Jewish Sites in Sisli, Istanbul, Turkey

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

GETTING THERE

Take a taxi, or the Metro from Taksim Square to Sisli Meydani (Sisli Square), then continue northward a few hundred meters (by taxi or on foot) along Abidei Hürriyet Caddesi to the Italian Jewish Cemetery, marked by a monumental gate set above the roadway on the east (right-hand) side.

WHAT TO SEE IN SISLI

Behind the Baroque entrance to the Italian Jewish Cemetery are tombstones engraved with names and epitaphs in Italian, English, French, German, Russian and Latin. (If the gate is not open, look for the caretaker.)

Many famous Istanbullus of the nineteenth century are buried here. The cemetery was founded originally to serve 400 Jewish families who had emigrated from the Crimea to Istanbul in 1854-55, but it was later dedicated to the use of the Italian Jewish Association by order of Sultan Abdulaziz.

The cemetery is well kept by resident custodians, and is still used for burials. It makes an interesting visit, and yields special insight into the history of the city’s Jewish community.

From the cemetery, it’s over one kilometer (a 20- or 25-minute walk) to the Beth Israel Synagogue. The heavy traffic is noisy and chaotic, and you may want to take a taxi.

The synagogue is half-way between Sisli and Harbiye, on a little street two blocks west of Halâskargazi Caddesi.

From the Italian Jewish Cemetery, go south on Abidei Hurriyet Caddesi through Sisli Square, and continue southward along Halâskargazi Caddesi to Rumeli Caddesi, which is a major cross-street, but unmarked by street signs. (Look for a large branch of the Yapi Kredi Bankasi on the southeastern corner; also, the Borsa Lokantasi is on the east side of Halâskargazi Caddesi just north of Rumeli Caddesi.) At Rumeli Caddesi, turn right (west) and go two blocks to Efe Sokak, and turn right again. Beth Israel Synagogue is a few doors down on the right-hand side; look for the police guard’s booth.


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