Jewish Heritage in Turkey

Istanbul / Gallipoli / Troy / Assos / Pergamum / Izmir / Ephesus

(8 Nights / 9 Days)

The history of Jewish people in Turkey spans 2,400 years. There have been Jewish communities in Asia Minor since at least the 5th century BCE. In addition, many Spanish and Portuguese Jews who were expelled from Iberia in the late 15th century were welcomed to the Ottoman Empire. Despite a good amount of emigration during the early to mid 20th century, modern day Turkey continues to have a small Jewish population.

We designed this tour to give you as much insight as possible into the early Jewish sites in this country in a relatively short period of time. As a large number of these sites are clustered in Western Turkey, we concentrate on this area.


Day 1: Arrival at Istanbul Ataturk airport
Private transfer to your hotel; orientation walking tour of the neighborhood with your private guide. Some good local restaurants can be pointed out for dinner this evening.

Day 2: Istanbul
Private sightseeing includes Galata quarter, Galata Tower, Neve Shalom Synagogue, the Roman Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and the Grand Bazaar. (B)

Day 3: Istanbul
Private sightseeing includes Topkapi Palace and The Harem, Ahrida and Yanbol Synagogues in Balat, Kamondo Staircase and Zulfaris Synagogue Museum in Karakoy, Etz Ahayim Synagogue in Ortakoy, a boat ride on the Bosphorus Strait for about an hour. (B)

Day 4: Istanbul – Prince’s Islands by boat
We visit Spice Market before a joyful excursion to the Prince’s Islands. On the way to this archipelago, which consists of nine islands in the Marmara Sea, we enjoy the magnificent view of the Maiden's Tower, the Asian side of Istanbul, the historical peninsula, and the view of the Topkapi Palace complex by sea. Once we have reached Buyukada, we take a tour of the island's many splendid villas in well-kept gardens, by a horse-drawn carriage, before breaking for lunch at one of sea-front fish restaurants. We can visit also Heshet Le Avram Synagogue on Buyukada during summer months. (B)

Day 5: Istanbul / Gallipoli / Troy / Assos – Drive to Assos.
We rise early and begin our full day of travel to the northern Aegean Coast. Visits include Gallipoli, ANZAC Beach Cemetery and Troy. We travel across the strait of the Dardanelles to Troy. After an exploration of the ruins and relics here, we continue on to Behramkale, ancient Assos, where we spend the night. (B, L, D)

Day 6: Assos / Pergamum / Izmir – Drive to Izmir
This morning we depart for Pergamum, once one of the richest small kingdoms in Asia Minor. Here we visit the magnificent Acropolis. Along with the library, the Acropolis also boasts a great theater seating 10,000 and the marble-columned Temple of Trajan. Below the theater lie the ruins of the Temple of Dionysus along with the Altar of Zeus. We continue on to Asclepieum, a sanctuary and healing center built in the 4th century BC in the name of Ascelepius. Later this afternoon we continue to Izmir for overnight. (B, L)

Day 7: Izmir / Sardis
In the morning we tour Izmir's Jewish heritage sites. Sightseeing includes: Izmir's bazaar, synagogues of La Judiera, the area of the bazaar where the synagogues are located and where some Jewish merchants still work. We walk along Havra Sokak, the Street of Synagogues, named for its nine small, active synagogues, which served the Jewish merchants and artisans who worked close by. We continue our tour with the panoramic drive through the Alsancak quarter. Our next destination is the Karatas quarter. Here we see Beth Israel Synagogue, a handsome Ottoman Victorian-style building dating from the turn of the century. After visiting the synagogue, we walk to the Asansor, a 19th century funicular which once took passengers from the shore road up the sheer rock cliffs to the desirable residential district above. Next, we drive from Izmir to the ancient site of Sardis. During its heyday as a Roman city, Sardis had a very large and prosperous Jewish community which may have been established here in much earlier times. Known for an extremely large and rich Roman synagogue, we visit the remains of the beautiful and richly appointed synagogue. We overnight in Izmir. (B)

Day 8: Izmir / Kusadasi / Ephesus – Full day tour of Ephesus region
Visit the ruins of Ephesus, including the Roman period villas known as the Terrace Houses. After this visit, we drive to the local village of Sultankoy. Here we break for a grilled lunch and have the opportunity to learn about some local crafts, such as rug-weaving. We may also be able to see demonstrations performed by local craftsmen. A final stop is in the town of Selcuk where you can visit the Museum of Archaeology. (B, L)

Day 9: Izmir / Istanbul – Drive to Izmir Adnan Menderes airport for homebound departure
Transfer to Adnan Menderes airport for a flight to Istanbul, connecting to your flight home. (B)




Prices are per person, in USD and based on double occupancy at hotels:





From $3,790.00

From $2,790.00

From $2,350.00

From $1,990.00


Subject to availability and dates selected

A discount (10 %) will apply for the following period: November 15th to March 15th


Price of the trip package includes:
  • Accommodation at hotels:
    - 4 nights Istanbul: Hotel Ottoman Imperial (in the historic Sultanahmet neighborhood) or similar

- 1 night Assos: Hotel Nazlihan or similar
- 3 nights Izmir: Hotel Movenpick or similar

  • Domestic flights in coach class within the program (Izmir to Istanbul).
  • Meals as indicated by (B, L, D) - B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner.
  • 12 Meals: 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 1 dinner include bottled water.
  • Services of a private licensed, professional English-speaking guide throughout your trip.
  • All transfers and travel by private, modern, air-conditioned, chauffeur driven vehicles, appropriate to the size of your group. 
  • All entrance fees to the sites and museums mentioned in the program.
  • Parking, ferry, and toll road fees. Not applicable if you are driving a rental car.
  • Gratuity at restaurants where a meal is included in the program.
  • Porter fees at airports when our guide travels with you.


Price of the trip package excludes:

  • Airfare for international flights.
  • Beverages other than water during included meals.
  • Optional gratuities to the tour guide(s), driver(s). Also to the gulet crew if applies.
  • Tipping for porters at hotels.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Visas, laundry, and personal items.