Synagogues Route

The İzmir port used as a port of exportation by Ottoman Empire since 1605 gained importance, so it accelerated the migrations to İzmir and the Jews started to establish Jewish districts around Havra Street, Keçeciler, Karataş, Karantina and Agora. Experiencing a constant increase in Jewish population because of the migrations, İzmir became a cultural center like İstanbul and Salonika that publish books for the Eastern countries after Yeshivas (religious schools) and Synagogues were opened in 1631. The number of synagogues increased to fifteen in 1990.

Judaic Belief Tour

"Synagogues" Tour is recommended to the people who want to witness the lives of Jews in İzmir. However, the Jews from all over the world apply a program called "Haim Palache." In this section, we shall firstly tell about "Diamond Triangle of Haim Palache." Secondly, we shall introduce the synagogues of Kemeraltı and other religious places.

Diamond Triangle of Hayim Palache

Beit Hillel-Pool-Grave Bet Hillel synagogue was founded in the house of Palache family. Rabbi Haim Palache (1788-1869) and his son Rabbi Avraham Palache (1809-1899) were the most important religious scholars of İzmir Jewish Community in the 19th century. Rabbi Haim Palache wrote 72 books in total throughout his life and 26 of them were published. He was rewarded with the order of "Religious person in charge of keeping justice" by Sultan Abdülmecid in 1861. The works of Haim Palache who was born in İzmir in 1788 were written in Beit Hillel Synagogue and are still taught as the text books in schools giving religious education. It is believed that Beit Hillel Synagogue, along with the grave of Haim Palache and purification pool in Gürçeşme cemetery, are named as "Diamond Triangle" by the students of Haim Palache and should be visited absolutely. Jews coming from the different places of the world visit the cemetery of Palache in Gürçeşme, İzmir and then, they enter into the "purification pool" collectively. The synagogue is located in Havra Street in Kemeraltı.

