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Istanbul Sights

Jewish Museum of Turkey

Updated 11/19/2013

Fodor's Review

The history of the Jews in Turkey is much more extensive and colorful than the size of this small museum housed in the 19th-century Zulfaris Synagogue might suggest. Nevertheless, the museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Turkish Jews, whose presence in Anatolia is traced back to as early as the 4th century BC. In 1492, the Spanish Inquisition drove Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, and Sultan Beyazıt II welcomed the refugees to the Ottoman Empire.

A large Jewish population thrived here for centuries, and some older Turkish Jews still speak a dialect of medieval Spanish called Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish. Today, Turkey's Jewish community numbers about 23,000, most of whom live in Istanbul, which has 18 active synagogues (three of which are on the Princes' Islands). The museum exhibits, most of them based on items donated by local Jewish families, include photographs, documents, and an ethnographic section with changing exhibits on subjects such as marriage traditions. There are also religious items brought from some very old (no longer active) synagogues in other parts of Turkey.

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Sight Information


Karaköy Meydanı, Perçemli Sok. 1, (off Tersane Cad. Perçemli is small street on your right as you come out of Tünel exit of underpass), Istanbul, Turkey

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Sight Details:

  • 10 TL
  • Mon.–Thurs. 10–4, Fri. and Sun. 10–2

Updated 11/19/2013


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