Located in Balat, the city's historically Jewish district, Istanbul's oldest synagogue is believed to date back to the 1430s, when it was founded by Jews from the town of Ohrid in what is today Macedonia. The synagogue was extensively restored in 1992 to the Ottoman baroque style of its last major reconstruction in the 17th century. The most interesting feature of this Sephardic place of worship is the boat-shape wooden bimah (reading platform), whose form is thought
to represent either Noah's Ark or the ships that brought the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula to the Ottoman Empire in 1492. To visit, you must apply by email (preferred) or fax at least four business days in advance to the Chief Rabbinate (follow the directions on their Web site).