Turkey / Western Anatolia

Pergamon (Bergama)

Synagogue Yabets, Pergamon

Pergamon is one of the thirty districts of the province of Izmir. The city lies 93 kilometres north of Izmir. What is now known as Bergama was built on the remains of the ancient city of Pergamon. A Jewish community is known to have lived in Elaea, which was the port of Pergamum in Roman times and, from the second century BC, in the city centre itself.

In Ottoman times, the Jewish residential quarter was located opposite the Kinik terminal, from the Yabets synagogue along Üçkemer Avenue. The Jews of Pergamon had two synagogues, Yabets and the second located on the Kinik terminal itself. The latter dates back to 1862 and was built on the ruins of Pergamon’s oldest synagogue. The building was restored in 1896 after being damaged in an earthquake. From 1898, the Alliance Universelle school moved into the synagogue courtyard. Under the Turkish Republic, the synagogue and its school were demolished to build the terminal we know today. All that remains of what was once a place of worship is a visible wall.

The Yabets synagogue was built in 1875 by Ephraim Bengiat. Gradually abandoned following the mass emigration of the community to Israel from 1948 onwards, the synagogue was used as a hangar. In 2000, a fire severely damaged the building, and restoration work began in 2010. The synagogue was re-inaugurated on 11 May 2014. It now houses an exhibition hall and cultural activities.

Finally, the Red Basilica, located opposite the Kinik terminal, displays the tombstones found in the Jewish cemetery of Pergamon.