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Kazimierz district for many years was a forgotten part of the Kraków’s centre associated with hovels, abandoned houses and ruins. However, after the fall of communism, it began to come back to life. Among others, Jewish Culture Festival, Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List, as well as fashion for Jewish art and culture started a new era for the district making it bohemian center of life. Nowadays, there are almost 300 utility objects in Kazimierz such as pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, hostels and cultural points. The number of inhabitants decreased significantly, while tourism flourishes. Pogórze district on the other hand thanks to its closeness and multitude of connections with former Jewish Kazimierz district also started to enjoy parts of its tourist glamours. It also has its dark history. Here the Nazi Germans herded some 16,000 Jews into a ghetto before sending them off to concentration camps. The most important sights recall these events. Discover this enchanted area with ITS Poland DMC. 

 

Kazimierz district is a part of Krakow’s Old Town. From the founding in the 14th century until the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, it was an independent city, located in the south of Krakow and separated from it by the no longer existing branch of the Vistula (Polish Wisła) river. Its north-eastern part was occupied by the Jewish quarter. For many centuries, Kazimierz was a place of coexistence and interpenetration of Jewish and Christian cultures. Unfortunately, WWII dramatically stopped this situation. Currently, it is one of the most important tourist attractions in Krakow, it is also one of the centers of the city's cultural life.

 

The most important attractions of Kazimierz and Podgórze districts are of course connected with Jewish culture and include:

 

Some Catholic attractions include:

 

Secular attractions:

 

Below you will find descriptions of top 5 attractions of Kazimierz and Podgórze Districts:

The Old Synagogue

It is currently a branch of Kraków City’s Museum and is situated in the very heart of Kraków’s Kazimierz at 24 Szeroka Street. It is one of the oldest buildings of this type in Poland and in Europe. It was built in the second half of the 15th century. Unfortunately, during its history it has burnt a few times. Still, the most tragic period was of course the World War II, when the Nazis devastated the building completely. It wasn’t rebuilt till 1956 when it regained its Gothic-Renaissance look. Nowadays, the museum presents Jewish, religious items in three major exhibitions: the synagogue, holidays and ceremonies and private and family life. The synagogue can be visited individually or with a guide. When you visit Kraków’s Kazimierz you just cannot omit this place.

Remuh Synagogue

It is the only active synagogue in Krakow. The synagogue is situated in the old Jewish Kraków district – Kazimierz, at 40 Szeroka Street. The building was erected in the Renaissance style. It is the only synagogue in the city which has regular religious services and it is the second oldest synagogue in Kraków. Remuh with its cemetery are a unique Jewish, architecture complex from the 16th century. The construction of the synagogue started in 1558 in the place of a former wooden building which had burned. The building was rebuilt many times. Unfortunately, during World War II the synagogue was deeply devastated and its interior design was stolen. After the war it was reopened for the believers and from time to time some conservation works are performed. At adjoining Jewish cemetery there are precious Matzewahs from the 16th and 18th century.

Tempel Synagogue

It  is situated at 24 Miodowa Street, which is only 500 meters from the Old Synagogue at Szeroka Street. It is one of 4 synagogues in Kraków but services aren’t held hear on regular basis. The building was erected in 1860-1862 in a rectangle shape in a Mauritanian-Renaissance style. Later on the synagogue was rebuilt twice in 1883 and 1924. During World War II the Nazis devastated the building. After the war it become the synagogue again and regular services were held here up till 1968. In 1994-2000 the synagogue was thoroughly rebuilt and it currently has lavish decorations. Tempel is not only a religious site but also Jewish heritage and culture center. Nowadays, it is a place of meetings and concerts, as it can host an event for a few hundred people.

Schindler’s Factory Museum

The factory is a part of National Museum in Kraków and shows exhibition devoted to World War II. The place itself was popularized by 1993 film “Schinler’s List” by Stephen Spielberg picturing Oskar Schindler saving Jews during World War II. Tourists who come here from all around the world may see the exhibition “Cracow – times of occupation 1939-1945”. It tells the story of Polish, Jewish and German citizens in the occupied Cracow during World War II. As the exhibition uses new ways of presenting historical materials it is very interesting and the museum is exceedingly popular among Kraków tourists.

Jewish cuisine and music

A themed dining is always a good choice when visiting another city or country. It is an amazing opportunity to first-hand experience some of the tradition and culture of the region. And there is no better way than to have an authentic and tasty meal while enjoying a local band. An evening with live Klezmer music and Jewish cuisine will almost directly transfer you to the beginning of 20th century giving you insight into the Jewish culture of the old days. Our tourist groups really enjoy Klezmer Hois and Ariel live concerts and meals and also delicious modern Jewish cuisine in Hamsa restaurant.

 

Summing up, Krakow Kazimierz district and parts of Podgórze truly deserve their popularity among tourists visiting Kraków. It is also probably true to say that they heydays are current times and not Kazimir the Great or Jagiellonian period. No Kraków tour should omit this part of the city both during a day and at night time when tourists can enjoy numerous restaurants, clubs and pubs.  

 

 

Author: Agnieszka Szwedzińska

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