Poland: Krakow, the Jewish city of Kazimierz
Krakow, this amazing, charismatic and historic city has so many temptations for visitors that it would be a pity to go there only on weekends. If you have not heard this before – Krakow becomes the capital of bar entertainment. Restaurants, clubs, pastry shops, pijalnie wódky … one establishment next to another, and all are excellent. And when you have enough food, take a look around the city. The Jewish city of Kazimierz, the medieval Stare Miasto (Old Town), Rynek Glowny, Wawel Castle and the Cathedral, the holiest place in Poland. It is all here a few square kilometers, so just to see everything during the weekend.
view of Krakow
This time we will leave Wawel and the Old Town aside, we mention them in the relevant articles. But in Krakow there is another district that is important in terms of history and architecture, and this is Kazimierz. It was an independent city founded by King Casimir the Great in the 14th century to protect the castle and the Old City from the south. Later it was divided into Catholic and Jewish parts – and even today, many years after the destruction of the walls, you can clearly distinguish the border.
Remug cemetery, desires on pieces of paper crushed by stones, supposedly come true
coffins of an old cemetery
For centuries, the center of the Jewish city has been Broad Street (Szeroka Street). There is a synagogue and a Remug cemetery. Their story is connected with a remarkable scientist of the 16th century named Moishes Isserles; Remug was his Hebraic name. In this era, Kazimierz was a major spiritual center throughout Jewish Europe, a larger Jewish community was only in Prague. Crowds of tourists are sent to the cemetery primarily because in all guidebooks it is indicated as the oldest. There are a number of restored tombs and gravestones, but it must be said that the cemetery was devastated by the devastation during World War II, and its present appearance is the result of post-war restoration. If you want to enjoy a quiet meditation walk among thousands of beautiful genuine Jewish tombstones in an ivy sea under the crowns of centenary trees, move 300 m further to the New Jewish Cemetery (55 Miodowa St.).
New Jewish cemetery
There are still seven synagogues in Kazimierz scattered in blocks of three-story houses of the same height of this peculiar region. They are in most cases available, with museum exhibitions. The most famous is the Old Synagogue of 1570, which houses a museum representing the culture and history of the Krakow Jewish community.
lost glory of Jewish Kazimierz
Before the Second World War, 65 thousand people lived in the Jewish region, who, with rare exceptions, died in concentration camps. Krakow is also associated with one specific, world-famous story of the industrialist Oscar Schindler, which was glorified by director Steven Spielberg in the film Schindler’s List. Not far from Kazimierz, across the river on Lipova Street, is the real Schindler factory, whose workers, Krakow Jews, were actors of the aforementioned military history. Today, the factory has a museum full of genuine objects, introducing the true stories of individuals and the history of Schindler’s deed.
Oscar Schindler factory
But Kazimierz itself is not at all gloomy. On the contrary. Restaurants, bars and all kinds of buffets are located here next to each other, and, for example, Josef Street – this is such a Krakow street Stodolni. I sincerely recommend an evening spree at local bars. There is a rule for all eateries in Krakow – you cannot find two similar establishments, each institution has its own charm and tries not to look like a neighbor. And not only bars. Restaurants throughout Krakow offer an incredibly varied offer of national cuisine with quality food at very competitive prices. Everywhere you will also be offered a typical Polish borsch, and the hit of the local cuisine is bigos, food from cabbage and several types of meat, the preparation of which lasts four days.