The synagogue was designed by architect Elias Bauman. Its construction began in 1671, but stopped after a year for two years, following wars and economic and political crises. In 1674 construction resumed and in 1675 the synagogue was inaugurated.
In the 1970's and 1980's, after most of Amsterdam's Jews moved to the suburbs, there were hardly any permanent worshipers. The synagogue became active only on Saturdays. Although the synagogue is mostly part of the Portuguese community, most of the worshipers are Israelis belonging to the Sephardi communities and Jewish tourists.
A visitor center and a museum on the history of the synagogue can be seen here. Notice the entrance to the synagogue, above which you can see the engraved inscription in Hebrew letters. A verse from a Psalm is quoted here in the Book of Psalms.
The synagogue is built on wooden foundations that stand in the water. In order to perform maintenance work you have to sail the boat under it.
Around the synagogue there are low buildings that create a wall, among them the winter synagogue, offices, workers' residences, the "Tree of Life" library, a Mikveh and Beit Tahara. The buildings form a kind of inner common area, in which a safe and protected playground is built for the children of the worshipers who come here.