Although there are only
approximately 26,000 Jews living in Istanbul these days, Jews have been known
to come and go in this city since antiquity. Istanbul is waiting for you to
discover its marvelous facets of incredibly diverse population.
The Spanish Jews who had
settled in Turkish community in 1492 were forbidden from moving around unless
they converted to Christianity, if not they must flee the country. However,
with their great understanding of science and economic knowledge, the Ottoman
Sultan at that time allowed them to live on the banks of Golden Horn.
In the 19th
Century, the Russian Jews facing the anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire
were seeking help and refuge in Turkey, as well as the Bolshevik Revolution in
1971. In 1933, those famous scientists under Nazis threat were invited by the
Turkish war hero, Ataturk to find safe shelter in Turkey. However, there
happened to be some incidences that caused the Jews to leave Istanbul. One was
the wealth tax that initially targeted the rich Turks, but it has resulted in
causing about 30,000 Jews to flee Istanbul. Then there was the Istanbul Pogrom
in 1955 against Greek minorities. Even though the death toll was pretty low (37
Greeks died), it had resulted in the flight and emigation of Greek community
and other minorities including the Jews.
Our tour of Jewish
Istanbul will focus on the neighborhoods of the “outsiders” populations of the
non-Muslim communities, Galata and Pera, along with the traditions and life
style of the original Jews of Istanbul—the Karaite community. We will
find out about the expulsion of Jews from Spain which is supposed to be one of
the largest diasporas of Jews in European history.
Galata was where the rich
and important families used to live. It is the center of Jewish-controlled
Ottoman finance. You can still see traces of their glorious days by just
observing the details in the buildings. We will then
visit one or two of
the still-functioning synagogues in Galata, the Neve Shalom and the Italian
Synagogue. The museum of Jewish history is also a must-visit as it provides
excellent documentary reference for Jewish history in Istanbul.
This is a
really great trip for those who are interested in learning the complicated
history of Jews in Istanbul, from periods of thriving integration and prosperity
to episodes of discrimination and antisemitism.
Note: Because this walk is
only available as a private walk, thus, preparation must be made at least two
weeks or several weeks prior to the booking. The scans of your passport will be
provided to the staff in advance in order to gain access to the monuments along
the course of the walk.
Lunch is not included in the cost of the tour. We will suggest options for local Turkish restaurants and provide ample time for you to have a sit-down lunch.
- Port pick-up and drop-off
- Entrance fees as per itinerary
- Luxury air-con coach
- Licensed tour guide
- Drinking water in vehicle
- Lunch and beverages
- Entrance fees to the Terrace Houses $15 extra (optional)
- Gratuities (optional)
This tour requires a bit of walking and we suggest you wear comfortable shoes or sandals. As it can be very hot in summer months, please bring sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and any other necessary sun gear with you.
For optional mosque visits you need to bring a sarong to cover legs and a head scarf for women.