going places: 36 hours in amsterdam: time-traveling strolling

at the jewish museum in amsterdam, i choose up a sheet detailing a walking excursion thru the jewish cultural area which features 37 points (rembrandthuis and the waterlooplein flea marketplace are included) and 12 museums, monuments and memorials. it is supposed to take approximately ninety mins.

i go off to follow lots of the listing – that’s most thrilling due to the fact you go into this historic community in which you almost listen the voices of the folks that lived there, definitely sense their presence. it feels a bit like time journey.

across the road from the jewish museum, that is housed in four former synagogues along with the incredible synagogue, is one of the maximum beautiful and grandest synagogues of the arena, the portuguese synagogue. dating from 1675 (just four years after the first-rate synagogue), this sephardic synagogue is in fact an entire religious complex with the synagogue, information, a mortuary, and a library.

referred to as the esnoga, the portuguese synagogue become designed by means of elias bouman, who had also helped layout the first rate synagogue of the ashkenazim across the street. elias bouman later have become the city’s chief architect. the gigantic building dominated its environment then, as it still does today. when completed, it became the biggest synagogue inside the world, or even centuries in the past, become a traveller appeal (mr. visserplein three, jck.nl/en/longread/portuguese-synagogue)

the portuguese synagogue continues to be used for non secular offerings (it’s saturday so i don’t get to go inside), but on most days you may buy a price ticket to peer interior. it is famend for its fantastic 17th century indoors. there are also smaller buildings in the complicated where there are “treasure chambers” displaying ceremonial objects of silver, gold, brocade and silk. the synagogue also hosts common candlelight concerts.

the tremendous synagogue changed into destroyed within the holocaust (it was restored and changed into a museum in 1961), but the portuguese synagogue became saved seemingly due to the fact hitler desired to go away a trace of the vanished country (i used to be informed lots the identical about how prague’s jewish sector controlled to live to tell the tale.)

the arena’s oldest functioning jewish library, ets haim livraria montezinos, that’s on unesco’s world historical past listing, is also here within the portuguese synagogue (mr. visserplein 3). the library has extra than 25.000 books and 560 manuscripts in hebrew, spanish, portuguese, latin, greek, arabic and yiddish in its collection. a number of the manuscripts date to13th c. (an appointment is required to visit: for a guided excursion smartphone: +31 20 531 03 80; researchers call +31 20 531 03 98).

out of doors the portuguese synagogue is the jonas daniel meijerplain, a square named for jonas daniel meijer who in 1796 have become the primary dutch jew to receive a doctoral diploma. he was a pacesetter in the jewish warfare for emancipation and identical rights (which was won in 1796). there are stolpersteine (small memorial plaques) in the front of homes which can be alongside the square (nos. thirteen, 15, 19) that undergo the names of jews who lived there and were murdered by way of the nazis. (i saw these stolpersteines in dordrecht, as properly.)

within the square is the february protest monument commemorating the strike of the amsterdam dock people on february 24, 1941, to protest persecution of jews. the strike has been followed through protest movements all around the metropolis: in public shipping, schools and in a few agencies. strike movements also occurred in numerous towns around amsterdam and in utrecht. although the nazi management, which invaded the netherlands in 1940, controlled to suppress the strike within just a few days, killing nine of the protesters, injuring many and perpetuating several other ruthless moves, the open protest towards the nazis had the symbolic significance for everyone within the netherlands. the monument represents a striker referred to as “de dokwerker”. the sculpture is by mari andriessen, a sculptor who at some stage in the struggle refused membership of the nazi-led artist union and concealed jewish pals at his home to keep them from death.

my on foot excursion takes me to what was the ashkenazi jewish girls orphanage, which from 1863-1943 was in which these orphaned women obtained spiritual education. inside the holocaust, 80 were deported to attention camps.

the plancius/resistance museum, became wherein the jewish choral society, oxfening baart kunst (exercise makes perfect) changed into set up in 1876; it has been the web page of the dutch resistance museum due to the fact 1999.

the de castro pharmacy is amsterdam’s oldest apothecary (1832). daniel henriques de castro changed into no longer best an apothecary however additionally an administrator of the portuguese synagogue and a tumbler engraver.

the pinto house (sint antoniebreestraat 69), was constructed in 1603, offered by way of the rich jewish merchant isaac de pinto in 1651 and rebuilt with the aid of his son david emanuel in 1686 with the huge classical facade. devastated in twentieth c. and stored from a demolition, it’s miles a public library nowadays.

