26/07 - 31/07/2016

Places

Jewish Kazimierz

Jewish Kazimierz

Kazimierz is one of the most attractive parts of Krakow. Today it is situated in the city centre, but in the past it used to be a separate town. It was established in the fourteenth century by King Casimir the Great (Kazimierz Wielki) – hence the name.

At the end of the fifteenth century Jews started to settle down in Kazimierz. It was they who created the unique character of this place. They established their own cemetery there and built synagogues and houses of prayer, which had Talmud schools as well as ritual baths. The Jewish part of Kazimierz became a true Oppidum Judeorum, clearly separated from the Christian one.

This division can be seen to this day. Wolnica Square, a market, is the old centre of the Christian part of the town. The town hall and Corpus Christi Basilica, founded by Casimir the Great, are situated there. There are two other historic churches in the vicinity: the gothic St. Catherine Church and the baroque St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church, called Kościół na Skałce.

The centre of the Jewish quarter was Szeroka Street. Three synagogues were built around it. The biggest and oldest among them is the Old Synagogue. Today it is a museum, where you can see a very interesting exhibition of Judaism, religious festivals as well as private and family life. Opposite at the end of the street there is Remuh Synagogue; one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Poland (and Europe) is attached to it. A little more hidden to the eye of a tourist is the Popper Synagogue and mykwa, a ritual bath. Worth seeing is also a statue in memory of victims of Holocaust from Krakow.

There are many restaurants on Szeroka Street, where you can taste Jewish and Middle Eastern food, and if you are lucky, you will hear live klezmer music. In addition, a unique concert “Shalom na Szerokiej” is being held here every year, where bands from all over the world present Jewish music.

However, the heart of today’s Kazimierz is in a slightly different place – on Plac Nowy. There is a market there on weekdays, where you can buy almost everything from groceries to antiques. In the middle of the square there is the so-called Okrąglak, where delicious zapiekankas are served. In the evenings, nearby bars and pubs are bustling. Each of them has its very own distinctive character and is worth dropping by.

You can get to know Kazimierz with all your senses: seeing the beauty of historic sites, tasting traditional food, and listening to klezmer rhythms. You should come here to feel the distinctive atmosphere of this place.

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Read more - Jewish heritage route

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