Jewish Quarter Walking Tour, Amsterdam (Self Guided)

Amsterdam has been the center of the Dutch Jewish community for the last four centuries, and although the holocaust had a dramatic effect on it, great efforts have been made to rebuild it in the years since. Wandering around the Jewish Quarter will give you an insight into the centuries-long history of the Jewish community of Amsterdam and the Netherlands.
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Jewish Quarter Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Jewish Quarter Walking Tour
Guide Location: Netherlands » Amsterdam (See other walking tours in Amsterdam)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km
Author: clare
Rembrandt House Museum

1) Rembrandt House Museum (must see)

Rembrandt was a Dutch painter who is considered as one of the most important artists in the Golden Dutch Era in the midst of the 17th century. The Dutch Empire enjoyed maximum power and fame in this period. Among the various talents that Rembrandt possessed, he was an exceptional painter and specialized in portraits, self-portraits, war, and biblical scenes. His work comprises over 300 pieces in the form of paintings, sketches, etching, and drawings.

Standing modestly on the Jodenbreestraat is the house that once served as home to one of the most renowned painters and etcher in Dutch history- Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. Now converted into a museum, the house was bought by the painter in 1639 and has stood witness to some of Rembrandt’s masterpieces.

Constructed in 1607, the structure housed many artists and merchants. However, it was not until 1639, that Rembrandt purchased the mansion for himself. He lived in the mansion for almost two decades and it is within these walls that Rembrandt was commissioned to make his magnum opus, 'The Night Watch'.

The museum offers a glimpse into the artist’s daily lifestyle, with the furniture and ambiance maintained within the rooms. On display, one can find a vast collection of Rembrandt's etches, paintings and drawings.

Why You Should Visit:
A home, a studio, a museum, and a great insight into the master and the extremes of his life.
Great if you want to fill 30-60 minutes.

Reserve some time to step into the little shop inside the museum.
You can find some really nice, good quality souvenirs at reasonable prices, and most likely, you will want to buy something for yourself!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
Gassan Diamonds

2) Gassan Diamonds

Gassan Diamonds is a family-owned business located in a beautifully restored diamond factory within the Jewish quarter. The company is billed as one of the leaders of local diamond industry. The historic diamond factory serves as a tourist attraction as well. Here you can not only buy diamonds, but also find out how the diamonds are cut and polished. Gassan is open Monday through Sunday between 9:00 am - 5:30 pm.
Waterlooplein Flea Market

3) Waterlooplein Flea Market (must see)

No trip to a city is complete without a visit to the local bazaars and markets of the place. The Waterlooplein Flea Market is one such destination you cannot afford to miss. One of the most interesting places in Amsterdam, the Waterlooplein Flea Market is also one of the oldest markets in the city. If you have the patience, you can find almost anything under the sun here. From the trendiest attires to old military uniforms; from jewelry, antiques and electronics to getting yourself a great deal on a tattoo - there is nothing this flea market doesn’t have.

Built in the early 19th century, the market was then a renowned Jewish market. It ran successfully up until the Second World War which brought along banishment of the Jews. However, after the War, the market was revived and thenceforth has been a popular pit stop for tourists and locals alike. The market is crude and gives you the perfect bazaar feel. You can shop, haggle or just look around the various items on display.

With over 300 stalls, the Flea Market is very large to browse through quickly and with the wide array of items it is difficult to make a speedy visit. So make sure you have allotted enough time for this visit.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place for an afternoon stroll, cultural immersion and treasure hunting (if you have the inclination and patience).

If money-saving is valued, do a walk-around of the market before buying.
Many items (like hats and sunglasses) can be found at numerous stalls and prices vary from stall to stall.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9:30am-6pm; closed on Sundays
Mozes en Aäronkerk

4) Mozes en Aäronkerk

Featuring an immaculate neoclassic façade, this Roman Catholic Church stands in what was once the Jewish neighborhood of the city. Decorated and completed in 1841, the Church of Mozes en Aäronkerk was originally built in the late seventeenth century, undergoing several refurbishments along the years.

