Art and Culture
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Plantage buurt

Portugese Synagoge

Art and Culture / Plantage buurt
Mr. Visserplein 3

Nowhere in Amsterdam you will find a seventeenth-century monument where the interior has remained so beautifully intact. The design of the synagogue, which was built in 1671, refers to the legendary temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.

The synagogue is still in use. Visitors are welcome, except on Saturdays (Shabbat) and certain holidays. Combine your visit to the synagogue with a visit to one of the other institutions of the Jewish Cultural Quarter (the Jewish Historical Museum or the Hollandsche Schouwburg for example).

The first Jews to settle in Amsterdam since the end of the 16th century came from Spain and Portugal. Initially, these Sephardim were not allowed to profess their religion publicly. In 1639 the Portuguese Jews built a synagogue on the Houtgracht (the current Waterlooplein) that was clearly visible from the street, ending the period of invisible house synagogues. It will certainly have played a role that the Portuguese Jews made an important contribution to the Amsterdam Golden Age with their trade contacts with the countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

In the second half of the 17th century, Jews were allowed to build synagogues in prominent places (while at the same time Catholics were forbidden to build churches that were recognizable from the street as such, see for example Our Lord in the Attic from 1661-1663). The Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue was built on the site where the second “Sint Antoniespoort” was located on the Sint Antoniesdijk until the city extension of 1663. The synagogue did not get a cemetery in the immediate vicinity; as a cemetery Beth Haim served at Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.

The design was designed by Elias Bouman, who had acted as a contractor in the construction of the Great Shoah (1670/71) of the Hoogduitse municipality on the Jonas Daniël Meijerplein, right next to it (attributed to city architect Daniël Stalpaert). The disastrous year (1672) and a heavy hurricane delayed the construction, so that the dedication ceremonies took place only on 10th of August, 5435 (August 2, 1675), which lasted eight days following the temple consecration in Jerusalem.

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