Krakow’s Kazimierz is, right after the Old Town, the most recognizable district of Krakow. A lively cultural and artistic part of the city, with a pleasant atmosphere of charming streets, which combines here with a slightly mysterious aura of monuments of Jewish culture, magnificent churches and art galleries. The unique character and decor of numerous cafes and restaurants attract residents and tourists who want to feel the specific atmosphere of Jewish synagogues, customs of Jewish culture and kosher cuisine.
The turbulent history of Kazimierz
In a past, Kazimierz was a separate city on the former island lying just outside the city walls, founded by King Casimir the Great. At the end of the 15th century, the Krakow Jewish community was relocated to the quarter separated by a wall. The dynamic development of the district was interrupted by World War II, leaving a tragic mark on the history of the entire city. In 1940-1941, the Jewish population was displaced to the ghetto in Podgórze. Few of the former inhabitants survived the war and remained in Kraków, and Kazimierz remained a bit neglected until the beginning of the 19th century. In 1978, the district was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and has the status of a historical monument.
Attractions for the weekend and more
Kazimierz awaits tourists with a rich heritage of Jewish culture, intertwined with contemporary cafes and restaurants, art galleries and antique shops. Walking along the atmospheric streets (Szeroka, Izaaka, Miodowa, or Józefa), in which we can feel the spirit of the old days, we find various aspects of the culture, customs and history of Kazimierz Jews. We pass historic synagogues around which religious life was concentrated – the Old Synagogue, Remuh, High Synagogue, Izaak, Popper and Kupa, and the Progressive Synagogue (Tempel). It is also worth seeing the magnificent medieval churches of St. Catherine and Corpus Christi, as well as the picturesque monastery and church located right on the Vistula River, commonly known as famous Skałka.
During World War II, Kazimierz was an obvious target, even though many Jewish people lived in other neighbourhoods at this time as well. Most of the inhabitants were displaced to the Lubelskie voivodeship. A ghetto was established in the nearby Podgórze district in 1941, and a total of about 17,000 people of Jewish descent were subsequently moved there. The ghetto operated for about two years before it was liquidated in March 1943.
The end of the war found the district in a severely damaged state. Kazimierz was heavily destroyed, the Old Synagogue was devastated and the Tempel Synagogue had been turned into a warehouse and stables. Meanwhile, the old cemeteries lay in ruins. The post-war world was a very difficult one to organise, especially since there were almost no pre-war inhabitants or owners of what was left remaining in the city.
In 1978, Kazimierz, alongside the Old Town, Stradom and Wawel Castle Hill, was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the “Historic Centre of Kraków”. It was the first Polish site to appear on the list.
Since that time, Kazimierz has begun to develop very dynamically, with the Jewish Culture Festival being the most important event to be held there. First organised in 1988, it has been attracting people from all over the world to celebrate the richness of Jewish culture ever since.
Urząd Miasta Krakowa
pl. Wszystkich Świętych 3-4
12 616 1360