i visit the walter suskind bridge – fairly nondescript – named for walter suskind (1906-1945) who become the top of jewish staff of the hollandsche schauwburg and in this capacity stored loads of jewish youngsters from deportation and loss of life.

i visit as some of the websites as i will, and subsequently come to the country wide holocaust memorial, which handiest opened in september 2021. it’s the primary in the netherlands to name all 102,000 dutch jews, sinti and roma who had been killed through the nazis for the duration of international war ii. designed by means of polish-american architect daniel liebeskind, the 102,000 bricks, every bearing the call of a victim, shape the shape of 4 hebrew letters that means “in memory of.”

i estimate there are 32 rows of 50 bricks simply named devries. i word some of the names: frouwkevn mandenburg gosschalk, rooje van maagdenburg-frank, maas, magtige, maij – very dutch, with a number of these families i’d guess having lived in amsterdam for masses of years. the name plates seem to move on forever.

of the 107,000 deported to awareness camps, best 5200 jews and 30 santi and roma survived. “a caution for all generations, all around the global and inside the destiny,” a plaque reads.

in keeping with reporting of the occasion, the memorial was unveiled via king willem-alexander and dutch top minister mark rutte.
last yr marked the first time an legit in the netherlands publicly apologized on behalf of the authorities for the battle-time persecution of jews, after rutte admitted little changed into completed to defend them from the atrocities devoted through nazi germany.”

tickets to all the jewish cultural quarter exhibits can be purchased at any of the taking part establishments. adults – € 12 ; younger humans age thirteen -17, college students, stadspas – € 6 ; youngsters age up to 13; loose admission is provided with the amsterdam holland pass, iamsterdam skip, museum card, friends of the jewish historic museum, icom, rembrandt association. tickets to the jewish ancient zone are valid 1 month for a more than one access to all exhibits. tickets to concert events at the portuguese synagogue: € 13.50.

i’ve allotted time to stroll over to the rijksmuseum for my timed price tag, which brings me via more of the neighborhoods that seem up to now eliminated in time and vicinity from what i had just skilled.

the big attraction at the rijksmuseum (i best have two hours earlier than remaining) is rembrandt’s well-known “night time watch” portray (i hadn’t found out it is the scale of a whole wall), and you get to peer it as it’s far being conserved, at the back of a pitcher-enclosed studio. a docent is there to answer questions on it.

on the rembrandthuis, i was informed that this portray changed into one of the reasons that rembrandt went bankrupt – the three benefactors who paid the most for the portray aren’t proven prominently, and that they conveyed their discontent in order that rembrandt misplaced commissions. the docent disputes this and factors out that turned into a decade between the painting and his financial disaster.

by using now, i must get to my covid19 test that i scheduled, so i get to find out extra neighborhoods. as it turns out, the hospital is throughout the way from amsterdam’s technology museum, along the side road that might visit the central station. the procedure is extremely green (shortly after, the united states stopped requiring covid assessments inside 24 hours of getting into the united states.)

on the way lower back to sofitel legend grand amsterdam motel, i discover myself walking via the red light district, jam-packed with humans. here you can additionally visit museums to erotica, prostitution, diverse peep suggests and museums committed to hash, marijuana and hemp . even the public rest room is titillatingly referred to as the “horny bathroom.”

you furthermore may find posters at the bridges warning of fines for peeing within the canal or taking alcohol out of the district, and as the night grows later, increasingly police presence.


the subsequent morning, earlier than i must get to the airport (and after taking part in a remarkable breakfast at the inn), i tour gassan diamonds, a ancient location which had outstanding importance in the jewish region.

first of all, jews were no longer approved into amsterdam’s guilds, so the most effective occupations that had been open to them have been road trading (hence the massive flea market at waterlooplein), finance, ebook printing and diamond reducing. in the nineteenth century many jews worked within the flourishing diamond alternate and industry.

a painting in the jewish museum indicates a road scene within the antique jewish area, noting that in the nineteenth century “artists advanced a fascination for the picturesque nature of the old jewish area of amsterdam.” a road scene painted by using eduard hilverdink (1846-1891) in 1889 suggests the hustle and bustle of the working-magnificence community. “dwelling conditions had stepped forward barely for the jewish population on the give up of the century, in part due to the upturn in the diamond enterprise. the smoking chimney of a diamond manufacturing facility in the background can be interpreted as a image of progress.”

