A Walking Tour of Istanbul's Jewish Heritage

Karakoy Cruise Port

Share a Private Tour

42 EUR per person

Max. 8 people group size

Visiting: Jewish area, Galata and Pera

Duration: 3 hours

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 also 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.

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  • Karakoy Cruise Port
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