Meet and greet with your English-speaking guide in the lobby of your hotel, from where you will be taken for a scenic walk to the Jewish district. Upon arrival, you will be taken on a guided tour of the Jewish Museum, Portuguese Synagogue, and the National Holocaust Museum / Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theatre).
Four restored synagogues in the heart of Amsterdam’s former Jewish quarter now house the Jewish Museum. Its central themes are the eventful history of the Jews in the Netherlands and their colorful culture. Religion presents Jewish customs with beautiful ceremonial objects.
History of the Jews in the Netherlands 1600-1900 shows how different groups of Jews integrated and emancipated in the Netherlands. History of the Jews in the Netherlands 1900-the present day is brought to life in a display of objects and historical film clips. Other historical and topical subjects associated with Jewish culture are featured in temporary exhibitions. www.jhm.nl
The Portuguese Synagogue
The Portuguese Synagogue is the largest and oldest 17th century synagogue in the Netherlands in its original setting. In the center of the Jewish Cultural Quarter stands the magnificent Portuguese Synagogue. The building is still used as a house of worship, but it is also open to the public, and concerts are held there regularly. The 17th century interior is still fully intact and illuminated by hundreds of candles.
The other buildings in the complex include treasure chambers where visitors can admire a unique collection of ceremonial objects made of silver, gold, silk and brocade. The complex also includes the oldest functioning Jewish library in the world, Ets Haim Livraria Montezinos, which is included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. www.jck.nl
During part of World War II, the Hollandsche Schouwburg (the Dutch Theatre) in Amsterdam was used as a deportation center for Jews. The theatre, built in 1892 as a center for relaxation and entertainment in the heart of the old Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, became a place of grief and anguish. Thousands of Jews were sent by train to Westerbork transit camp, and from there to death camps.
In 1962, the Hollandsche Schouwburg formally became a War memorial, in remembrance of the Jews who perished under the Nazi regime. An open courtyard with an obelisk where the theatre stage once stood has replaced the theatre auditorium. The entrance hall leads into a memorial chapel where an eternal flame is burning. Engraved on a special Wall of Remembrance here, are the family names of all the Jews from the Netherlands who perished during WW2. www.hollandscheschouwburg.nl
National Holocaust Museum
In the museum’s permanent exhibition as well as in other temporary shows alongside a varied range of lectures, debates and other events and carefully-selected educational programs, they show that the Holocaust still affects everyone.
The building that once housed the Reformed teachers’ training college, along with the Hollandsche Schouwburg, together tell the remarkable story of the rescue of six hundred Jewish children, over the hedge that once surrounded the plot of land. A wall stands there today. The children were spirited away from the nursery where they had been placed in captivity and smuggled out through the teachers’ training college run by Johan van Hulst, to the greater safety – only relatively speaking, of course – of places in hiding. In the meantime, the children’s parents, imprisoned in the Hollandsche Schouwburg on the other side of the street – which had been transformed into a so-‐called Umschlagplatz or ‘assembly point’ – awaited a fate of which they as yet had no knowledge, dressed in their best clothes, trying against all the odds to preserve their human dignity. www.jck.nl
From here you will be taken back to your hotel, where you will have the remainder of the day for your own leisure. You will be back at your hotel around 1.30pm.
This tour can be extended by adding the Ets Haim Library, the Anne Frank House and/or the Resistance Museum:
Ets Haim ‘Tree of life’ – Livraria Montezinos library, is the oldest active Jewish library in the world. It has been internationally renowned since the Dutch Golden Age. Established in 1616, it was part of the Talmud Torah school, founded by the first Portuguese Jewish congregation in Amsterdam, as there was a great demand for education in the city’s new Jewish community. www.jck.nl
The Anne Frank House is the former hiding place, where Anne Frank wrote her diary. It is a well-known museum and one of the top sights in Amsterdam. The museum tells the history of the eight people in hiding and those who helped them during the war. Anne Frank’s diary is among the original objects on display. www.annefrankhuis.org
At the Verzetsmuseum (Resistance Museum), the permanent exhibit recreates the atmosphere of the streets of Amsterdam during the German occupation of the WWII. Big photographs, old posters, objects, films and sounds from that horrible time, help to recreate the scene. The background of the Holocaust is visualized to the visitor. This is an exhibition about the everyday life during that time, but also about exceptional historical events, resistance of the population against the Nazis and heroism. www.verzetsmuseum.org