The first synagogue in Istanbul was constructed by a group of Macedonian Jews emigrating from the town of Ohri, for which the synagogue is named. It dates to the first half of the 15th century, when Istanbul was still under Byzantine rule, but after Macedonia had already fallen to the Ottomans. Over the next 500 years, the congregation grew to include Jews from Spain, Germany, and Russia. The synagogue was restored in the 17th century. Much of the Jewish community in Balat has moved on to other of the city's neighborhoods, but the synagogue still operates for a much-reduced number of remaining congregants. The most striking feature is the bima, constructed in the form of a ship's bow. The recurring images of boats, seen etched above doorways and windows around the neighborhood, represent the lifeline provided to the expelled Jews of Spain in 1492 by Beyazit II.