Walking Tour: Kazimierz's Jewish Heritage

  • Start Judaica Foundation
  • End Galicia Jewish Museum
  • Length 2km; two hours

This walk passes through the heart of the former Jewish quarter and visits several important synagogues and cemeteries.

Start at the Judaica Foundation, a lively culture centre, with a sprawling junkshop downstairs and a rooftop café. Fans of Schindler’s List will want to peek into the passageway next door (ul Meiselsa 15), which played prominently in the film as a stand-in for the Nazi-built Jewish ghetto in Podgórze. Follow ul Meiselsa east to Plac Nowy, the commercial heart of the old Jewish quarter.

Proceed around the roundhouse to find ul Estery. Turn left (north) on Estery to see the outlines of the beautifully preserved Temple Synagogue. The Temple dates from the 1860s in then-fashionable Moorish style. From here, follow ul Miodowa east to the Kupa Synagogue to admire the ceiling frescoes and rare paintings of zodiac signs. Continue on ul Miodowa, turning right (south) at ul Jakuba. Find an opening in the wall, across from Jakuba 7, to see the back of the 16th-century Remuh Cemetery.

Follow ul Jakuba to ul Józefa and turn left (east) to see the beautifully crumbling facade of the High Synagogue. After exiting the synagogue, continue east on ul Józefa to glimpse the exterior of the 15th-century Old Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in Poland. This branch of the Kraków Historical Museum displays objects important to Jewish rituals. The Old Synagogue opens onto broad ul Szeroka, once the spiritual heart of the Jewish Quarter and flanked today by several Jewish-themed restaurants. Find the tiny, but still active Remuh Synagogue and its evocative cemetery toward the northern end of Szeroka.

Exit Szeroka at the square's northern end, turn right (east) onto ul Miodowa and cross busy ul Starowiślna. Pass under a railway bridge to find the New Jewish Cemetery. Its acres of tombstones attest to the size of Jewish Kazimierz. Retrace your steps to Starowiślna, turn left (south) and follow ul Dajwór to the Galicia Jewish Museum. The museum uses exceptional photography to document Jewish life in the region since WWII.

Walking Tour: Christians & Jews

  • Start Pauline Church of SS Michael and Stanislaus
  • Finish Galicia Jewish Museum
  • Length 3km; two hours

Most tours focus exclusively on Jewish Kazimierz, but the truth is the district over the centuries was home to important communities of both Christians and Jews. This tour demonstrates that remarkable diversity.

Start by taking in the impressive Pauline Church of SS Michael & Stanislaus, with its mid-18th century baroque exterior (hiding a much longer history) and commanding views over the Vistula. The most interesting feature is the crypt below the main entrance, which holds the remains of eminent cultural figures, including Nobel prize-winning writer Czesław Miłosz (1911–2004).

Follow the tiny lane east to find the massive St Catherine's Church. This structure dates from the earliest days of the 14th century, when Kazimierz was still a separate town from Kraków. The Gothic exterior is largely unchanged, and the spacious interior is used for concerts and festival events.

Cross busy ul Krakowska and Plac Wolnica to see another Gothic beauty, Corpus Christi Church from 1340. This was Kazimierz’s main parish church. The stark exterior is Gothic, but the interior is baroque, with some early-15th-century stained-glass windows in the sanctuary.

Leave the historically Christian area as you walk east along ul Św Wawrzyńca and into the former Jewish quarter. Turn left at ul Wąska to see the evocative facade of the High Synagogue. It’s inactive today, but has an interesting photo exhibition on the second floor. Wind your way east through the narrow streets until you end up at ul Szeroka, traditionally the centre of the Jewish quarter. Near the northern end are the 16th-century Remuh Synagogue and its adjacent cemetery.

The late-15th-century Old Synagogue – true to its name – is the oldest surviving synagogue in the country. The museum inside is a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków and is a great primer on local Jewish history and sacral objects. Just outside the main Jewish quarter, along gritty ul Dajwor, the Galicia Jewish Museum aims to link the city’s (and region’s) lost Jewish heritage to the modern day through photographs and text.