Synagouge Bet Israel at Karatas, Izmir

Synagouge Bet Israel at Karatas ordered by the sultan İzmir is the only city where synagogues haven’t been closed for 500 years. One of the most important synagogues in the city is Beth Israel in Karataş. It is the most striking synagogue in the city with its architectural elements. The synagogue, which is located on Mithatpaşa Avenue, was built with the decree of Abdulhamit II in 1905, which opened in 1907 before it was completed, was renovated in the 1950’s by Gizbar Avram Rubi. The synagogue celebrated with 100th birthday with a series of events in 2007. Beth İsrael is different from traditional synagogues on Turkish soil.

The Teva isn’t in the middle of the synagogue. The two teva are located on the left and right of the ehal hakodeshin (the closet where handwritten Torahs are kept). The closet is supposed to look to the east but it looks to the south.Artists from Italy were brought in for the decorations but the decorations on the ceiling columns only include motifs traditional to İzmir. The decorations were inspired by decorations on mosques and Greek houses while wooden beams were connected, plastered and motifs were painted. The most striking characteristic of the synagogue is the wooden decorations. The synagogue can accommodate 400 people and has two floors.

Karatas Historical District

Karatas is located in the borough of Konak but it contributes greatly to the soul of the city. It is one of the most magnificent motifs on the painting we call. Karataş was first mentioned in history in the 1880’s. It looks like a small port in the bay before the construction of Mustafa Kemal Boulevard. We know that Karataş was a shipyard and ships for the Byzantine navy were made here. That is why when the Crusaders attacked İzmir in 1344 they burned the shipyard first. The shipyard was revived in 1403 when Timur conquered İzmir. Even though ship manufacturing moved to Naldöken, many ships and yachts were built here in the 1870’s.

The names of famous seafarers live on Today, Karataş is a huge neighborhood that stretches from Konak to Yalı on the coast and encompasses Mustafa Kemal Boulevard and Mithat Paşa Avenue and Halil Rıfat Paşa and Şehit Nihat Bey avenues on the road section. Karataş has three quarters that are called Barbaros, Turgut Reis and Kılıç Reis. The neighborhood is filled with places that bear the name of famous seamen. The Armenian School in Karataş now serves as the Cumhuriyet Educational Museum while the Karataş Jewish Hospital, the first hospital to be constructed with the decree of a sultan, continues to heal patients.The historical Girl’s School, the State Theatre, the historical counter atelier, Tatar quarter where Crimean Turks live and Selimiye Mosque built in 1901 are important historical structures. Karataş has become synonymous with the historical elevator, Beth Israel Synagogue and Hoşgör Turkish Bath.

Izmir’s historical elevator

The historical elevator One of the best places to watch İzmir from above is the historical elevator in Karataş. The elevator, commissioned by a Jewish citizen named Nesim Levi Bayraklıoğlu in 1907, is a very popular touristic spot in İzmir. The elevator was built to make transportation easier between Mithatpaşa Avenue and Halil Rıfat Paşa because you needed to climb 155 stairs to reach Halil Rıfat Paşa. These two quarters were united with this elevator. According to the plan created by engineers Nesim Levi brought from France and Italy, the elevator on the left worked with water power and the other one worked with electricity. After the renovations in 1985, both elevators now work with electricity. The tower, which starts with a stone base and middle, continues with tiles. There is a wooden balcony supported by iron beams at the spot where the tower reaches Halil Rıfat Paşa Avenue.

The lift, which was restored once more, is being used as an entertainment center by the İzmir MetropolitanMunicipality. The plaque above the entrance of the tower is in English and Hebrew and states the construction date of the structure and the name NesimLevi. Levi, who funded many synagogues in İzmir, also donated three of his houses for the construction of Karataş Hospital. Access to the elevator is via Dario Moreno Street. Houses on both sides of the street are worth seeing.

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Dario Moreno Street The street takes its name from Jewish guitarist, pianist and actor Dario Moreno, who was a true lover of İzmir. His house is also located on this street which is on Mithatpaşa Avenue. Moreno, who is famous for his songs such as Sea and Moonlight and Vodka, Rakı and Wine Every Night, was born in Aydın in 1921 but settled in İzmir. His first professional concert took place at the restaurant on Konak Pier. Here is how Moreno described his love for İzmir: Despite his will, he was buried in Holon, Israel after his death in 1968.

