Esnoga (Portuguese Synagogue), Amsterdam

Esnoga (Portuguese Synagogue), Amsterdam

The prospect of enjoying religious freedom is what attracted a significant number of Jews from across Europe to Amsterdam. Over the years, the city has earned a reputation for its tolerance and its commitment to equal rights for individuals of all backgrounds.

The Jewish community first sought refuge in Amsterdam in the late 15th century, escaping persecution in Spain and Portugal to find a haven of religious liberty in the Netherlands. During this period, the Dutch Republic was engaged in a conflict with Spain, prompting the refugees to adopt the moniker "Portuguese Jews" to avoid further complications.

The community thrived, and approximately a century later, in 1665, the majestic Portuguese Synagogue, also known as the Esnoga, was designed in the prevailing Neoclassical fashion popular in the Netherlands at the time, complete with pilasters and a concealed balustrade. Notably, during its construction, it held the distinction of being the largest of its kind worldwide and took inspiration from the architectural magnificence of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.

Remarkably untouched by the passage of time, the edifice stands sentinel over one of Amsterdam's busiest thoroughfares. Its design and interiors have remained virtually unaltered since the 17th century, allowing visitors to bask in the timeless beauty of its antiquities and grand décor. At night, the entire space is illuminated by approximately 1000 candles, eschewing electric lighting.

Why You Should Visit:
To experience the second-oldest continuously used synagogue in Europe.
Admission also grants access to the Jewish Historical Museum across the street.

Tip:
Don't miss exploring the various annexes connected to the main building, including the board room, winter synagogue, baths, office, candle room, mourning room, and rabbinate. Make sure to descend to the treasure chambers, which house exquisite items such as precious 16th-century manuscripts and tapestries adorned with gold thread, among other treasures. You'll also have the opportunity to view books from the oldest Jewish library in the world.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Amsterdam. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Esnoga (Portuguese Synagogue) on Map

Sight Name: Esnoga (Portuguese Synagogue)
Sight Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands (See walking tours in Amsterdam)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Create Your Own Walk in Amsterdam

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Creating your own self-guided walk in Amsterdam is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
City Center Walking Tour

City Center Walking Tour

The inner-most borough and historic heart of Amsterdam, known locally as Centrum, is a tightly woven network of canals and overlapping micro-neighborhoods, each bursting with their own unique vibe and history. Formerly a working-class area, this district is reputed for its traditional community spirit, radical politics and historic brown bars.

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Western Canal Belt Walking Tour

Western Canal Belt Walking Tour

Western Canal Belt is a historic neighborhood in Amsterdam that forms part of the larger Canal Ring, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which comprises a web of concentric canals. The three main canals making up the Western Belt are Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht. They are lined with beautiful and somewhat bizarre gabled houses that were built by prosperous merchants in the 17th century,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Jewish Quarter Walking Tour

Jewish Quarter Walking Tour

The Jodenbuurt (Jewish Quarter) of Amsterdam had been the center of the Dutch Jewish community from the 16th century up until the Second World War. The neighborhood is best known as the birthplace of Baruch Spinoza, the home of Rembrandt, and the Jewish ghetto under the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

Once crowded with open-air stalls, smoking factories and tenement buildings, the Old...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Jordaan Walking Tour

Jordaan Walking Tour

The Jordaan district of Amsterdam is a popular neighborhood renowned for its charming, narrow streets, quaint courtyards, and picturesque canals. Replete with beautiful historic houses, many of which have been converted into cozy cafés, trendy boutiques, and art galleries, this district has a distinctive atmosphere that sets it apart from other areas in the city.

The Jordaan was originally...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Amsterdam's Historical Churches Walking Tour

Amsterdam's Historical Churches Walking Tour

The history of Amsterdam is deeply intertwined with its religious heritage. The city is home to several historical churches, each with its own unique charm and significance. These religious sites serve as both spiritual centers and architectural treasures that provide insight into the city's past.

Our walk starts in the Central Station area and leads you to visit the eight most prominent...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Amsterdam Introduction Walking Tour

Amsterdam Introduction Walking Tour

“Dancing to its own beat,” the Dutch capital Amsterdam is famous for its unusual life rhythm that is manifested in the air of canals, coffee shops, and the Red Light District, as well as many other things that altogether draw annually over five million visitors to the city.

A place where “hipness meets history”, Amsterdam emerged in the late 12th century as a small fishing village...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 Km or 3.2 Miles

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