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Ahrida Synagogue Istanbul

Ahrida Synagogue Istanbul
This 15th century synagogue, and the oldest in Istanbul , can be found on Kükcü Çeşmesi Street and it takes its name from Ohrid in Macedonia where its original worshippers came from. 

It was rebuilt in 1694 after a sustaining damage from a fire and an internal dome was added although it was not visible from the outside as at that time minority populations were forbidden to build domes.  The prayer platform (bema) is in the shape of the bow of a ship that represents the vessel that transported the Jews from Spain to Balat , although some believe it to symbolise Noah’s Ark. 

The synagogue once had a congregation of 500 worshippers and it was here in 1666 that Sabbetai Tsvi from Smyrna ( modern Izmir ), who was a self-proclaimed Jewish Messiah, announced his faith that went on to create a religious division that still continues today.  The building was restored in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Jews arriving in Turkey and the synagogue is still in use today.

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