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Private Tour: Istanbul's Jewish Heritage

Istanbul, Turkey
Private Tour: Istanbul's Jewish Heritage
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From $85.00

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Safety measures
icon4 hours  (Approx.)
Hotel pickup offered
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English
Good for avoiding crowds


Uncover the rich history of Jewish culture during this privately guided tour in Istanbul. Explore old Jewish synagogues such as the Etz Ahayim Synagogue and Ashkenazi Synagogue and learn about Istanbul’s vast Jewish heritage. Enjoy visits to famous sites like Galata Tower and the Jewish Museum of Turkey (referred to as the Zülfaris Synagogue) to grasp the depth of Jewish people’s history from ancient times through Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires to present day.
  • Private tour of Istanbul’s Jewish sites
  • Learn about the centuries-old history and culture of Istanbul’s Jewish community
  • Admire the Galata Tower, one of the city's most striking landmarks
  • Visit two prominent synagogues, Ashkenazi Synagogue and Etz Ahayim Synagogue
  • Gain a deeper understanding of Jewish and Muslim coexistence at the Jewish Museum of Turkey
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Local guide
Hotel pickup and drop-off
Transport by private vehicle
Food and drinks, unless specified
Entry to the Galata Tower

Departure Point

Traveler pickup is offered

Departure Time

8:45 AM
Start your privately guided tour of Istanbul’s Jewish history with a pickup from your centrally located hotel in Istanbul. Board your vehicle and cruise to the old Jewish neighborhood of Galata and learn how the fourth crusade captured and demolished the area in the year 1203. Then, admire the elegance of the Galata Tower. Hear how this famous Istanbul monument and vantage point was constructed in the 14th century as part of colonial expansion into Constantinople by the Genoese.

Next, walk over to the Ashkenaz Synagogue, currently the only active synagoue of it kind in Istanbul. Learn about the Austrian Jews who established it in 1900 for the Ashkenazi Jewish sect. Today the synagogue still celebrates bar mitzvahs, weddings, other religious ceremonies and is available to visitors and those who wish to pray.

With your expert guide continue through the Beyoğlu neighborhood to the Jewish Museum of Turkey formerly known as the Zülfaris Synagogue. Learn how this 19th century religious building was renovated and rebuilt as a musuem in 2001 to honor the 500th anniversary of Sephardic Jews coming to the Ottoman Empire. Enter the museum and see how Jewish culture and tradition coalesced with Turkish history. Plus, learn how Muslims and Jews lived with one another and see a display that explains the successful Jewish quest from Spain to Turkey.

Finally, visit Etz Ahayim Synagogue also referred to as the Ortaköy Synagogue. Located in the Beşiktaş district in the neighborhood of Ortaköy, gain insight into how various ethnicities and religions such as Greeks, Turks, Armenians and Jews were all able to live together in harmony during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Even in present day this neighborhood is a perfect example of how colors and creeds can live in peace.

In the afternoon, leave Ortaköy with new knowledge of Jewish history in Turkey and head back to your hotel where your tour concludes.
Stop At:  
Galata Tower
After pickup from your hotel in the morning, start your private tour with a drive to the Galata Tower, built in 1348 by the Genoese during their colonial expansion in Constantinople. Located in the centuries-old Jewish quarter of Galata, which was seized and destroyed in 1203 by the Fourth Crusade, the tower dominates the skyline and remains a symbol of the city.
Duration: 30 minutes
Admission Ticket Included
Stop At:  
Askenazi Synagogue
Continue to the nearby Ashkenaz Synagogue, founded by Austrian Jews in 1900 for the Ashkenazi Jewish ethnic division. This is the only still-active synagogue of its kind in Istanbul. The synagogue holds weddings, bar mitzvahs and other religious ceremonies, and is open for public visits and prayers.
Duration: 1 hour 
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
The Quincentennial Foundation Museum of Turkish Jews
Also in the Beyoğlu district is the Jewish Museum of Turkey, your next stop. Formerly known as the Zülfaris Synagogue, this 19th-century religious structure was restored and remodeled as a museum in 2001 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman Empire. Inside the museum, learn about the traditions and history of Turkish Jewry, and its coexistence with Muslim culture, as well as the historical accounts of the Jewish odyssey from Spain to Turkey.
Duration: 45 minutes
Admission Ticket Included
Stop At:  
ETZ Ahayim Synagogue
Your last stop is the Etz Ahayim Synagogue, also known as the Ortaköy Synagogue, located in the Ortaköy neighborhood of Istanbul's Beşiktaş district. During the Ottoman Empire and the first decades of the Turkish Republic, communities of Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Jews coexisted in this area, and today it continues to show how people from multiple cultures and religions can live in harmon After gaining insight into Istanbul’s Jewish history, return to your hotel in the early afternoon.
Duration: 45 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking, unless booked within 2 days of travel. In this case confirmation will be received within 48 hours, subject to availability
  • In the event of any museum closures, an alternative similar museum will be visited
  • Not recommended for children aged 4 and under
  • Children 18 years and under must be accompanied by an adult
  • Please note you MUST provide your full passport details at time of booking. This information is required in order to obtain permission to enter the synagogues
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
  • OPERATED BY Neon Tours
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.

