During the 16th and early 17th centuries, many Sephardic Jews fleeing the persecution of Spain and Portugal sought freedom of religion and refuge in Amsterdam. The Jews settled in an eastern Amsterdam neighborhood which later became known as the Jewish Quarter.
The Portuguese Synagogue, also known as the Esnoge, was completed in 1675. The Amsterdam Sephardic community was one of the largest and richest in Europe during the Dutch Golden Age; their synagogue, the largest in the world, reflected this.
Miraculously, the synagogue survived the Nazi invasion in 1940 unscathed. It is still not known why it was left intact when virtually all other synagogues were destroyed.
The entrance to the main synagogue is off a small courtyard enclosed by low buildings housing the winter synagogue, offices and archives, a mortuary and famous Etz Hayim library. The interior of the synagogue is a single very high rectangular space is designed in the Sephardi style. The beautiful wooden Ark (1744) and bimah at opposite ends of the interior. Original wooden benches were retained. They are arranged in two equal halves, which face each other across a central aisle.The floor is covered with fine sand, in the old Dutch tradition, to absorb dust, moisture and dirt from shoes and to muffle noise.
The women’s gallery is supported by 12 stone columns to represent the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Two large brass chandeliers hold a total of 1,000 candles, all of which are lit during worship services.
Posted: February 1, 2018
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Mr. Visserplein 3
1011 RD Amsterdam
020 624 5351
Hours and Prices:
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