Portuguese Synagogue, Amsterdam

Portuguese Synagogue, Amsterdam

The option of enjoying religious freedom is what brought a majority of Jews from all over Europe to Amsterdam. The city has over the years earned a reputation for being tolerant and offering equal rights to individuals of every community.

The Jewish community first took refuge in Amsterdam in the late 15th century. Fleeing from Spain and Portugal, they enjoyed religious freedom in the Netherlands like no other. During that time, the Dutch Republic was also at war with Spain. To avoid further mishap, the refugees called themselves Portuguese Jews.

The community grew at a fair rate and about a century later in 1665, the Portuguese Synagogue was built. Also known as the Esnoga, the building back then was the largest synagogue in the world, having drawn inspiration from the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.

Seemingly untouched by the hands of time, the Portuguese Synagogue overlooks traffic on one of Amsterdam’s busiest streets. Not much has changed in the design and interiors of the structure since the 17th century, and one can still appreciate the antiquities and grand interiors that time has no effect on. After dark, about 1000 candles light up the entire space (there is no electric light).

Why You Should Visit:
To witness the second-oldest Synagogue in continuous use in Europe.
The entrance fee also allows access to the Jewish Historical Museum across the street.

Tip:
Don't skip going the various annexes to the main building (board room, winter synagogue, baths, office, candle room, mourning room, rabbinate, etc.), and make sure to go downstairs to visit the treasure chambers, which house some lovely items such as precious 16th-century manuscripts and gold-threaded tapestries, among other things. You can also see a number of books belonging to the oldest Jewish library in the world!

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 10am-4pm; Fri: 10am-3pm

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 iTunes App Store or Google Play. 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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Portuguese Synagogue on Map

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

Walking Tours in Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Amsterdam Introduction Walking Tour

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Museum Quarter Walking Tour

Museum Quarter Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.7 Km or 0.4 Miles
Jordaan Walking Tour

Jordaan Walking Tour

The Jordaan is a district of the city of Amsterdam. It was originally a working class neighborhood, but in recent years it has become quite upscale and home to many museums and art galleries, particularly those focused on modern art. The district is also dotted with specialty shops, markets and restaurants. This tour is a perfect opportunity to see the main attractions of the district of Jordaan.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
City Center Walking Tour

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This self guided walking tour takes you to and around Dam Square (New Side) in the historic center of Amsterdam, whose notable buildings and frequent events make it one of the most popular and important locations in the city, much as the whole of the Netherlands. The walk starts from the Centraal Station and includes stops at the neoclassical Royal Palace, the 15th-century Gothic New Church, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Red Light District Walking Tour

Red Light District Walking Tour

Red Light District is the medieval city center of Amsterdam, known for its canals and narrow alleys lined with old-school bars, exotic nightclubs and brothels surrounded by neon-lit red-lights. While legalized prostitution is the main attraction here, alongside sex shops, sex theaters, peep shows and coffee shops selling cannabis, the area also abounds in historically important sights well worth...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles

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