A document beloning to Salomon Ben Ezra, who died in 1688, mentions that Muslim Turks prayed in the only existing synagogue of Izmir. The period mentioned in this document is thought to coincide with the period of the Turkish conquest of Izmir and that they prayed in this synagogue since there was no mosque in the city. This synagogue, surviving through the dangers of fire and earthquakes many times, was damaged in the fire of 1841 and Daniel de Sidi had it repaired in 1851. The synagogue originally built in a central plan. Inspired by European synagogue architecture, in the early twentieth century, the Tevah was moved from the center to the sides of the Ehal.
The Portuguese Synagogue is the only synagogue in Izmir which identifies the origin of its founders. It is one of the six synagogues known to have existed in the period of Chief Rabbi Joseph Escapa, i.e., as of 1620s, and is referred to be the largest synagogue in Izmir in that period. Portuguese Synagogue, considered to be the fortress of the anti-Sabbataists, closed its gates to Sabbatai Zvi when his movement expanded. On the other hand, Sabbatai and his supporters entered the synagogue by breaking the gates and chased away the rabbis who were the leaders of their opponents. Salomon Algazi, one of the founders of Algazi Synagogue, was among them. When Sabbatai Zvi declared himself as the Messiah of the Jews and 18th June 1666 as the deliverance day in that raid, Portuguese Synagogue became the headquarters of the Sabbataist movement and a large group of the Jews of Izmir joined the movement. Portuguese Synagogue was burnt in 1976 and restored in 2018, to serve as a social activities center.
Bet Hillel Synagogue was established in the house of the Palachi family. Rabbi Hayim Palachi (1788-1869) and his son Rabbi Abraham Palachi (1809-1899) were the most prominent theologians of the Izmir Jewish community in the 19th century. Both being referred to as the greatest men of the period, their reputation went beyond Izmir and the Ottoman Empire then, causing the Jewish theologues of Europe and Middle East to come to Izmir for consultation. Rabbi Hayim Palachi wrote a total of 72 books all through his life, and of these, 26 books were published. He was awarded the “theologian responsible for justice” in 1861 by the Sultan Abdulmecid. Along with the tomb of Rabbi Hayim Palachi and the Mikveh (purification pool) in the Gurcesme cemetery, Bet Hillel Synagogue is believed to be among the holy places by Palachi’s students.
In 1724, Salomon de Ciaves, a Portuguese originned Dutch immigrant to Izmir, donated one of his houses which had a large courtyard, to be used as a synagogue and ensured the purchase of all the religious books and sacred objects required. He also granted some houses and shops adjacent in order to bring some revenue to the synagogue. At first known as the “Ciaves Synagogue”, it started to be called as the Bikur Holim Synagogue. This new name, meaning visiting the sick, dates to the periods when the basement of the synagogue was used as a hospital during a plague or cholera epidemics, then frequently seen in the city. It is also possible that the said basement was once the Bet Din prison. Burnt in 1772, the synagogue was rebuilt in 1800 by Manuel de Ciaves of the same family. With a central Tevah, ceiling decorated with flower and fruit designs embellished columns painted in green and yellow, this synagogue is one of the most beautiful places of worship in Izmir.
Kortijos (cortejos) were the dwellings carrying the architectural characteristics brought to Izmir by the Sephardic Jews as they migrated from the Iberian Peninsula to the Ottoman Empire. Surrounded by the high walls of a two-storied building, the rooms of a kortijo would be facing a courtyard with a faucet or well, serving like a common guest room.
The Rabbinate building was built with support from the Rotschild of Vienna in 1840. The Rabbinate building is situated in the middle of a large garden surrounded by walls in the street once called the Hahambasi (Chief Rabbi) Street. The Rabbinate, as the name suggests, served as the offices of the Chief Rabbinate of Izmir. Unleavened bread was made in a bakery erected adjacent to the Rabbinate in order to satisfy the needs of the Jewish community of Izmir during the “Passover” holiday. The central library and Yeshiva (theological school) of the Jewish community of Izmir had been located here and all the official affairs of the community were transacted at the Rabbinate by 1930. The Rabbinate was evicted in 1997 and an office was rented at Alsancak to carry out the affairs of the community. Today, half of the roof of the building has collapsed and walls are distorted.