Istanbul Jewish Museum

At the end of 15th Century, more than 100.000 Jewish people were forced to leave Spain and afterward, Sultan Beyazid the second welcomed most of them to the Ottoman Empire. The Jewish people that settled down, started to move to many regions of the Empire, bringing together their diverse customs and knowledge. 500 years after the first Jewish people arrived, Istanbul Jewish Museum was founded to thank the Turkish nation and to show gratefulness to Turkish people.

History of Turkish Jews

In the latter part of the 15th century, the Jews in Spain dealt with intense demands of converting to Christianity along with several finally became Christians. In 1492 the Ferdinand, the king of Spain, ordered that all Jews who denied being a Christian, to be expelled from Spain

Once the news of evacuation spread the Turkish empire ( Ottoman Empire ), the Sultan Beyazit II edicted that Jewish people are allowed to move to the Empire. An important percentage of those expelled then moved to Ottoman Empire and settled down mainly in Western locations in the empire. The Turkish Jews are generally defined as Sephardic Jews. This originates from the term of Sepharad which in Hebrew signifies Spain.

From 15th Century, the Ottoman sultans and the modern-day Republic of Turkey accepted the Jews and provided shelter from persecution in the Western Nations. The Ottoman Empire at 16th century became one the greatest empires in World History overlaying almost all of Mediterranean basin area enlarging from Northern Africa to Eastern Europe. Many historians agree that one of the factors that extended the domination of Turkish Empire was its religious freedom that provided to all nations under its ruleEven though many European countries expelled, persecuted or assimilate the Jews under their control, the Turkish Empirecontinued to be a remarkable instance of tolerance of other nationalities with many religious beliefs.

The Jews originating from Spain set up the earliest publishing presses that had became known as a very important item of the contemporary societyLots of Jewish docs worked in the courts of Ottoman sultans along with the Ottoman military. Jews involved in trade between nations of the area for the advantage of each one.

Until Great War I the territory of Israel known as Palestine, held under the reign of The Turkish EmpireWithin this duration of time, the Jewish population herein stayed as devoted people of the Ottoman Empire. After W. War I, the British Empire got the control of the Middle East and Israel which resulted in the declaration of independence of the Israel State in 1948.

In The Second Great World War times, Turkish administration set a decree rejecting entry of Jews getting away the Nazi regime. However, a lot of Turkish diplomats in other nations tried to aid Jews who managed to escape from deportation to death. ( Selahattin Ulkumen is a great example who tried to save the Jewish people in Rhodes ) Opposition to the Turkish Government decision to rejecting Jews, Several Jewish scientists were accepted and worked in Turkish Universities. After the World War 2, lots of Jewish people started to move to Israel and still, there are important numbers of Jewish people live in Turkey.

Istanbul Jewish Museum

Istanbul Jewish Museum

Istanbul’s Quincentennial Foundation Jewish Museum Of Turkey has upgraded its permanent exhibition — and altered venues, moving from the Zulfaris Synagogue to the Neve Shalom Synagogue.

“We united Neve Shalom and the Istanbul Jewish Museum together under the same umbrella and thus guests will be able to visit both together when they get in.”  told by Nisya İşman Allovi, Director and Coordinator of Istanbul Jewish Museum. He added, “if there is a wedding event or other ceremony in the synagogue the guests will be able to see the ceremony from the museum section.”

The setting is like Jewish Museum in Rome, Italy. The museum entry is different from the synagogue entry still, guests may tour the synagogue as a part of their visit to the museum. With the move, the permanent exhibition has been extended, and newer parts are added. Among other things, an area for kids has been designed, and touch screen computers have been placed, by using which site visitors will be able to reach additional material and details.

The museum consists 3 different sections, allowing the guests to be linked with a great deal of information on history, religious rituals and social life.


In the 1st section, Jewish historical past on Anatolian lands from 4th century BC to present-day is shared with. Including the part from the Ottoman Empire time to the Turkish Republic, past events are displayed in chronological order. The touch-screen panels that explain more recent history present several topics with the accompaniment of photos and video clips. In the part specialized in journalism, samples of Jewish press in Turkey, consisting samples of news-papers, publishings and historical pieces are presented.

The Midrash hall that makes the physical connection between Neve Shalom and the museum allows you the observe the events hosted at the synagogue like; circumcision, wedding.

In the last section touch-screens and boards share of Jewish customs, feasts, gastronomy, linguistic heritage and music together with buildings like synagogues and cemeteries are situated in the part of Big Jewish Community.


A 19th-century hanukkiah in the shape of Minaret in Istanbul Jewish Museum
Rimonim Crafted in Antioch in Istanbul Jewish Museum

New address: 
Bereketzade Mahallesi,
Büyükhendek Caddesi No: 39,
Beyoğlu, Istanbul

Official webpage of Museum:

Visiting Hours of Istanbul Jewish Museum

The museum can be visited from 10 am to 4 pm Monday to Thursday, on Fridays 10 am to 1 pm, Sundays 10 am to 2 pm. The museum is closed on Saturdays (Sabbath), national and religious holidays. As Real Istanbul Tours, we are happy to provide Jewish heritage tours that hit the Istanbul Jewish Museum, Balat district and more sites.

For Istanbul private tours 

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