Cortijos / Kortijos
Sephardic Jews migrated to the Ottoman Empire from the Iberian Peninsula and while migrating they brought along their culture, which developed in those land as well as their traditions, and residential architecture, which was shaped by their lifestyle in that region. They lived in family homes, known as Cortijo in Spanish, or Yahudhane by locals, where a courtyard, which also serves as a guest room and a where a central fountain is placed, is surrounded by rooms. Cortijos were built in Ikicesmelik, the first settlement of Jews in Izmir. One of Izmir’s most recognizable person, a very popular singer from Izmir, Dario Moreno, has grown up in on of these cortijos.

Life in cortijos have blended with Izmir's food culture and served the people of Izmir as "boyoz" and the "subiya" (a sherbet drink made of melon seed).

Family homes or cortijos allowed crowded families to live together in a type of housing forming an inward life. Central courtyard with its surrounding two-storey structure created an intimate residential environment.

Jewish homes, as seen in the examples of cortijo, served the needs of coexistence of Jews who prefer to be discreet by hiding from the society they live in as a minority population.

Unfortunately, cortijos, which date back to the early years of Jewish settlement in Izmir, did not survive to the present day. Only five or six cortijos exist out of 27 cortijos counted in 1982. Cortijos, which were built in later periods, give us an idea about the architecture of this type of housing. All existing cortijos are located in Tilkilik Namazgah neighborhood.


Asansör is originally a French word, which was adapted to Turkish meaning elevator. A special building with a public elevator was built in Karataş in 1907, which allowed easy and fast access from the sea level to the upper neighborhoods on the cliff of the mountain. Asansör is historically related to the Jewish community, as Nissim Levy Bayrakli, one of the wealthy members of the community who was known to be a philanthropist, founded and donated the building for the benefit of the city residents. Someone visiting this area of Izmir will immediately notice the difference in height between the lower neighborhoods along the coast, and the upper neighborhoods on the mountain cliff, to which a difficult climb up the hill of more than 155 steps was necessary in order to reach them. After staying in Paris, where he witnessed the wonders of the first elevators that were built then in the city, Nissim Levy Bayrakli decided to donate such an elevator for the convenience of the residents of Izmir. The structure is like a tower, made of brick, and at the top there is a spectacular observation balcony overlooking a complete view of the Izmir bay. From the balcony, there is also a good view of the dome of Beit Israel synagogue. At the front of the tower, there is a beautiful medallion of dedication inscribed in Hebrew and French, which tells about Levy's activities. The Asansör has become in time, one of the symbols of the city, and the neighborhood in which it was built is also named after it.

  • Asansör


Old Rabbinical Building

The Rabbinical Building was built in the 19th century with the support of the Rothschild family of Vienna. It included an important religious library and a religious school which continued to operate until the thirties of the 20th century. Like most synagogues in the Ottoman Empire, the Rabbinate is surrounded by a wall and a gate, and around it there was a large beautiful garden which was well maintained in the past. The Rabbinical Building served all the needs of the community in Izmir, which was one of the most important within Ottoman borders, and even beyond them, and was known as a religious center where many widely known scholars and rabbis like Rabbi Yosef Eskapa, Rabbi Haim Benveniste, Rabbi Haim Palachi and others were active. The Jewish community in Izmir was divided into several audiences each led by a Torah teacher, and the community as a whole was led by the chief Rabbi, whose place of residence and work was at the Rabbinical Building. Today the building is closed due to its condition, and it cannot be visited because of safety reasons. Due to its unique architecture, the Municipality of Konak has prepared a plan to renovate and reconstruct the building as a structure for preservation.

  • Old Rabbinical Building


  • 1840
  • Not Active

Gürçeşme Cemetery

The most important cemetery of the Jews of Izmir is the historic cemetery in Gürçeşme. A visit here allows a glimpse at the history of this unique community. Among the numerous and densely located tombstones are the graves of important rabbis and prominent persons, next to the graves of ordinary people, rich and poor. The cemetery contains some 15.000 tombstones and graves which give valuable information on the Jews of Izmir. Some tombstones are simple, and some magnificent, and on them appear scriptures in Hebrew, Ladino, French, German and Turkish, indicating the origin of the individuals in the community, and the cultural changes that they went through over time. Many tombstones are engraved with stories about the deceased and symbols of various professions, crafts and desires of the heart. Among them are the graves of Rabbi Yosef Eskapa, Rabbi Avraham Palache, son of Rabbi Haim Palache, and the grave of Rabbi Haim Palache himself, which was a focus of pilgrimage from around the world, as well as a surprising phenomenon in the form of a fountain in which a ritual bath is installed, whose waters are told to be warm in winter, and cool in summer, and which is attributed to the spiritual powers of Rabbi Haim Palache.

  • Gürçeşme Cemetery


  • 1885
  • active