue demonstrate this trend.
historical heart of Izmir's Jewish
life was in the synagogues of "La
Judiera," the area of the
bazaar where the synagogues are located
and where some Jewish merchants still
work. La Judiera is near the intersection
of Gazi Osman Pasa Bulvari and Anafartalar
Caddesi, a short walk from the
intersection of Fevzipasa Bulvari
and Gaziosmanpasa Bulvari, known
as Çankaya. The best time
to visit the synagogues here is on Saturday
morning, when all are open for
worship (two of the three are closed
during the week).
walk south on Gaziosmanpasa Bulvari/Esrefpasa
Caddesi to Anafartalar Caddesi and
turn right (west; the turn is just
past the Kiraz Is Hani at no. 88).
Follow Anafartalar Caddesi 50 meters
into the bazaar, bearing left at
the first "Y", then turning
left on the second little street
on the left, which is 927 Sokak.
to See in the Bazaar
officially named 927 Sokak,
this used to be known as Havra
Sokak, the "Street of Synagogues," because
of its nine small, active synagogues
which served the Jewish merchants
and artisans who worked close by.
Today three of these historic synagogues
are still in use.
along Havra Sokak is the Seniyora
Synagogue, at 927 Sokak no. 77.
It may take its name from Doña
Gracia Nasi, Duke Joseph Nasi's
mother-in-law and aunt, who was known
as La Señora, and who
endowed many synagogues in the Ottoman
Seniyora is the most active
of the remaining synagogues on
Havra Sokak, open every morning.
It's a simple but pleasant and
interesting building, almost two
centuries old, with obvious historic
building to the left of the Seniyora's
doorway (as you face it) was once
a synagogue, but the space is now
occupied by a wholesale poultry business.
along Havra Sokak is the Kadosh
Mizrahi Synagogue, 927 Sokak
no. 73, open only on Saturday morning.
short distance farther along is the Shalom
(Aydin) Synagogue, 927 Sokak
no. 38-C, reached through a short
passageway used as storage for a
shoe shop. Because of this use, the
synagogue's steel outer door is often
open during shopping hours, allowing
visitors at least to take a look
through the synagogue's glass doors,
even if the synagogue is locked.
The Shalom, like the Kadosh Mizrahi,
is normally open only on Saturday
modern quarter of Alsancak is among
Izmir's most prestigious addresses.
The Musta Bey Synagogue is
a new building constructed to serve
those who now live in this fashionable
neighborhood north of the Izmir International
neighborhood one kilometer southwest
of Konak Square holds several interesting
sites, among them the Beth Israel
Synagogue, Beth Shalom Social
Club, Karatas Hospital and
access is provided by Mithatpasa
Bulvari, the main coastal boulevard
going southwest. Karatas Beth Israel
Synagogue and the Asansör are
only about 100 meters (110 yards)
apart, a short, easy walk.
to See in Karatas
Israel Synagogue, Mithatpasa
Bulvari no. 245, is a handsome
Ottoman Victorian-style building
dating from the turn of the century.
visiting the synagogue, walk one
block inland and around the rear
of the synagogue, turning left. About
a hundred meters along this street
is the Asansör, a nineteenth-century
funicular which once took passengers
from the shore road up the sheer
rock cliffs to the desirable residential
district above. Inscriptions above
the door in French and Hebrew declare
that the elevator was constructed
by Nissim Bey.
and Ethnographic Museums, between
Karatas and Konak, Izmir's
main square, are worth a visit
if time allows, as is a drive up
to Kadifekale, overlooking
the city and the bay. Tea houses
here can provide refreshments.
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