Dario moreno’s dying wish

My darling İzmir İzmir, my sweet and darling city…

If I die far from you one day…

Let them bring me to you…

But when they bury me They shouldn’t say I died They should say I am sleeping in your arms My sweet İzmir…

Jewish Hospital The foundations of Karataş Hospital were laid in 1827. It was built to heal Jewish citizens who had infectious diseases. When infectious diseases lessened 10 years later, the hospital became open to all minorities. The hospital, which was closed for a while, was reopened thanks to donations from Nesim Levi, whose bust remains at the entrance of the hospital. The hospital became a foundation in the 1920’s and began to accept patients from all over Turkey. A delivery unit was added to the hospital in 1950. In 1962, the Hospice became a part of the hospital. An interesting event occurred when a new building was needed for the hospital. When Yolanda Fercken was murdered by her husband in 1985, her will revealed that she had donated a some of her estate to the hospital. The new building was constructed and opened in 1988.


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Hoşgör Turkish Bath The construction date of the bath is unknown but it resembles the baths built in the 14th and 18th centuries. The structure is supported by a natural rock block. Entrance to the bath is from the west. The locker room, warm room and hot rooms are also in the west. The locker room is bigger than the hot room. Access to the locker room is via a staircase that is covered with marble plaques on both sides. It is covered with a wooden roof while the hot room is covered with a dome. There is an octagonal marble pool in the middle of the locker room which boasts a three tier fountain, also made from marble. All the original details have been protected in the bath which has a cold and hot water storage. The restorations have been careful not to disturb the structure’s original state.

Karataş High School It is a school that has the best sea view in İzmir. The school was built in 1887 by an Armenian citizen named Balyazoğlu. The building was allocated to the Girl’s School in 1922 by the order of the Cabinet. In 1927, the Middle School was opened with 5 classrooms. 5 years later girls continued to the high school while only boys studied in the middle school. When the school neared 100 years, the old building was demolished and a new and modern building was constructed. The school turned into a co-ed school in 1972 since there was no other high school in the neighborhood.

A Republic Museum in Karataş The structure, which is actually called İzmir Cumhuriyet Educational Museum, Turkish Educational History and Technology Museum, is one of the oldest buildings in Karataş. It is an important structure not only for Karataş but for İzmir. When Armenians who fled their country in 1605 came to İzmir, they started settling in Karataş in 1800’s. They established the Surp Garabet Church at the spot where Kemal Reis elementary School is located today, along with the Vartanyan Elementary School for the education of Armenian kids. Orphaned Armenian kids also studied in this school. Even though the school survived until the first years of the Republic era, it closed after Armenian population dwindled. This structure which was registered by the Ministry of Education in 1934 is a unique building with its history and architecture.

A piano and a map at the entrance of the museum which attracts attention with its stone walls, wooden ceiling and architecture. You will be greeted by Atatürk and the historical piano in the room on the left which was first played in this school in 1881. The same room boasts a map of Turkey drawn in 1927 in the Ottoman language. The city of Hatay isn’t even in the map and the Aegean Sea isn’t mentioned. At that time, only the Mediterranean was known.

In the second room on the left there is a desk and chair where Atatürk sat after he attended a math class in the school. Historically important diplomas adorn the walls in this room. The first room on the right boasts never before seen pictures of Atatürk while the second room is empty. The two rooms on the first floor are used by the orderlies and they also include a few salvaged artifacts. One room exhibits the Ideal Village Plan created by former Governor Kazım Paşa in 1934 .

There are two rooms on the ground floor and the bigger one has classroom items in it. The rolls include scenes from the Gallipoli War, celebrations on September 9, Atatürk’s speech during the opening of the senate in 1936, movies and various documentaries. The film that includes Atatürk’s famous 10th Anniversary Speech filmed by the Russians with a single cable is part of the collection. The museum has closed despite a planned restoration project and are waiting for the reconstruction of the 200-year-old building.