Kazimierz is today a well-known and very popular district of Krakow, once it was an independent city. At the time of the early Middle Ages this region consisted by numerous small villages, which benefited from the trade route that ran from Cracow to the South of Europe. Kazimierz owes its name to its formal founder, Casimir III the Great, who in 1335 gave this area settlement privilege.
The strategic location of Krakow, between two bends of the Vistula River provided protection and allowed the city to develop. Kazimierz a settlement just outside of Krakow was a typical medieval town, with regularly planned streets. Its central square was located where today the Wolnica Square is, which houses the Museum of Ethnography. Kazimierz was surrounded by defensive walls with four towers. Outside these city walls there developed many suburbs to Kazimierz, among which the largest was Stradom, located between Kazimierz and Wawel Castle.
In the second half of the fifteenth century, many Jews were displaced into Kazimierz that previously were living in Krakow. This was done to speed up the development of Kazimierz and in turn lead to the Jewish quarters appearing, which eventually evolved into an independent part of Krakow. This resulted in a strong development of Jewish culture with the building of synagogues, schools, universities, and Jewish cemeteries, making Kazimierz an important center of Jewish culture in Poland and the rest of Europe.
It's hard to believe that just before World War II, there lived in Kazimierz about 65,000 Jews, who constituted to almost 25% of the inhabitants of Krakow! At the turn of the century, they had developed this area of the city enclave into their own little corner of Jewish culture. Many of the specific architectures have been preserved until today and can be admired by walking through the narrow streets of Kazimierz. These include the New Cemetery, Temple Synagogue, New Center for Jewish Culture, Isaac Synagogue, the High Synagogue and the Cemetery Remuh. A walk through Kazimierz is a tribute to the former residents, who due to extermination by the Third Reich were taken from their homes, forced into hard labor or exterminated. Their goods and culture where plundered leaving us today only a small part of the greatness they had contributed to create.
Over time, Kazimierz was incorporated into Krakow, as a district. An important step, which was aimed at the integration of this area with the rest of Krakow, was the demolition of the remaining medieval fortifications and the underground canalization of the northern channel of the Vistula River. It is in the place of this channel, that a new street was created linking the Old Town with Kazimierz.
Kazimierz is an exceptional place, in which for centuries, there were Jewish and Christian traditions coexisting together. Despite the numerous damages made mainly during World War II, to this day Kazimierz still retains many magnificent monuments, representing the two different traditions. Among them are the majestic churches, like the Corpus Christi Church, St. Catherine and St. Pauline Church, but next to them, we can admire the seven synagogues, which for years had coexisted in close proximity. Before World War II there functioned at least 90 synagogues within Kazimierz, however today the only active are Remuh Synagogue and Temple Synagogue.
Synagogue and cemetery Remuh:
Visiting hours everyday except Saturdays: 9.00-18.00
Saturdays:Closed for tourists
The Old Synagogue:
For detailed information on opening hours and Prices: http://mhk.pl/oddzialy/stara_synagoga
Open daily 9:00-19:00 except Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
Not available for tourists.
Residence Old Town Centre of Youth Culture
Currently closed to tourists due to conservation work.
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