Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue#13 in Best Things To Do in Curacao
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Consecrated in 1732, the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue is the oldest Jewish temple in continuous use in the New World. Commonly called the Snoa (short for the old Portuguese word for synagogue, esnoga), the temple was founded by Jews who were fleeing persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. Tourists may visit the adjoining museum, which houses a Torah scrolls brought to Curaçao by the island's first Jewish settlers, along with other artifacts and Judaica.
Recent visitors said you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate the rich history behind this attraction. Travelers were particularly impressed with how well-preserved the building was considering its age. Many, however, were most fascinated with sand floors of the synagogue, which symbolize both the 40 years that biblical Jews spent wandering the desert, as well as the sandy floors used by secret Jews in Spain to muffle the sounds of their illegal worship during the Inquisition.
Located on the Punda side of Willemstad, the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue holds worship services on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. and on Saturdays at 10 a.m. The museum opens its doors Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and costs $10 for adults. Children 12 and younger can enter for free. Yarmulkes are provided for men for services and tours (which can be arranged in advance). For more information, visit the Snoa's website.
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#1 Scuba Diving
If you really want to see some of Curaçao's best sights, you're going to have to get your hair wet. A fascinating world of delicate coral gardens, graceful stingrays, playful dolphins and even sunken ships awaits you in the depths of the Caribbean. The best way to explore it is with a plastic mask strapped to your face and an oxygen tank strapped to your back.
Many of Curaçao's specified dive sites are accessible directly from the beach – try Porto Mari or Blauwbaai – while others must be reached by boat. The enormous star coral formations of the Mushroom Forest are a must-see; afterward, you can take a breather in the sapphire light of the nearby Blue Room cave. You can also explore the coral-encrusted remains of the Superior Producer, a cargo freighter that went down in 1977.
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