Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam

Portuguese Synagogue Amsterdam The beautiful Portuguese Synagogue, also called the Esnoga, is one of the most important legacies of the vibrant Jewish community in Amsterdam. Until the Holocaust Jews made up more than 10% of the population of Amsterdam. During the 16th and 17th century, many Jews that faced persecution in Spain and Portugal fled to Amsterdam. The religious tolerance they enjoyed in the Dutch Republic was unheard of in the rest of Europe.

For closeby accommodation check the list of hotels near to Portuguese Synagogue.

Admission

Adults: €6.50
65+ / student card / museum card / CJP: €5
Children between 13-17: €4
Group discounts possible.

History of the Portuguese Synagogue

In 1665, the Jewish community decided to build a new synagogue. The new synagogue was to be the biggest in the world. Architects Elias Bouwman and Daniel Stalpaert were commissioned to build the synagogue. They started building in 1671 and in 1675 the Portuguese Synagogue was ready. It had cost the community not less than 186,000 florins. Minor restorations have been made but the synagogue still looks pretty much the same as 340 years ago.

Architecture of the Portuguese Synagogue

The architecture shows the self-confidence and wealth of the Jewish community in Amsterdam. It was the largest synagogue of its time and one of the biggest buildings of Amsterdam. A model of the Temple of Salomon in Jerusalem inspired the architects. Around the main building, there are various offices and archives, the rabbinate, a mortuary and the Ets Haim (Tree of Life) library that holds valuable collections of Sephardic manuscripts.

The Entrance

There is an inscription in Hebrew above the entrance that refers to Psalm 5:8: “In the abundance of Thy lovingkindness will I come into Thy house" and mentions the date 1672. This date is an interesting curiosity: this was the year in which the synagogue was supposed to be ready. Because of the war in 1672, “The Year of Disaster” it was not possible to finish the construction of the Portuguese Synagogue until 1675.

Interior of the Portuguese Synagogue

Amsterdam SynagogueThe interior of the Portuguese Synagogue is of the longitudinal Iberian-Sephardic type. The striking wooden Ark and the Tebah are found at opposite ends of the interior. Seating is divided into two halves facing one another. The women’s gallery is supported by twelve stone columns, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. During service 1000 candles in two enormous brass chandeliers light the synagogue.

Opening hours for visitors

April 1 - October 31: Sunday till Friday 10.00 - 16.00 hrs.
November 1 - March 31: Sunday until Thursday 10.00 - 16.00. Friday 10.00 - 14.00.

How to get there

Parking Garage “Waterlooplein”
Metro 51, 53, and 54: Waterlooplein stop
Tram 9, 14 Waterlooplein stop.

Address

Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam
Mr. Visserplein 3
1011 RD   Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam on the map