The ‘Spanish Masters from the Hermitage. The world of El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo & Goya’ exhibition can be admired in the Hermitage until 29 May. This exhibition draws attention to the broader context of painting in the Spanish Golden Century (second half of the sixteenth and the seventeenth century) and the echoes and continuation in subsequent centuries.
Spanish masterpieces were created during the reign of Philip II, the absolute monarch of a colonial empire who enforced strict rules for Catholic paintings. The period that followed was dominated by artists including Francisco de Zurbáran, also known as the Spanish Caravaggio.
A great many aspects of Spanish history are highlighted in this collection, such as the horrors of Napoleon’s conquest in 1808, bullfighting and Mediterranean pub life. The variation of the exhibition is also expressed in the alternation of Spanish painting styles: Baroque, Rococo, dramatic realism and spiritual minimalism.
Before the Second World War this whole area was predominantly Jewish. For more than 300 years Jews from all over Europe found refuge in tolerant Amsterdam and settled in this part of the city. A rich and vibrant community built up, bringing forth famous scholars, philosophers, artists and a typical brand of Amsterdam humour as well as most of Amsterdam’s slang words that are still in use today. The Jewish Historical Museum brings this history to live and connects it to the future. Housed in a beautiful set of former synagogues it’s a must-see to understand the roots of this part of the city.
For a crash course on the basics of Jewish religion visit the ground floor of the Great Synagogue.
The Jewish Cultural Quarter also hosts a complete and seperate children's museum. With many floors, special rooms and always an array of activities it's a perfect place to visit with the young ones.