Kemeraltı Jewish Tour

Rabbinate Rabbinate building was founded in 1840 with the support of Rothschild Family from Vienna. It is located in the middle of a big garden surrounded by walls in the street which was mentioned as "Rabbinate Street" once upon a time. As understood from its name, Rabbinate functioned as the office of Chief Rabbi in İzmir. In order to meet the need in "Passover" fest of İzmir Jewish Community, matzo was baked in the bakery next to Rabbinate. Central library and Yeshiva (religious school) of İzmir Jewish Community were there until the 1930s and all formal woks of the community were conducted in Rabbinate. In 1997, Rabbinate was emptied and an office was rented in Alsancak to perform the works of the Community. Today, whole roof of the building collapsed and the walls were deformed. Konak Municipality conducts the restoration project studies of Rabbinate. Rabbinate is around Havra Street in Kemeraltı. Algazi Synagogue Located in Street 927 and number 73, Algazi Synagogue was built by Algazi family in 1724. Shalom Synagogue is located in the north while Senora Giveret Synagogue is located in the southwest. Today, the structure has one floor. Its plan scheme was changed under Italian influence in the 20th century, but "Mehizah" section where the women worship was removed. Rumor has it that a young Rabbi winked at a lady, so Mehizah was demolished by the Chief Rabbi. Walls of the yard in street 927 are massive and high. Algazi Synagogue was constructed as stone masonry. Its floor covering and headlining are wooden and roof of the building is wooden construction. Nowadays, it was positioned under four columns dividing the ceiling of the synagogue which has an original place for tevya, into nine parts. Tevya on the platform heightened with four steps is covered with a green ornamental prayer rug. Bikur Holim Synagogue Located in İkiçeşmelik Street, Bikur Holim Synagogue was firstly built by Salomon de Ciaves with the Netherlands origin living in İzmir. The synagogue burnt in a big fire (1772), so the second synagogue was built by Manuel de Ciaves in 1800. Being the most beautiful synagogue of İzmir, Bikur Holim keeps its original appearance today as well. There are jails of the community in basements of the synagogues located in the Ottoman cities. It is thought that basement of Bikur Holim was used for this purpose. Geometrical decorations exist above the cantilever of torah cupboard. Bikur Holim Synagogue has interior ornaments and multi-colored glamorization. Etz Hayim Synagogue The synagogue is located in İnkılap Street in Güzelyurt Neighborhood. It is thought that it dates back to Byzantine period when Jews came to İzmir for the first time. The synagogue burnt a few times in İzmir fires, was repaired and renovated lastly by Daniel Sidi in 1851. This synagogue was not used today and is broken down. Since it is one of old Sefarad synagogues, it was constructed based on a central plan in which its tevya is placed under four columns dividing the ceiling into nine pieces and seating arrangement surrounds this form. Nowadays, the building was turned into a linear plan having a church plan scheme. An entrance section is used to enter the building. In this section, there is a front synagogue which has a tevya on a small platform and the seats surrounding the tevya and can give service to a small community for the worships to be made in miscellaneous days. Upper floor of the entrance section is mehizah section. There are six torah cupboards drawing attention with their woodworking. The ceiling positioning tevya between four columns which divide the place into nine rectangles and bear the roof was differentiated by putting flower ornaments in green geometrical forms. Portugal Synagogue It is the only synagogue describing with its name that from which country its founders migrated to İzmir. It is estimated that Portugal Synagogue was founded by the Jews with Portugal origin who migrated from the North Africa and Venice in 1569. It is one of six synagogues known to exist in the period of Rabbi Yosef Eskapa, namely in 1620 and it is mentioned as the biggest synagogue of that period in İzmir. Portugal Synagogue had an important role in the events happening upon the return of Sabbatai Zevi to İzmir in 1665. Regarded as the fortress of Sabbatai opponents, this synagogue closed its doors to Sabbatai Zevi after the extension of Sabataist movement. By contrast with this, Sabbatai and his supporters entered the synagogue after breaking its gate and fired rabbi of their opponents. There was also the founder of Algazi synagogue, Salomon Algazi among them. In this invasion, Sabbatai Zevi proclaimed himself as the Messiah of the Jews and salvation day as June 18, 1666. Hereafter, Portugal Synagogue became the center of the Sabataist movement and most of the Jews in İzmir joined this movement. The palace was informed when the people coming from different places of the world joined the Sabataist movement. The riot atmosphere in İzmir was smoothened after the palace called Sabbatai. Portugal Synagogue burnt in 1976 and except its front walls, it is completely blasted. Talmud Torah Synagogue Located in Havra Street, the synagogue was known to be built in the 17th century. It is called as Kedose, Bet-illel Hevra and Talmud Torah. Together with the grave of Palaci and Gürçeşme Jewish Cemetery, Talmud Torah Synagogue makes up the sacred triangle which is consecrated and visited periodically by Jews. Renovated in 1838 by Hacez Brothers, the synagogue was renovated in 1870 again after it burnt in 1841. A large part of its roof was collapsed and the building is considerably blasted nowadays. Due to its 500th year anniversary, the Ministry of Culture thinks renovating the building. The synagogue has a central plan because of being one of the Sefarad synagogues. An entrance hall is used to access the main place. Mehizah is positioned on the upper floor of this entrance. This entrance section has a small front synagogue which is arranged to hold ceremonies with limited participation on miscellaneous days and has a tevya in the middle. Ground and upper floors of Talmud Torah Synagogue were constructed as masonry stone and frame, respectively. Its headlining is wooden and roof of the building is wooden construction. Its floor covering is stone. Tevya of the synagogue which has the woodworking used for heightening with eight steps and is placed on the platform resembling an ancient galley was moved to the solid section of the roof to avoid any destruction, since some part of the roof was collapsed before. Hekal wall bearing the torah cupboard was collapsed as well, so the glamorizations of the torah cupboard and hekal wall were damaged. The middle ceiling divided by four columns which bear the roof and divide the ceiling into nine parts was differentiated by putting ornaments in red- green geometrical forms. Shaolom- Aydınlılar Synagogue Located in Havra Street of Kemaraltı with street number 927 and door number 38, the synagogue is across Algaze Synagogue. The synagogue was known to be used in the period of Chief Rabbi Haim Eskapa and renovated twice in 1800 and 1841, respectively. The building was constructed in the 1500s and the great İzmir fire in 1841 was stopped in front of the synagogue. In its entrance gate, there is an inscription describing this event. A small garden is used to enter the building. It was constructed with a central plan, but its central plan was turned into a church-style planning, which is a linear plan scheme in the following years. Its mehizah section is small. This synagogue is not used today. Ground and upper floors of the building were constructed as masonry stone and frame, respectively. Its floor coverings and headlining are wooden and roof of the building is wooden construction. The ceiling of the main place of the synagogue, tevya was divided into nine rectangles by four columns bearing the heightened ceiling. Today, portable tevya of Shaolom Synagogue moved to hekal wall stands on a platform which is reached with six steps and resembles a galley. Tevya is covered with a claret red prayer rug with handiwork. The ceilings are decorated with geometrical forms. Colors of the glamorization and the claret red clothes with handiwork covering the torah cupboard and tevya are the items encoloring the interior… Senora Giveret Synagogue Senora Giveret Synagogue is located in Havra Street on the parcel facing Anafartalar Road and Street 927. It is very close to Algaze and Shalom synagogues. Known to be built between 1510 and 1569 by Donna Garcia Mendes, the building was destroyed significantly because of the fire in 1841 and rebuilt again based on a central plan by Yerushalmi family. Main place of the synagogue is reached through a terrace which was heightened from the yard with five steps. The synagogue was constructed based on a central plan just like the first building. New plan scheme which was started to be applied under Italian influence in the 20th century was used on Senora Giveret Synagogue as well and its portable tevya was moved to hekal wall and integrated with the torah cupboard. Seating orders were turned into linear style as in the interior arrangements of the churches. Today, the synagogue has linear plan scheme. Yard is used to go to mehizah located on the entrance hall which opens to the main place. This place was located as a clerestorey across hekal wall by being divided with half wooden frameworks. The building has two floors and is a single volume. Its walls were constructed as masonry stone. The roof is a wooden hipped roof. Its floor coverings and headlining are wooden. Walls of the board yard of Seniora Giveret Synagogue were constructed in massive and high form to avoid the synagogue to be seen from the street. There are one-floored outbuilding structures in the garden of the synagogue. Interior was decorated with the bronze flowers surrounded by green geometrical forms in the ceiling, claret red clothes ornament tevyas and torah cupboard and claret red cushions of the seats.

