Jewish Quarter Krakow History
One of the most famous areas in Krakow is Kazimierz, known as a Jewish quarter. From its foundation in the 14th century till the beginning of the 19th century Kazimierz was an independent city. It was separated from Krakow by a non-existing nowadays Vistula inlet.
Casimir the Great in 1335 gave the permission to found the city Kazimierz. Its purpose was to serve as a protection for Krakow from the south. Also, the city got the privilege of holding a market every Friday, which led to economic growth as Kazimierz was situated on the merchant trail that led from the south.
One of the most crucial moments of the existence of the city was resettlement of the Jewish people inhabiting Krakow to Kazimierz in 1495. This relocation happened because the economic and political interests of Polish and Jewish people started to collide and, as a result, several Jews were drowned in the Vistula river by dissatisfied Polish merchants in 1494.
This resettlement led to the development of Jewish culture and tradition in the area. Numerous synagogues started to appear. Kazimierz became a place where Polish and Jewish cultures began to coincide, develop together and mix.
Kazimierz Krakow Historic Buildings
In Kazimierz, there are over 120 synagogues. Before WWII over 90 of them were open and working. Synagogues are built in different architectural styles, like Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, Historicism and even Modernism.
The seven main synagogues: Old Synagogue, Remah Synagogue, High Synagogue, Wolf Popper Synagogue, Kupa Synagogue, Izaak Synagogue and Tempel Synagogue are a unique complex of Jewish sacred architecture. With the other synagogues, they constitute to the comparable collection to the Prague one.
It is placed at Szeroka street 24. The Old Synagogue is the oldest remaining synagogue in Krakow and one of the oldest in Poland. It is perceived as one of the most important relics of Jewish sacred architecture in Europe.
The synagogue was built in the 15th century and, apart from religious purpose, it was constructed with the aim of withstanding attacks. The fortified construction of the temple makes it a rare example of a Polish Fortress synagogue.
Until 1939 the Old Synagogue was fulfilling a function of the main synagogue and was perceived as the religious, cultural, social and administrative centre of Kazimierz Jews.
It is placed at Szeroka street 40 and dates back to the 16th century. The Remah Synagogue is the second out of the oldest synagogues in Krakow, and initially, it was called The New Synagogue. The temples together with the adjacent Jewish cemetery is a unique and essential relic of Jewish sacred places.
Remah or Remuh Cemetery is the oldest Jewish cemetery in Krakow established in 1535 and situated near Remah Synagogue. Sometimes it is called “The Old Cemetery”. It does not function anymore but is open to visitors. The cemetery is a prominent place where Jewish historical tombstones and monuments are preserved.
Wolnica Square and Town Hall
Kazimierz Town Hall was built in the 14th century on nowadays Wolnica Square, which is a part of the former Kazimierz main square. Initially, the authorities resided in the wooden building, which was restored in 1414. The Town Hall was rebuilt several times in Baroque, Renaissance and pseudo-Renaissance styles. After Kazimierz had become the part of Krakow, the Town Hall crumbled. It was renovated only in the 20th century, and the artists and architects tried to restore its original looks.
Modern Krakow Jewish Quarter
Night-Life at Kazimierz
Krakow Jewish Quarter, apart from being an important centre of Jewish history and culture, recently has become the centre of the night-life of Krakow. Kazimierz district offers its visitors numerous cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants. The diversity of the places is so great that everyone can find something suitable for them. The venues are usually open until the late night hours and until the last customer during weekends.
Street art and local business
Nowadays, among locals, Kazimierz is famous for its unique atmosphere and street art. Buildings here are rather shabby but in a cosy and charming way. Walking down the streets, an onlooker has the possibility to encounter impressing and lovely graffiti, which also contribute to the overall character of the district.
Jewish Quarter also houses diverse venues and small shops. Local business here is flourishing. If you are searching for something unusual, unique or handmade, this is a place you certainly would like to visit.
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See also: Things to do in Krakow