The Ahrida Synagogue

The Ahrida Synagogue

The Ahrida Synagogue, one of the oldest in Istanbul, is located in Balat neighborhood - once a thriving Jewish quarter.

The Ahrida Synagogue

It was built by members of a group called the Romaniotes, who are from north Macedonia. The Romaniotes were an Orthodox Christian Greek Jewish community dating back to the 1430s in Macedonia (at that time known as Ottoman Empire and now North Macedonia).They immigrated there about five centuries ago by going through Constantinople. vSephardi Jews arrived to the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1492 from the Iberian Peninsula which includes countries like Spain, Portugal and others they brought with them their Jewish traditions, rituals and culture for over 500 years ago.

The Romaniotes of Istanbul, like many other communities and Thessaloniki, became assimilated into the Sephardic culture and adopted the Sephardic liturgy as well as Sephardi language. The synagogue building, one of the two ancient synagogues in Istanbul's Golden Horn, was renovated in 1992 by Quincentennial Foundation, for celebration of 500th anniversary of Sephardim Jews' arrival to Ottoman Empire.

The Ahrida Synagogue is known for its boat-shaped tevah - the reading platform, also referred to as a bimah in Ashkenazi communities. The synagogue is the only one in Istanbul at which Sabbatai Zevi, founder of the Jewish Sabbatean movement, prayed.