Sunday, December 25, 2011

Netherlands -- In Amsterdam, the Dutch Queen attends reopening of the Portuguese synagogue after restoration

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands attended the dedication ceremony in Amsterdam Dec. 20 of the Portuguese Synagogue -- or "Esnoga" -- which was reopened after renovation. She also attended the the first presentation of the synagogue's treasure rooms with many special ceremonial objects.

The synagogue's web site called the occasion "an important moment in the history of this monumental complex."
In January 2010 the current restoration project began. This restoration was necessary because the annexes were in very poor condition and had never previously been restored from the foundations. The aim of the restoration and provision of access was to maintain the Synagogue's authenticity.

Renovation of and rearrangement to ensure easy access to the Portuguese Synagogue is a wonderful and unique addition to the city's cultural features. It will reinforce the cultural and economic infrastructure and make the city and region more attractive for residents and visitors. This heritage is unique, in that it remains a lively building with an equally vibrant community that uses it to this day.

The Esnoga is a pearl for Amsterdam and the Netherlands. In use for centuries, it is now literally opening its doors to the general public. Visitors will be able to view the art treasures, which are maintained according to museum preservation standards, in their natural context. The functional areas will also be made visible and accessible to visitors, who will thus feel like guests in the community. Visiting this historic complex is like taking a stroll through the past and present of a community that has been celebrating its religion and culture for three centuries within these walls.
To see specifics of the restoration, click on the following links:  

Photo from:
The "Esnoga" and annexes

The main building has undergone quality restoration to the gables, the roofs, the cast-iron windows and the sandstone ornaments. The interior of the synagogue, however, has remained in its original state following the restoration. The building will continue to be lit by nearly one thousand candles in the copper chandeliers.

  • Treasure chambers

    Special climate-controlled spaces will accommodate the valuables of the Portuguese Synagogue. In the future, the concealed treasures will be on public display here.

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