Learn more about cancellations.

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What is the policy on face masks and attendee health during Private Tour: Istanbul's Jewish Heritage?
A:The policies on face masks and attendee health are:

  • Face masks required for travelers in public areas
  • Face masks required for guides in public areas
  • Face masks provided for travelers
See all safety measures taken by Private Tour: Istanbul's Jewish Heritage.
What is the policy on sanitization during Private Tour: Istanbul's Jewish Heritage?
A:The policies on sanitization are:

  • Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff
  • Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
  • Gear/equipment sanitized between use
  • Transportation vehicles regularly sanitized
See all safety measures taken by Private Tour: Istanbul's Jewish Heritage.
What is the social distancing policy during Private Tour: Istanbul's Jewish Heritage?
A:The policy on social distancing is:

  • Social distancing enforced throughout experience
See all safety measures taken by Private Tour: Istanbul's Jewish Heritage.


19 Reviews

Reviews by Viator travelers

Showing 1-10 of 19 reviews
This tour was so fantastic! From...
Diane C
, Oct 2015
This tour was so fantastic! From meeting us in a huge gold mini van at the port where our cruise ended, to bringing us to our hotel afterwards, it was luxurious and showed great hospitality. Our guide had arranged for us in advance to visit inside two synagogues and with all the security it is clear we could not have done this on our own. She knew quite a lot about the history of Jews in the Ottoman Empire and had spent a few months on a kibbutz in Israel. She knew her stuff. We started with a visit to Galata tower, which was beyond what was advertised. That gave us a terrific orientation to Istanbul. We saw five synagogues all together in real working class neighborhoods, and we felt like the only tourists on the street. It was so special! We stopped for coffee in a neighborhood shop that had so much character. It was really a remarkable experience, worth very penny!
Tour interesting. Guide knew his...
Megan H
, Jul 2015
Tour interesting. Guide knew his history of Istanbul. Knew a lot about the synagogues etc, but was not Jewish so perhaps we missed some of what life inTurkey was like before and after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
we did a Jewish heritage tour. we...
Barbara B
, Sep 2014
we did a Jewish heritage tour. we visited a couple of synagogues and the Jewish Museum, which were interesting we did not get many details about the history of the Jews in Istanbul or Turkey, how or where they live now, their contribution to the current community, how many Jews live in Istanbul. thus I was very disappointed with the tour
The half day tour could have been...
, Jul 2014
The half day tour could have been completed in 2 hours. Two synagogues..... Synagogues actually charged us to go in rather than wait for tzeduka. I was very surprised. Perhaps the Jewish museum could have been added to the tour, or another synagogue?
Very interesting and we enjoyed it a...
, Jul 2014
Very interesting and we enjoyed it a lot. It would have been even better if the guide was Jewish or knew more personally about the Jewish community, past and present, but he still did a very good job. It was great having an air conditioned car to take us around.
if seeing some synagogues is the...
, Jun 2014
if seeing some synagogues is the only way to go then this is the trip for you. Not exceptionally exciting but we enjoyed the tours of the 3 synagogues.
Very well organised and will...
lawrence k
, May 2014
Very well organised and will recommend your company to anyone who is thinking of going on a guided tour The guide and driver were first class. Lawrence kraft
Very interesting tour. Guide excellent...
moses g
, Apr 2014
Very interesting tour. Guide excellent. Highly recommended
Our guide was brilliant, and the...
Jodi Anne G
, Apr 2014
Our guide was brilliant, and the driver was polite and efficient. We could not have asked for a better introduction to Istanbul's Jewish Quarter. We loved Istanbul and are hoping to return again soon.
Wonderful tour guide, would...
Elana S
, Feb 2014
Wonderful tour guide, would definitely recommend her to other tourists. We got done a bit early, so she took us around a small market and towards the water.

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