Historical Synagogues in Turkey

December 7, 2018
Blog

Jewish people have been living in Turkey for thousands of years. Even today, Jewish community have strong presence in major cities like Istanbul, Izmir and Bursa, although the total population is around 27,000. This makes Turkey one of the most interesting countries with so many religion and empires leaving significant impact on the historical richness.

Jewish Synagogues In Turkey

In 70 CE, Roman army invaded Jerusalem and forced Jews out. Some Jews travelled to Spain and established their roots. In 15th century, they were again forced to flew for their lives. When Ottoman Empire heard about this expulsion, they opened the doors of the empire for Jews. Throughout five centuries, Jews enjoyed the safe haven in the Empire and served as an important part of Ottoman economy. This religious freedom allowed them to build many historical structures.

Izmir

This place has symbolic significance as there are clusters of synagogues bearing Spanish architectural style. Some of the synagogues are ancient giving historical architectural complexities to this place. There are many famous synagogues worth visiting in this area. Some of famous ones are Ancient Ephesus, Beth Israel, Hevra and Rosh Ha-Har

Istanbul

Istanbul has the highest percentage of Jewish population in Turkey. Because of this reason you can explore holy synagogues and Jewish Museum of Turkey. It will give you glimpse of the historical presence of Jewish population.

Antalya

Archaeologist excavated two ancient synagogues in Antalya. In 2009, one of the synagogue in the port city was found in Andriake located near Antalya. It was built in the 3rd century after Jews were allowed to become Roman Citizen. You can still find of menorah and other Jewish symbols on this structure. Similarly, another synagogue was discovered in 2012 in the ancient city of Limyra.

Bergama

This synagogue was an active place of worship until the fire broke up. It was built in 19th century but the structure was abandoned after serious fire in 1940s. It was restored after much restoration. The muncipility also worked hard to incorporate the original colours and designs in the synagogue.

Bodrum

Jewish people are present in this region since the arrival of Romaniote Jews during the Byzantine era and through the influx of Sephardic Jews from Iberia. You can find Jewish cemetery which are horizontal slabs in Sephardic manner.

Edirne (Adrianople)

The synagogue replaced 13 synagogues in 1905.  It is one of the largest in Europe and has a capacity of 1200 people till 1983. This synagogue closed down for the worshipper. It reopened in 2015 after $2.5 million restoration process and now it serves as cultural center and place for worship.

Gaziantep

This synagogue dates back to 1920s. Government worked on restoration project and reopened it for tourist and worshipers.

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