Karataş Synagogues

Beit Israel Synagogue According to the decree of Abdulhamid II written to Former Governor of İzmir, Grand Vizier Kamil Paşa in 1905, building permit was received in 1904 to enable the Jews living in Karataş district to worship. Started to be constructed in 1905, Karataş Beit Israel Synagogue started to give service in 1907. It is the first example in İzmir which was constructed under Italian influence. Being the biggest synagogue of İzmir, Beit Israel is used frequently today. Since it was constructed under Italian influence, it has a church-style linear plan scheme. An entrance hall is used to go to the main place of the synagogue. Mehizah section surrounds the interior all around as a U-planned gallery. The building is entered from five gates highlighted with five arches two of which are lancet arches. While the gates with two lancet arches on sides are opened to the stairs going up mehizah, the other three gates are opened to the hall facing the main place. There is the figure of Polar Star on the triangle gablet above the entrance. The building is opened to the street completely, so it can be perceived from outside. Similar to the other synagogues, the bearing system of Beit Israel Synagogue is made of masonry stone. Headlining of the building and coverings of the clerestorey are wooden and the roof of the building is wooden construction. Tiles make up the floor covering of the building. Synagogue has two tevyas. Tevya of the synagogue having a church plan scheme was built by being heightened from the ground with five marble steps in a way that the platform bearing tevya and torah cupboard were considered as a whole and a semi-open space is created on the wall facade facing hekal. Since it has a church plan, four columns which divide the place and enable the differentiation of the roof by heightening it do not exist. However, the dome in the main place of the synagogue highlights the centricity. Being the first example of church-style planning type in İzmir, this synagogue built under Italian influence is the most-frequently used synagogue. Shar Ashamayim Synagogue in Alsancak comes after Beit Israel in terms of use. Any change has not been seen inside the synagogue, yet. It developed by keeping its original form in 1908. Roşaar (Tepebaşı) Synagogue Roşaar Synagogue is located in Street 281 in Upper Karataş. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century. The garden is accessed from the entrance gate which was heightened by three steps, compared to Street 281. The synagogue has a central plan. Main place is entered directly from a terrace which is connected to the garden in the axis of the entrance gate through twelve steps. Similar to Talmud, Torah and Bikur Holim Synagogues, there is not an entrance section opening to the main place. Additionally, the synagogue does not have a mehizah section today. Tevya is in the middle of the place and surrounded by the seats. The building has one floor and was constructed with masonry stone. Its roof is wooden construction. Tiles make up its floor covering. Tevya of this synagogue which is not used nowadays, stands on an octagonal platform drawing attention with its woodworking heightened with six steps.

