Emanuel de Witte: Interior of the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam (1680)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Since the 16th century, a lot of Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal migrated to the Dutch Republic because of its liberal climate. These Jews called themself 'Portugese Jews' to avoid being identified with Spain, which was at war with the Dutch Republic during the 16th and 17th century (the Dutch war of Independence, 1568-1648). Because of the positive influence these Jews had on the economy they were allowed to build their own Synagogues in prominent places. This painting shows the interior of the Portugese Synagogue which was build in 1671-1675. The building was designed by Elias Bouman, an architect from Amsterdam. The synagogue quickly became a populair tourist attraction in the 17th century and even foreign visitors mentioned the building during their visit. The synagogue still stands today and the interior still looks like this painting and is open for the public. This painting is from 1680.