Jewish Heritage tour

Highlights: Istanbul, Izmir, Sardis, Ephesus

Day 1 — ARRIVE Istanbul
Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to your hotel. The Jewish Community in Turkey is about 25 thousand and most of them live in Istanbul today. The majority is made up of Sephardic, but there are also some Ashkenazi and Karaite communities as well. Meals at guests' expense.

Day 2 — Istanbul / Jewish districts
In 1492 Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition arrived at Istanbul and welcomed by the Ottomans. Many of them settled in Galata neighborhood where you'll visit Galata Tower built by Genoese in the 14th century, offering a great bird-eye view of the old city. From the Tower walk to Neve Shalom Synagogue and then visit the Jewish Museum of Turkey, known also as Zulfaris Synagogue, run by Quincentennial Foundation where you'll see the story of 700 years of amity between Turks and Jews. After lunch, drive to Balat district along the Golden Horn, another old Jewish district where you'll visit the Ahrida Synagogue built over 500 years ago and still in use today. After wondering in this old neighborhood where the Star of David appears on some of the buildings, return back to your hotel. Lunch and Dinner at guests' expense. (B)

Day 3 — Istanbul / Highlights
Depart from your hotel after breakfast. Visit ancient Byzantine Hippodrome where once chariots ran and thousands of Byzantines cheered them. Some of the important monuments of the Hippodrome are; Egyptian Obelisk dating back to 16th century B.C., Serpentine Column from 5th century B.C., and the Stone Obelisk erected in 10th century A.D. Than you visit the Blue Mosque built in the 17th century, famous for its six minarets and beautiful Iznik tiles as interior decoration. It's still in use by the Moslems and is the most important mosque in Istanbul. After the mosque have a short walk to visit Hagia Sophia, glory of the Byzantine Empire, built in the 6th century which houses magnificent gold-leafed mosaics. The Church was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in the 15th century, then into a museum after the Republic, and then into mosque again in July 2020. After lunch you'll visit Topkapi Palace, once the residence of the Ottoman Sultans located on a hilltop dominating the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Today it's a museum where precious displays such as Porcelains, Crystals, Sultan's costumes, Books, Portraits, and Diamonds can be visited. At the end you'll pay a visit to world famous Grand Bazaar for your shopping of traditional goods. Transfer back to your hotel at the end of the day. Lunch and Dinner at guests' expense. (B)

  Day 4 — Istanbul / Bosphorus - Izmir
Breakfast and check out from your hotel in the morning. Visit the Egyptian Bazaar known as Spice Market to smell and buy hundreds of lively colored spices; you can also explore small street markets around it. Then take a ferry to start your cruise on the Bosphorus Strait, while sailing along the European and Asian shores enjoy viewing Ottoman Palaces, Fortresses, Ottoman wooden houses, Suspension bridges, and fishermen. After this lovely cruise, possibility of lunch in a restaurant along the Bosphorus. After lunch, take the Intercontinental Suspension Bridge and set your foot on Asian Continent with a pleasant panoramic drive viewing residential areas of the city. Visit also Beylerbeyi Palace on this side, which was the summer residence of the last Ottoman Sultans for many years until the Republic. Today it's used as a museum housing original furniture, curtains and carpets showing luxurious life of the ancient rulers. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Izmir, known in ancient times as Smyrna. On your arrival, you're escorted to your hotel in the city. Lunch and Dinner at guests' expense. (B)

Day 5 — Izmir / Ephesus
After breakfast, drive to Selcuk for the Ephesus which was the capital of the Roman Province of Asia Minor. At the ancient site you'll visit the Odeon, the Bouleterion, the fountains, the temples, the brothel, the library, the agoras, the great theater, the roman baths, the marble road, the gymnasiums and so on. After lunch visit the Archeological Museum filled with a rich collection from the site and around. Than you'll visit the grounds of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. A short drive back to Izmir at the end of the day. Lunch and Dinner at guests' expense. (B)

Day 6 — Izmir / Sardis
The city of Izmir has a 400 year old Jewish community with many synagogues. Today you'll visit the most important synagogue of the city; the Beth Israel. In the afternoon drive to Sardis, the ancient capital of Lydia, where you'll see the significant ruins of the ancient city such as the Temple of Artemis, the golden river Pactalos, the Persian Royal Road, the Gymnasium and so on. You will visit the remains of one of the world's oldest synagogue's, the Sardis Synagogue, first built in the 3rd century BC. After visits, drive back to Izmir. Lunch and Dinner at guests' expense. (B)

Day 7 — DEPART Izmir
Transfer to the airport after breakfast in hotel for your return trip home. (B)

(B) Breakfast

 Important Notes 

  • This tour is run only on private basis from Istanbul or Izmir in English language, we don't have any group tour for Jewish Heritage.
  • Arrival at Istanbul can be arranged for any day of the week.
  • Order of the visits may be changed for the convenience of the tour.
  • Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays, Grand Bazaar on Sundays & Turkish public and religious holidays, Beylerbeyi Palace on Mondays, Jewish museum and Synagogues on Saturdays and during Jewish holidays. On these specific days they'll be substituted with other museums or sites depending on the convenience of the program and time schedule.
  • Special permissions required to visit the synagogue which has to be applied in advance.
  • Depending on seasonal occupancies, Izmir overnight may be swapped to Kusadasi or Selcuk.
  • This tour operates with a minimum of 8 participants!