06 April 2013

Portuguese Synagogue (Esnoga)

The last place we visited in Amsterdam before catching our flight out was the Portuguese Synagogue. Also known as the Esnoga, this is a 17th-century Sephardic synagogue. We visited this for a change, and so after getting through the double-locked entrance (there are two sets of automatic doors, first, the first one opens, and it has to close first before the second can open), we paid our entrance fee, and donned our head covering.

As I am not a Jew, I do not really know what to look for. There was a brochure that described things, and common opinion was that this was a very fascinating place. Although I am not sure I got the same impression. That being said, the impression I got the most was that it is a very old place. Heck, there was no heating. Heating was all provided by candles, and yes, there was no electricity either. So yeah, attending a service in the middle of winter here must be brutal.

Apparently, only men sit downstairs at the nice part of the synagogue. The ladies all sit at the top. You can see the ladies' section at the last picture I have above. And the picture before that shows the mourning section, if someone dies, the coffin gets places at the middle of the room. I guess Judaism practices sex segregation. While we were there visiting, there was a huge Jewish family who visited too, they were all wearing black. And the men had long hair at the side of their faces.

Anyway, I guess that was an interesting visit. After that, we headed back to our hotel, picked up our luggage, and then headed to the airport. That was the end of our Amsterdam visit. Until next time.


  1. Synagogue are one of the only major places of worship I have never had the chance to visit. I have been inside many churches, temples, a mosque... but never had the chance to visit a synagogue!

    1. Zhu,

      Ah, I am the opposite. I've never been to a mosque before. Hopefully that's gonna change soon. :)