The history of the Jews in Turkey goes back to the 4th century BC. Some ancient synagogue ruins have been found in Sardes, nearby Izmir city, dating from 220 BC. Most of the Jews living in Turkey are Sepharadic Jews, whose forbears fled from the inquisition or were expelled from Spain in 1492. These Jews were transported to the Ottoman Empire upon a Royal Decree (ferman) of Sultan Beyazit II by ships. Today, 26.000 Jewish people live in Turkey. The vast majority live in Istanbul, with a community of about 2500 in Izmir, and other small groups located in Adana, Antakya, Iskenderun etc.
Day 1: Arrival in Istanbul
Meet and assist at Istanbul airport. Transfer to the hotel for overnight.
Day 2: Istanbul
Departure from the hotel to visit Galata, a Jewish neighborhood. Visit the Galata Tower, built by the Genoese in 1303. Then visit the Ashkenazi Synagogue built in 1900 and after, the Neve Shalom Synagogue which is the biggest one in Istanbul built in 1951 for the Sepharadic Jews. In the afternoon, visit the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque and St. Sophia. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Istanbul
Departure for a visit to Balat district which has been the earliest neighborhood of the Jews from 1492 and on. Star of David can still be noticed on the facades of some of the buildings. Visit the 15th century Ahrida Synagogue whose teva resembles a bow representing the Ottoman ships sent by Sultan Beyazit II who offered safety for the refugees of the Spanish Inquisition. Continue the tour with Yanbol Synagogue which dates back to the Byzantine Period. In the afternoon, visit Topkapi Palace and theGrand Bazaar. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 4: Istanbul
Today is free for the respect of Shabat Day.
Day 5: Istanbul / Izmir
Transfer to Istanbul airport and fly to Izmir. Jewish community dates back more than 2000 years in Izmir. Visit Beth Israel Synagogue which has a Victorian style architecture. Continue with Senora Synagogue which is a 200 years old once built by the Ottoman diplomat Joseph Nasi for the respect of his aunt Dona Grasia Nasi who was a Spanish immigrant and known by the people as La Senora. Climb up to Mt. Pagus to see the Castle of Alexander the Great and the Agora. Dinner and overnight in Izmir.
Day 6: Izmir (Priene / Miletus / Ephesus)
Early morning departure for visiting two of the ancient Ionian cities, Priene and Miletus. Visit their synagogues and depart forEphesus to see the great theater, agora, baths, the library of Celsus and the Temple of Artemis which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Return to the hotel in Izmir for dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Izmir (Sardes)
Departure for Sardes, the capital of Lidia. Visit the oldest synagogue there dating from the 3rd century BC. It was found during the excavations in 1962. This synagogue is an evidence of the Jewish community existence in West Anatolia in the ancient times with its capacity of 1000 people. Return to Izmir for leisure and shopping. Dinner and overnight in Izmir.
Day 8: Departure
Breakfast and transfer to Izmir airport.