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.
"A uniquely personal, educational and moving experience."
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 Red Light District Tour
"Seeing the Portuguese Synagogue was a highlight of my entire week in Amsterdam - I really appreciated [my docent'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 docent will help us grapple with the scope of destruction from the Holocaust, sharing stories and factual information with sensitivity to this difficult topic.
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 walk 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.
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.