What to see in Kazimierz Jewish District in Krakow
Krakow is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Poland. This city has a long and eventful history. One of the most interesting and reflective areas in Krakow is the Kazimierz Jewish district. Over the centuries, Jews were living in Krakow and had a major impact on the city’s history. Today, their heritage is commemorated in various monuments, which can be found in the Kazimierz Jewish District. This article will give you information about some of the most famous monuments in the Kazimierz Jewish district in Krakow.
Szeroka street is located in the Kazimierz district in Krakow. Since the late 15th century, Jewish people began to settle in the surroundings of Szeroka street. Over time, an independent district began to shape here, which was separated from Kazimierz with its own city walls. In the 19th century, most of the wealthy people moved to other districts in Krakow, while most of the Kazimierz district, including Szeroka street became home to poor Jewish people. During World War II, local synagogues were destroyed, and the Jewish people were displaced to the ghetto in Podgorze.
The house of Helena Rubinstein
At 14 Szeroka street, in the Kazimierz district of Krakow there is the birthplace of Helena Rubinstein, who was the founder of a cosmetics company known as Helena Rubinstein Inc and the oldest of 8 children from the Rubinstein family.
In 1892, young Helena left Poland and travelled to Australia, where she started working in her uncle’s pharmacy. She gained the recipe for dr Jacob Lykusky’s healing cream and decided to produce it by herself and sell it as the Valeze cream. In 1907, Helena Rubinstein opened a cosmetic institute, were she created the Valeze cosmetic line. Currently, the Helena Rubinstein cosmetics are sold by the French L’Oreal cosmetic company.
The Monument to the Krakow Victims of the Holocaust
The Monument to the Krakow Victims of the Holocaust is located at the very center of szeroka street. The memorial stone is dedicated to the memory of the Jews from Krakow, who were murdered by Hitler’s army during World War II. The monument was established by the Nissenbaum Family Foundation and has a board dedicated to the martyr death of 65.000 Polish Jews from Krakow and its surroundings, who were slaughtered by the Nazis. The inscription on the stone was engraved in Polish, English and Hebrew.
Jan Karski’s bench
Jan Karski, actually Jan Kozielewski, was a Polish lawyer, diplomat and witness of the Holocaust. He studied at the University of Jan Kazimierz in Lviv, where he gained the title of Master of Laws and Diplomatic Sciences. During World War II, he fulfilled the function of the emissary of the authorities of the Polish Underground State. Jan Karski was brought to the Ghetto in Warsaw twice to see the tragic situation of the Jews. In 1942, he prepared a report for the London Government.
Today, Jan Karski is commemorated in several monuments, including a bench in Krakow, which is located in front of the Rem Synagogue at Szeroka street.
The Great Mikveh
The Great Mykveh is a monumental located in the Kazimierz district of Krakow at 6 Szeroka street. The building of the Mykveh was constructed in 1567 for the needs of the members of the Jewish community in Krakow. In the early 20th century it was thoroughly renovated and partially changed, whuch caused some controversies. The ritual bathhouse is located in the undergrounds of the building.
During World Wat II, the Nazis completely devastated the building, but luckily, the shape of the bathing pool has survived. After being renovated, the building was returned to the Jewish Religious Community in the 1990s.
The Remuh Synagogue
The Remuh Synagogue is located in the Kazimierz district of Krakow, at 40 Szeroka street. It is currently one of two active synagogues in Krakow and the only one that organizes regular devotions.
Since 1553, a royal banker named Izrael Isserles Auerbach asked king Zygmunt II August for a permission to transform his own house into a synagogue. He gained the permission in 1556, but shortly afterwards, in 1557, a fire devastated the major part of the Jewish town along with the synagogue, which was wooden at that time. During World War II, the synagogue was devastated, and most of the equipment was taken away or destroyed.
The Old Synagogue
The Old Synagogue is located in the Kazimierz district of Krakow at 24 Szeroka street. It is one of the oldest surviving synagogues in Poland and one of the most precious monuments of Jewish sacred architecture in Europe.
The Synagogue was built most likely in the second half of the 15th century by Czech Jews. It was originally a high, two-aisle hall made of bricks and stone. It was initially only available for men. In 1557, a huge fire broke out, which completely devastated the entire building.
After the fire, an architect from Florence named Mateo Gucci reconstructed the synagogue in renaissance style, but he maintained its previous, two-aisle plan.
The New Square
The New Square, commonly known as the Jewish Square, is located in the Kazimierz district of Krakow. Up until the 19th century, at the area of the New Square there was the so-called Libuszhof – a complex of streets and buildings. In the middle of the New Square there is the so-called „Okraglak” – a round building constructed in 1900, which is the location of a merchant pavilion. It consists of two buildings – an inside hall and and a ring with trading points that surrounds it. In 1927, the object was given to the Jewish community, and a ritual poultry slaughterhouse was created here.
The Corpus Christi Basilic
The Corpus Christi Basilic is a Roman Catholic church located in the Kazimierz district of Krakow, at 26 Bozego Ciala street. The brickmade temple was founded around the year 1340 by king Kazimierz the Great. The construction began with laying of the foundations under the entire church and the construction of the walls of the presbytery to the height of 12 meters.
In 1376, construction began on the sacristy, which was located by the northern wall of the presbytery, which was consecrated in 1401. The construction of the church lasted to the end of the 15th century, and the top of the facade was only added around the year 1500.
The Tempel Synagogue
The reformed Tempel Synagogue is located in the Kazimierz district of Krakow at 24 Miodowa street. This synagogue was constructed betwee 1860 and 1862 based on the design of Ignacy Hercok. It was visited only by reformed Jews who wanted cultural and social assimilation.
In 1868, the synagogue was expanded by Teofil Lamyrski. Between 1893 and 1894, the temple was thoroughly renovated by Beniamin Torbe. It also gained a new facade decor, and the interior decorationwas changes. During World War II, the Nazis devastated the synagogue and created a magazine inside. After the war, the synagogue began to organize devotions once again.
If you are looking for a tour that cover all mentioned places check our Krakow Jewish Quarter Walk