Jewish Amsterdam History Tour

Discover the hidden stories and spaces of Jewish life in Amsterdam
From US$410 privately
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Tour Details
Duration
3 hours
Product Type
Tour
Venues
  • Portuguese Synagogue
  • Jewish Historical Museum
Photos & Highlights
  • Explore Jewish culture and influence in Amsterdam
  • Led by a local historian or scholar
Select a date
Tour Description
Since well before the 14th century, Jews have been a vital part of Amsterdam’s social fabric and have left important legacies for the city’s landscape. During this 3-hour Jewish Amsterdam tour with a local historian we will explore Jewish life in this city and uncover how this community has grown, struggled, and shaped the diverse culture of Holland’s capital.

Jewish Amsterdam Tour

 Our walking tour of Jewish Amsterdam will begin with a look at the community’s economic life. On-site visits to a famous diamond seller and the union of diamond cutters—one of the first in Holland—will spark our discussion of how Jews entered this trade. We may also visit the birthplaces, homes, or other monuments of famous Jews who worked in various trades and disciplines, such as the philosopher Spinoza, the entertainment entrepreneur Tuschinksi, or the feminist Aletta Jacobs.

Venturing Inside the Portuguese Synagogue

In order to understand Jewish spiritual life in Amsterdam, we’ll visit both sefardim and ashkenizim synagogues, including the stunning Portuguese Synagogue. Inside, the sweeping spaciousness of this massive 17th-century structure, borne up by enormous columns, marks it as a centerpiece of the Jewish District. With the synagogue’s unique sand-covered floor under our feet, we’ll consider Jewish daily life and social organization, including how Amsterdam’s forward-thinking public policy provided opportunities for Jews that didn’t exist in many other European capitals at the time. (We look more closely at these policies and Dutch progressivism generally on our Introduction to Amsterdam Tour.)

"Seeing the Portuguese Synagogue was a highlight of my entire week in Amsterdam - I really appreciated [my guide's] knowledge."

Marred By Tragedy

Leaving the Jewish District, we’ll turn our attention to the ravages of World War II and the Holocaust, which destroyed the Jewish community in Amsterdam. As we walk along the canals, we’ll stop at the simple, gleaming stone that marks the Monument to Jewish Resistance. We’ll also visit the exterior of the Hollandse Schouwburg, a cultural museum housed in a former theater, where thousands of Jewish children were once loaded onto transport ships bound for German concentration camps. Our guide will help us grapple with the scope of destruction from the Holocaust, sharing stories and factual information with sensitivity to this difficult topic. We may also visit the new Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names, designed by Studio Libeskind and inaugurated in September 2021.

Diary of a Young Girl

As we wrap up our time together, we’ll also discuss the centrality of Anne Frank’s story to the Jewish experience in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. Although the famed Anne Frank House is not included due to guiding restrictions, our tour of Amsterdam’s Jewish sites provides a comprehensive introduction. We’ll emerge with both a deeper understanding of Dutch Jewish history and a toolbox of knowledge to guide further exploration.

Want to linger longer along the canals? Take a look at our Dutch Golden Age Tour, which spends plenty of time there.

Important Info: Anne Frank House

Due to space limitations, guided tours are not permitted inside the Anne Frank House. Instead, they have an excellent self-guided exhibition which we highly recommend you explore independently. We also recommend taking our Jews in Amsterdam tour as a precursor to your visit to the Anne Frank House, to gather historical context.
IMPORTANT: you should purchase timed Anne Frank House tickets in advance to avoid potentially long queues. This can be done here. Please note that tickets can sell out up to several months in advance.

FAQ

What is a private tour?
Our private tours are limited exclusively to travelers in your party. They are designed to provide a learning experience that is completely tailored to you and your traveling companions. Private tours give you more flexibility with scheduling (you decide when the tour best fits in your trip), the ability to tailor your itinerary (we'll work to match the itinerary to the interests and dynamics of your group), and more personalized time with your guide.


Why does this tour not include Anne Frank House?
Due to space limitations, we do not go inside Anne Frank House on any of our tours. Indeed, for this reason, the museum itself does not provide guided tours. Instead, they have an excellent self-guided exhibition which we highly recommend you explore independently. IMPORTANT: you should purchase timed tickets in advance to avoid potentially long queues. This can be done here, as soon as possible (tickets sell out up to several months in advance). We recommend our Jews in Amsterdam tour as precursor to Anne Frank House, to gather historic context. 

If you do decide to visit the Anne Frank House directly after your tour, please be aware that the venue is located roughly 20-30 minutes by car from the end point of this tour. 

Is this tour suitable for clients with mobility issues?
Yes, both the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Historical Museum are wheelchair accessible. However, the streets of Amsterdam are frequently cobbled and can be uneven. If you have any mobility concerns, please email us the let us know and we can ensure the tour is adapted to you.

Where You'll Start
(4.84) 194 Reviews

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She was lovely, inte and informative
Very interesting. Answered all our questions. Informed us of things we never knew. Very personable. We have already recommended her to our friends. This was a great afternoon. I was sorry to have it end.
All of the most rich and historical sites and areas were demonstrated and woven into a most touching narra