Jewish District

Kazimierz, now called the former Jewish District, was founded as a separate town by King Casimir the Great in 1335 and named after him. In the late 15th century the Jews who had lived in Cracow were expelled to make room for a new campus of the Jagiellonian University, and forced to move to Kazimierz. From then on Kazimierz was divided into two parts – a Christian and a Jewish one. Eventually, Kazimierz became the main spiritual and cultural center of Polish Jewry. For centuries it was a place dotted with churches and synagogues where Poles and Jews lived peacefully side by side.

During the Second World War, the Jews were transferred by the Nazis from Kazimierz to a ghetto in Podgórze, just across the river. Most of them were later killed during the liquidation of the ghetto or in death camps.

The seven synagogues, still existing in Kazimierz, are an outstanding collection of monuments of Jewish sacred architecture unmatched anywhere in Poland (the largest in Europe next to Prague). This unique on the European scale religious complex was prescribed on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites along with the entire city district in 1978, as the first ever.

Kazimierz is also the site where Steven Spielberg shot his famous 'Schindler's List' in 1993.


Old Synagogue in Cracow

The Old Synagogue in Cracow is one of the oldest synagogues that survived in Poland and one of the most precious landmarks of Jewish architecture in Europe.

The Synagogue was built in the beginning of the 15th century. The original building was rebuilt in 1570 under the watchful eye of an Italian architect Mateo Gucci. Until the German invasion of Poland in 1939, it was one of the most important synagogues in the city as well as the main religious and social centre of the Cracow Jewish community. The synagogue was completely devastated and ransacked by the Nazi Germans during World War II. Its artwork and Jewish relics, looted. Restored (after Nazi destruction) in the 1950s, the building now houses the a Division of the Historical Museum of Cracow, with particular focus on Cracow's Jews.

Synagogue and cemetery Remuh

The Remuh Synagogue and Cemetery is still used by Cracow's surviving Jews and Jewish visitors from all over the world. This is the smallest of all historic synagogues in Kazimierz, established in 1553 by Israel Isserles and named after his son Rabbi Moses Isserles - a famous philosopher and scholar (buried in the Remuh cemetery).
The  adjacent cemetery is unique in Europe, featuring Renaissance 16th century tombstones. The tombstone of Rabbi Moses (1572) is easily recognised by the stones placed on it as a mark of respect. Other tombstones broken up by the Nazis have been put together to form a high and dramatic "wailing wall of Cracow".

Tempel Synagogue

The Tempel Synagogue is a Reformed Synagogue and the latest one in Cracow (built between 1860-62). The façade is triaxial and the extensive interior is adorned with colourful, partly Moorish Revival decoration.

The synagogue was ruined during the World War II by the German Nazis, who used the building as ammunition storage area. After the war, it was used again for prayer (until 1985). It is still active today, although formal prayers are held only a few times a year (mostly during the Jewish Culture Festival, held in Cracow every summer).

Izaak Synagogue

The Izaak Synagogue was founded in 1644 by a chairman of the Cracow Kahal Izaak Jakubowicz. The synagogue has a moralistic Rabbinical legend attached to it: Izaak, a poor man, had a dream about a pot of gold hidden under a bridge in Prague. He went there and found nothing. A soldier that he met laughed at him and told him that he also had a dream of gold hidden behind a stove in a Jewish house in Cracow but that he was not so foolish to go all the way to Cracow because of a dream. And so Izaak returned home and found treasure behind his stove. He became a rich man. He used to say that one can find treasure at home but to do so one has to search far and wide.

High Synagogue

The High Synagogue, on Józefa St., is so called because originally the prayer rooms were located on the second floor above ground floor shops. Built in the second half of the 16th century, this Late Renaissance synagogue was the third synagogue to be erected in Kazimierz.

During the occupation of Poland in World War II, Nazis stripped the interior of all equipment. At present only the stone niche for the Aron Kodesh and the wall-paintings uncovered early in the 21st century remain.

The High Synagogue serves as a Landmark Conservation building. Photographic and other exhibitions about customs and traditions of the Jewish community of the interwar period are staged indoors.

Kupa Synagogue

The Kupa Synagogue in Warszauera Street was built in the early 17th century as a foundation of the local qahal. It is richly decorated with paintings from the 1920's on the walls, ceiling and in the women's section. The depictions include the holy places Hebron, Tiberias, and Jerusalem. There are also Biblical scenes and illustrations to verses in Psalms.
The colorful interior of the Kupa Synagogue serves as an exhibition hall and the venue for musical events.

Wolf Popper's Synagogue

Wolf Popper's Synagogue was founded by a rich Jew called Wolf Poper  in 1620. Popper was nicknamed as "the Stork" as he was said to have been able to stand on one leg when lost in deep thought.  At present, Popper Synagogue serves as the youth community centre with a strong accent on programs and workshops exploring the coexistence of Polish and Jewish cultures.