Kraków Jewish District is, besides the Old Town, the most famous part of the city. Situated southeast of the Kraków Old Town, it's easily accessible by foot or public transportation. It's bordered by the Vistula River to the west.
Before World War II, Kazimierz was a vibrant Jewish quarter with a significant Jewish population. Let's have a look at what it has to offer nowadays.
If you would like to learn about other great things to do in Kraków, rooftop restaurants, transportation and the city's dark secrets, check out this detailed travel guide.
Kraków Jewish District
A few words about history
In the past, Kazimierz and Kraków were two separate cities which were competing with each other. King Casimir III the Great decided to establish a city close to Kraków (which he immodestly named after himself).
How did Kazimierz become a Jewish city? In the XVth century, there was a great fire in Kraków for which Jews were blamed. King John I Albert commanded to drive the Jews out from Kraków to Kazimierz.
The Jewish community made this city flourish; they played a vital role in the city's economic and cultural life.
In 1791 Kazimierz became a Kraków district.
During World War II, Kazimierz, like the rest of Kraków, witnessed the tragic impact of the Holocaust, leading to the near destruction of the once-thriving Jewish community.
In recent decades, Kazimierz has experienced a renaissance. Kraków city government made efforts to preserve and revitalize the city's Jewish heritage. The district has become a symbol of Jewish cultural renewal in Poland
For me, Kazimierz is one of the most interesting places to see in Kraków.
In the Jewish district of Kraków, there are several historic synagogues, each with its own unique architecture and significance.
Some are active places of worship, and others are of cultural and educational uses, contributing to the district's unique atmosphere.
Here are the most famous synagogues in Kazimierz:
→ Old Synagogue - established in the 15th century, it's one of the oldest synagogues in Poland. Exhibits Jewish ritual objects and historical artefacts. A prime example of Polish Gothic architecture with later Renaissance and Baroque elements.
→ Remuh - named after Rabbi Moses Isserles, known as "Remuh". Dates back to the 16th century. The adjacent cemetery is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe.
→ High Synagogue - constructed in the 16th century. Features a distinctive high roof and beautiful polychrome decorations. Currently used for cultural events and exhibitions.
→ Tempel - built in the 19th century in a neoclassical style. Known for its impressive interior and grand organ. One of the few synagogues in Poland still used for religious services.
→ Kupa - also known as the "Little Synagogue". Built in the 17th century. It currently houses the Jewish Community Center.
→ Wolf Popper Synagogue - built in the 17th century. Named after the Jewish banker Wolf Popper. Currently used as a bookstore and cultural center.
→ Izaak Synagogue - constructed in the 17th century. Features a richly decorated interior with impressive stucco work.
Here's a Google Maps link with all the Kazimierz synagogues marked.
If you would like to learn more about the Jewish history in Poland and visit the synagogues with an expert guide, check out the below tour:
The cemetery is one of the oldest and most significant Jewish cemeteries in Europe. It was established in the 16th century, around the same time as the adjacent Remuh Synagogue.
It was named "Remuh" after Rabbi Moses Isserles, a renowned Jewish scholar and leader.
Many notable figures from the Jewish community are buried there, including Rabbi Moses Isserles, Avraham Yehoshua Heschel and Yossele the Holy Miser.
Tombstones in Remuh Cemetery are known for their distinctive and intricate designs, reflecting different historical periods. Some graves have memorial stones (matzevot) dating back centuries.
Remarkably, Remuh Cemetery survived the devastation of World War II when many Jewish cemeteries were destroyed.
Remuh Cemetery stands as a symbol of the enduring Jewish heritage in Kraków and is an important site for those interested in Jewish history and culture.
For me, a visit to Remuh Cemetery is one of the most unique things to do in Kraków. The Holocaust almost totally destroyed the culture of Polish Jews and seeing the cemetery I felt sadness.
I just wish people in this world finally learned to live with each other peacefully.
Jan Karski Monument
Also, known as "Karski Bench".
Jan Karski was a prominent figure in Poland who played an important role during World War II.
He saw and experienced the terrible things happening during the war, especially the suffering of Jews. He decided to become a member of the Polish Underground and risked his life to smuggle information about the Holocaust to the Allies.
Karski even went undercover to witness the conditions and gather information about the Warsaw Ghetto and even a concentration camp
He met with influential Allied leaders, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, to share what he saw. Karski wrote a book called "Story of a Secret State," telling about his experiences during the war.
Jan Karski received various awards and honors for his courage and efforts to expose Nazi war crimes, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His reports are one of the most important sources of information about the Holocaust in Poland.
Address of the monument: Szeroka 40 Street.
The most distinctive street in Kraków Jewish Quarter. In the past, it served as the main market square of Kazimierz.
Szeroka street is lined with historic buildings, including synagogues, Jewish shops, restaurants and cafés, reflecting the area's Jewish heritage. In the evenings, the street comes alive with a lively atmosphere. The Szeroka's restaurants and bars often host live music.
I think that visiting Szeroka Street is one of the most fun things to do in Kraków.
There are also various events and festivals throughout the year, including the annual Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków.
"Schindler's List" passage
It's a street where they shot scenes for "Schindler's List" - a historical drama directed by Steven Spielberg.