Until 1649 the house of Moses stood next to the present building. Beside it also stood the house of Aaron (Moses’s brother). Both these buildings were later combined to make the present day church which is where the name comes from. Initially, the Church lay quite plain and dull, and it was only in 1841, two centuries after its conception, that work was done to beautify the Church. The Façade and interiors where designed by Tieleman Suys Francis, who was known for his Neoclassic architecture.

Many tales are associated with the Mozes en Aäronkerk, one of which explains why the very little was done to decorate the Church and much was done to hide it. Built after the time when Amsterdam was declared a protestant city, great effort was made to hide this Roman Catholic Church from Protestant authorities. In reality the Church was named after the earliest followers of Saint Francis of Assisi. The official name of the Church however is Saint Antonius kerk, or Saint Anthony of Padua.
Portuguese Synagogue

5) Portuguese Synagogue (must see)

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 Jewish community built the Portuguese Synagogue. Also known as the Esnoga, it was designed and built by architects Elias Bouwman and Daniel Stalpaert. Drawing inspiration from the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, the building back then was the largest synagogue in the world.

Today the Portuguese Synagogue overlooks traffic on one of Amsterdam’s busiest streets. However, the Synagogue itself seems to have gotten away untouched by the hands of time. Not much has changed in the design and interiors of the structure since then and one can still appreciate the antiquities and grand interiors that time has no effect on. During service, about 1000 candles light up the entire synagogue.

Why You Should Visit:
2nd oldest Synagogue in continuous use in Europe.
The entrance fee also allows access to the Jewish Historical Museum across the street.

Don't skip going down the stairs to the treasure rooms, which house some of the best artifacts of this type in the world.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 10am-4pm; Fri: 10am-3pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Jewish Historical Museum

6) Jewish Historical Museum (must see)

Located in the heart of Amsterdam’s old Jewish district is one of the most detailed museums dedicated to Jews. Housed between four medieval synagogues, the museum shines light upon the history of the Jews of Amsterdam and their journey to the present day.

Amsterdam was the haven for Jewish community for a long time. Known as "Mokum" in Hebrew, Jewish communities like the Sephardic from Iberian peninsula and the Ashkenazi from Central and Eastern Europe sought refuge and flourished in Amsterdam. Although parts of the same ethnic group, these two Jewish communities had a huge economic divide and belonged to different strata of the society. The synagogues that accommodate the Museum today were first built by the Ashkenazi in the late 17th and 18th centuries.

The Jewish community enjoyed great religious freedom and tolerance in the Netherlands until the Nazis took over the city in 1940. Despite the serious efforts that were made, almost 80% of the thriving Jewish population of the city was sent to concentration camps.

The Jewish Historical Museum is the perfect place to get a glimpse of the triumphs and tribulations of the community. Being one of a kind in the entire city, the Museum has in its possession some of the rarest documents, artifacts, and manuscripts.

Why You Should Visit:
This is the major museum within the Jewish Cultural Quarter, with less focus on the Holocaust, and more on all aspects of Jewish life, and the relationship between the Jewish community and the city of Amsterdam.

A great idea would be to buy the combined ticket so that you can visit the Portuguese Synagogue and the Holocaust Museum as well (you've got 30 days to use all tickets).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am-5pm

7) Zalio

Located along the banks of Amstel canal, near the city Opera, Zalio Antiques features a wide variety of antiques, including ornaments, interior articles, silk flowers, glass and Asian antiques. The owner, Bing Lie Gan, started out by having his own shop in a basement beside the Amstel.