Alsancak Synagogue

Shar Ashamayim Synagogue Shar Ashamayim Synagogue was constructed as the prayer place of the Jews who settled in Alsancak as a result of spreading movement of the Jewish community outside Kemeraltı. Located in Alsancak district, Street 1390 and number 7, Shar Ashamayim Synagogue is the second one after Beit Israel Synagogue with regard to frequency of use. Since it has been continuously renovated since it was constructed and it changed according to needs, its original status is not known exactly. Shar Ashamayim Synagogue is not a sefarad synagogue, so it was constructed under Italian influence and has a church-style linear plan scheme. Main place of the building is reached with the stairs from the garden. Mehizah is located on the upper floor across hekal wall which is in the form of clerestorey. Ground floor is used as the outbuilding of the synagogue. The platform bearing tavya, and torah cupboard are located on hekal wall as a whole, just like a semi-open place. Tevyas are on this platform heightened with two steps. Ceilings of the building were renewed. Red colors predominate interior of the synagogue. Similar to seferad synagogues, its interior is not rich with regard to glamorizations. A documentation study was conducted to take the first step to transfer the identity of İzmir synagogues to future and the synagogues which were not only maintained, but also undergoing many interventions were promoted within this article. It was observed that the relevant religious structures contributing to urban identity crucially are under the threat of wreck due to being doomed, life conditions and the decreasing population of the community. High importance of the financial factor in their maintenance should be considered and the institutions which can fund and protect the culture, and support of the public are needed. Such buildings create a whole with not only their area, but also their surroundings. In particular, the synagogues in Kemeralı Havra Street have importance with regard to forming the completeness of texture and being the oldest synagogues of İzmir. Through the decisions to be given within this context, measures should be taken to protect such buildings together with their surroundings and projects should be developed. Refunctioning project of Karşıyaka Municipality applied for Kaal Kadosh Synagogue is a good example of using the building again, although the project is arguable with regard to function selection.

Alaybeyi Synagogue

Kaal Kadosh Synagogue Kaal Kadosh Synagogue was constructed in Alaybey as a place of worship for the Jews who settled in Karşıyaka as a result of the spreading movement of the Jewish community outside Kemeraltı. Constructed in the 20th century, this synagogue is not under Italian influence and does not have a church plan just like Beit Israel Synagogue, because it is not a Sefarad synagogue. It has two Tevyas. Tevyas stand on a platform which gained the feature of a semi-open place when Tevyas are integrated with torah cupboard and were heightened from the ground with two steps. Interior of the synagogue was considered as a hole and any columns dividing the place into nine parts were not built. The ceiling which is not ornamental was covered with flat wooden connections. Interior is quite simple and does not have any glamorization. Apart from the sefarad synagogues, the interior is quite light. The building was constructed as masonry stone. Headlining is wooden and roof of the building is wooden construction. Tiles make up the floor coverings. The synagogue is in a pretty yard. Dissimilar to the synagogues in Kemeraltı, walls of its yard were not constructed as massive and high. Instead, they are massive stones walls below the eye level just like ordinary garden walls. Except the main worship place, the building which was shaped as a conservatoire by Karşıyaka Municipality was changed after several additions. The main place is functioned as the hall in which music education is given and concerts are held. Platform of tevya is used as the stage. A lower structure was added to the entrance of the synagogue to avoid any wetness. Since the main place was not changes, plan scheme, seating orders, tevya, torah cupboard and the ornaments of the synagogue are original.


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