The movie is based on the novel "Schindler's Ark" by Thomas Keneally and tells the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved over a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.
The film had a significant impact on raising awareness about the Holocaust and the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
Address of "Schindler's List" passage: Józefa 12 Street.
Corpus Christi Basilica
The basilica has a rich history, dating back to the 14th century when a small Gothic church was built on the site. Over the centuries, the church underwent several renovations and expansions.
The current structure presents a mix of architectural styles, with elements of Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance styles. The facade has intricate details - for me, Corpus Christi Basilica is one of the most interesting churches in Kraków.
The interior is richly decorated in baroque style - you'll find there impressive vaulted ceilings, ornate altars, lots of religious artworks and beautiful stained-glass windows.
The basilica is open for sightseeing year-round for free. However, visits during the service aren't allowed.
Address: Bożego Ciała 26 Street.
Full name: Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum in Kraków.
The Ethnographic Museum in Krakow has the oldest and largest ethnographic collection in Poland. It consists of exhibits mainly from Polish regions but also includes European collections and unique non-European items brought here by researchers and travelers.
Kraków Ethnographic Museum features a permanent exhibition called "Polish Folk Culture", presenting traditional rural architecture, residential interiors, craft workshops, a gallery of Polish folk costumes, exhibits related to annual and family rituals, Polish folk art, and amateur art. The museum also houses a collection of valuable archival materials and a specialized library with over 30,000 volumes.
The museum's exhibitions are on three floors. On the ground floor, you enter reconstructed interiors of rural cottages, a school, and a fulling mill. On the first floor, there are exhibits related to various stages of life, traditional crafts, and rituals. The second floor features an exhibition of folk art (paintings, sculptures, paper cutouts).
The museum is an interesting place in the Kraków Jewish District, especially for families with kids (there is an interactive exhibition) and history enthusiasts.
It's closed on Mondays. Opening hours: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM. On Tuesdays, you will visit the museum for free.
Address: Plac Wolnica 1.
If you would like to buy a ticket in advance, you may do so here:
Kraków Jewish Quarter is famous for its numerous murals and unique street art. Many consider them the most beautiful wall paintings in Polish cities.
Here's a Google Maps link with the Kazimierz murals marked.
Kazimierz guided tours
If you would like to hear interesting stories and insights, use your time wisely and see important places without wasting time, consider going on a guided tour.
Here are some interesting options on Get Your Guide:
Best places to stay in Kazimierz
If you'd like to stay in Kraków Jewish District, take a look at the below places.
I've found the highest-rated hotels from different price ranges on Booking.com, so that you could choose to best option for you.
Warszauer Hotel - if you're looking for comfort and great design, choose this hotel in the heart of Kazimierz. Besides the location, guests are delighted with the interior, breakfast and polite staff.
City Lights Kazimierz - a perfect option if you prefer to stay in an apartment in the center of Kazimierz. Guests praise the modern interior, cleanliness and utilities
Kazimierz Secret - a nice budget-friendly option. The aparthotel is located 150 metres from the Old Synagogue. Guests appreciate the cleanliness and spaciousness of the apartments.
Best restaurants in Kraków Jewish Quarter
Here are my personal favourite places to eat in Kazimierz:
🍝 Kolanko Nº 6 - I love this place, especially in the morning. They serve a fantastic breakfast in the form of a buffet. Food is beautifully presented, fresh and delicious. They have their own farm on the outskirts of Kraków and they use their own organic produce. The staff is friendly and smiling - that doesn't happen often in Polish restaurants.
Address: Józefa 17 Street.
🍝 Miodowy Piecyk - all I have to say is: the best pizza in Kraków. The only drawback is that they don't accept cards, payment by cash only.
Address: Miodowa 51a Street.
🍝 Zalewajka - perfect if you'd like to try traditional Polish food. I loved the pierogi (stuffed dumplings) and apple pancakes. The servings are big, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. The staff is attentive and knowledgeable about the food.
Address: Wąska 2 Street.
Other beautiful cities in Poland
🌇 Gdańsk - lovely seaside city, my personal favourite. Totally different from other cities in Poland
🌇 Wrocław - located in southwest Poland on the Oder River. Famous for bridges and dwarves.
🌇 Poznań - least famous among these cities but definitely worth visiting. It hides a lot of Polish gems.
🌇 Warsaw - the capital of Poland offering lots of attractions.
🌇 Kraków & Zakopane - 5-day itinerary.
If you would like to visit Zakopane and admire panoramic views of the Tatra Mountains, choose this popular tour:
Hiking near Kraków
If you would like to discover nature in Poland and hike in the mountains, check out the below guides:
⛰️ Beskid Wyspowy - not high but picturesque mountain range within arm's reach to Kraków.
⛰️ Gorce National Park - a getaway, not too many hikers on the trails, lovely views.
⛰️ Pieniny National Park - some consider Pieniny Mountains the most beautiful in the country. Easy but amazing hikes.
⛰️ Babia Góra National Park - perfect for exploring Polish nature. The highest mountain outside Tatras.
⛰️ Easy hikes in High Tatras - a list of hiking trails suitable for everyone.
Hiking in Poland is safe, trails are well-marked and there are lots of mountain huts so planning hikes is fairly easy.
I wish you an amazing trip to Poland! 💚