Operation Hours Friday - Saturday: 11 am - 6 pm; Tuesday - Thursday: by appointment

Walking Tours in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Create Your Own Walk in Amsterdam

Create Your Own Walk in Amsterdam

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 Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Amsterdam is the capital and the largest city of the Netherlands. It is famous for its unusual life rhythm manifested in the air of cannabis, coffee shops, the Red Light District and many other elements that keep drawing in people from the whole world all year round. Here are some suggestions on the top-rated tourist attractions of this extraordinary city.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.1 km
Old Side Walking Tour

Old Side Walking Tour

Amsterdam's Old Side or Oude Zijde in Dutch is a neighborhood of true contrast. On one side we have centuries old medieval buildings, churches and landmarks, and on the other hand we have the Red Light District, which is not in fact a district, but an area within the Oude Zijde of Amsterdam.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 km
Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour

Southern Canal Belt Walking Tour

Grachtengordel (Dutch for the Canal District) is an international icon of urban planning and architecture in Amsterdam. Still very much intact after four centuries, the area is known for its small bridges, crossing the canals, and 17th-century homes. Forming a horseshoe around the Old City Centre, the Canal Ring comprises Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals, built during...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
Western Canal Belt Walking Tour

Western Canal Belt Walking Tour

The Western Canal Belt is one of the most scenic parts of Amsterdam, it is where the web of historic canals is most tranquil. Various attractions are found here, from tiny shops and cafes to churches, museums and galleries. Take this tour and see the best sites of the Western Canal Belt.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km
Churches Walking Tour

Churches Walking Tour

Amsterdam's numerous churches are an unique example of architectural diversity. Whether you are a keen church goer or simply interested in the architectural and historic aspects, Amsterdam will not disappoint. Take this tour to visit the most important religious sites in the city.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km
Old Center Gay Nightlife

Old Center Gay Nightlife

Amsterdam is second to none when it comes to tolerance and respect for individual uniqueness. This intimate city is an iconic gay destination and offers a wide range of gay bars and clubs. Follow this tour to visit some of the best rated gay venues in Amsterdam's Old Center.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 km

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Amsterdam for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Amsterdam has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Amsterdam's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the I Amsterdam City Card, Amsterdam City Pass, Amsterdam City Pass Plus, or Amsterdam Pass (by Stromma).

A city pass combines all or multiple Amsterdam' top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Amsterdam hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Hotel TwentySeven, Swissôtel Amsterdam.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Amsterdam, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Amsterdam typically costs from around US$25 up to US$40 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off sightseeing boat calling at all of Amsterdam's major attractions, museums and shopping centers. En route, you can listen in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages and get on and off at any of the stops along the way as often as you like.

- Discover Amsterdam with the taste of beer on a relaxing 75-minute canal cruise gliding past beautiful bridges, buildings and houseboats, calling at the former Heineken brewery for an ultimate cultural experience and a free pint to enjoy.

- Pedal your way around Amsterdam's quirky quarters and picturesque waterways on a guided city bike tour. In the course of 3 hours you will visit the city's eclectic sights stopping at the most notable of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Take a morning walk around Amsterdam with a knowledgeable guide for an insider view of Holland's most fascinating city. This tour will take you along Amsterdam's enchanting canals to its must-see attractions away from tourist crowds. A complete overview of Amsterdam from the ground up!

- Treat yourself to some of the best Dutch and international delicacies Amsterdam has to offer on a 3-hour food journey across the city visiting, among other locations, a typical local market, beer garden, and a family-run restaurant.

- Step back in time to the dark years of the German occupation of Holland during World War II on a 2-hour historical walking tour of Amsterdam. Feel what it was like, learn the story of Anne Frank, visit the Jewish Quarter and other memorable places.

- Visit the infamous Red Light District, once the most dangerous part of Amsterdam, now synonymous with the city itself. See how the area has transformed, over the years, from the dark “gutter” with shady dens of vice to the lively district with welcoming pubs and restaurants.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Amsterdam, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Giethoorn, Bruges, Zaanse Schans, Keukenhof, and Holland’s countryside. For as little as US$50+ to US$180+ per person you will get a chance to discover “Venice of The Netherlands” and the Garden of Europe, visit one of the most captivating cities in Belgium, explore the charming Dutch villages with eye-catching windmills and picturesque canals, acquaint yourself with the traditional Dutch crafts (clog- and cheese making), taste the local pancakes and cheeses, and so much more! For any of these tours you may be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Amsterdam, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minivan to the destination of your choice and back again.