amsterdam has been famous for its diamonds for the reason that sixteenth century, and after four hundred years, the town remains seemed as a diamond trading center of the arena. the popular exceptional-reduce with 57 aspects which changed into advanced in amsterdam is known as the “amsterdam-cut”.

there are about a dozen diamond factories in amsterdam left, five which offer guided tours.

gassan diamonds has played a pivotal function in amsterdam’s diamond history, as well as in jewish life in amsterdam. the diamond manufacturing facility became built in 1879 through the boas brothers, and at the time was the most important diamond factory in europe.

it became close down at some stage in international warfare ii, and resurrected through samuel gassan, whose father honestly labored there as a diamond cutter.

samuel gassan stayed in switzerland till the stop of the war, have become a captain inside the british navy. working in the repatriation service, he helped children of diamond employees who had lost their dad and mom and who had been held captive in bergen-belsen, return to the netherlands.

in october 1945, having back to amsterdam, samuel, now 35, opened his own diamond buying and selling enterprise, firma gassan, within the diamond trade at the wesperplein. he traveled throughout europe selling his diamonds. 5 years later he owned his very own diamond reducing manufacturing unit on the zwanenburgerstraat.

at the tour, we get to see the diamond polishers at their craft, whilst a guide explains how they turn tough diamonds into spectacular brilliants. and gassan has taken the “amsterdam cut” to a brand new stage, patenting the technique of the gassan 121 diamond – a diamond cut with 121 sides to superb impact.

i’m taken into a room where, even though it is sunday morning, there are more than one people polishing diamonds. my manual explains the three-step process: cutting (phosphorous blade, rotates 6400/min, covered with olive oil and diamond dust due to the fact handiest a diamond can reduce diamond; shaping and raising sharp edges (not glowing but); and 1/3, sharpening with olive oil and diamond dust to make facet. aspects are what make the diamond clean and glowing.

it takes 3 to four running days to put together one diamond.

a outstanding cut has fifty seven aspects (33 on top, 24 on backside), which originated in amsterdam and is referred to as the “amsterdam cut.” but, she explains, gassan (pioneered and patented) a 121-side diamond with exponentially greater refraction.

luna, who i watch sprucing a diamond, has had 3 years experience (it takes years to examine basics, 10-20 years to best, and by the point you are equipped to retire, you are a grasp). a half carat is the biggest diamond she has labored on, she tells me.

all of the rough diamonds that come to the antwerp bourse must have a certificates that they’re no longer war diamonds.

this 1879 constructing is long and narrow as it became constructed earlier than power, so the employees had been established upon herbal mild, and used steam system (you could see the pipes).

in a show case are vintage pieces of glass with names etched with diamond into it. “this turned into a jewish neighborhood and a jewish enterprise,” she tells me. “lots of jews labored right here. during global conflict ii, most have been killed, so we hold the glass with their names. gassan’s very own father turned into a diamond employee inside the manufacturing unit right here. after the battle, samuel received the old manufacturing unit.”

my guide takes me right into a small room to explains the exclusive factors that move into the satisfactory (and rate) of a diamond – carats, colors, clarity, cuts and, of path, the final gassan 121- and happily, you can purchase right here at factory price (and get the 16% tax refunded at airport). ”you could choose a diamond today, pick out setting and it’ll be ready inside 30 to 60 mins – ring, necklace, earrings.” you may additionally peruse the jewellery shop, packed with luxurious items.

gassan also offers a vip tour thru the diamond manufacturing facility and the in-house rolex boutique which includes a tumbler of champagne, a goodie bag and the danger to chat with an authorized rolex watchmaker. or you may sit at the back of the grinder yourself with the diamond polishing enjoy, in which you could practice the final sides to your very own diamond.

gassan diamonds, nieuwe uilenburgerstraat 173-a hundred seventy five, www.gassan.com/en/excursions/gassan-historic-tour

i time it so i get back to the sofitel legend grand amsterdam inn in time for its each day excursion of this fascinating area that performed such an critical role in holland’s records, and now have time for one final stroll via the historical district to amsterdam’s significant station. it’s a hop-bypass-soar at the train to schiphol airport (2d magnificence price tag does just nice), all of about 15 minutes trip.

pre-purchase the iamsterdam town card, which presents get admission to to the city’s main highlights and extra than 70 museums, metropolis-huge public delivery, a canal cruise and bicycle condominium.

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