Ahrida (Ohrid) Synagogue

Ahrida (Ohrid) Synagogue is one of the oldest synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey. It is located in Balat, the Jewish quarter, of the city.

It was built by Romaniotes (Greek Jews), but after the arrival of the Sephardi Jews it was used exclusively by them. This Romaniotes group were from the city of Ohrid in what was then the Ottoman Empire and is now the Republic of Macedonia, and it is said to have moved to Constantinople more than 550 years ago.

'Ahrida' is one of the two names being used by Greeks for the city of Ohrid. Sephardi Jews arrived in the Ottoman Empire from the Iberian peninsula in 1492, a larger group of Jews in population than Romaniotes. The result of this was the assimilation of the Romaniotes by the Sephradic culture. The two groups were finally mixed with Sephardic culture being the predominant culture now in Istanbul (like what happened in the case of the Jews of Thessaloniki) so that the liturgy was being done in the Sephardic style and the whole Jews community of the city was speaking the Ladino language.

The building, being one of the two ancient synagogues in Golden Horn, was renovated in 1992 by the Quincentennial Foundation, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Sephardic Jews' arrival in the Ottoman Empire. Ahrida Synagogue is known foremost by its boat-shaped tevah (reading platform, known in Ashkenazi communities as a bimah).

Ahrida Synagogue is also the only synagogue in Istanbul at which Sabbatai Zevi, founder of the Jewish Sabbatean movement, prayed.

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