Kazimierz was a city founded in 1335 by Polish King Casimir III on an island on the Vistula river. In the 19th century the river branch between Kazimierz and Old Town was dried and built over. After the end of 15th century Jews became an important part of Kazimierz' population as they fled Krakow because of antisemitism. The division of Kazimierz is still visible, the western part with pl. Wolnica and St. Michael's Church (Skałka) was Christian and the eastern with pl. Nowy and ul. Szeroka was Jewish.
Kazimierz became one of Krakow's districts in 1791. In 1943 all Krakowian Jews were forced by the Nazi occupiers to move to the ghetto located in Podgórze and later transported to death camps. After the war uninhabited houses in Kazimierz were populated by a poor and sometimes criminal element, so Kazimierz gained the reputation of the 'bad neighbourhood' in Krakow.
In the 1990s, however, a popular annual Jewish Culture Festival started, the city renovated old synagogues, and new cafes, clubs and galleries opened. In the early 21st century, the district underwent a typical gentrification process and these days rents are really high and small galleries and eateries have started to give way to luxurious hotels.
Museums and galleries
- Ethnographic Museum, Town Hall building, Plac Wolnica 1, 'Esterka' building, ul. Krakowska 46, ☎ . Located in the old 15th century Kazimierz town hall. 5 - 9 zł, Mondays closed.
- Museum of City Engineering (Muzeum Inżynierii Miejskiej), ul. św. Wawrzyńca 15, ☎ . It is located in old tram sheds and on the grounds of former gasworks and powerplant. It has exhibitions on the history of Polish automotive, public transportation, radio and television, household and office appliances industries. The museum is well prepared for younger visitors. 5 - 8 zł, Mondays closed, Tuesdays free.
- Centre for Jewish Culture (Judaica Foundation), ul. Meiselsa 17, ☎ . Exhibitions, concerts, seminars and workshops on Jewish culture. There is also a cafe (with roof terrace!) and a great antiquarian bookshop located in the basement.
- Galicia Jewish Museum, ul. Dajwór 18, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM-6PM. The Galicja Museum in Kazimierz houses an exhibition of photographs with explanations in Polish and English. These are recent photographs of locations around Poland associated with the Holocaust. Some are places where massacres occurred; most show old synagogues and Jewish cemeteries with comments about how respectfully (or not) these places are now preserved. The museum also has a bookstore and coffee shop and arranges coach trips to Auschwitz. Tickets are 15 zł or 8 zł with a student discount.
- Jewish Community Centre, ul. Miodowa 24, ☎ . Exhibitions, events, lectures on Jewish culture and language lessons.
Synagogues and prayer houses
Before 1939 there were several dozen synagogues in Kazimierz. After the war most of them were destroyed or converted to residential or public use buildings and their previous function is, after remodeling, imperceptible. Some are still functioning as prayer houses or museums:
- 1 Old Synagogue, ul. Szeroka 24, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Built sometime during the 15th century, the synagogue is the oldest still standing synagogue in Poland. It was ransacked by the Nazis during World War II and was renovated between 1956 and 1959. Currently, it serves as a museum documenting Jewish life in Kraków. Adults: 8 zł. Discounted: 6 zł.
- Remuh Synagogue (Synagoga Remuh), ul. Szeroka 40. Su. - F. 9AM - 6PM. The synagogue and adjoining Jewish Cemetery with the grave of Moses Isserles. Adults: 5 zł. Discounted: 2 zł.
- Tempel Synagogue, ul. Miodowa 24. Built in 1860 - 1862. Reform synagogue that is open to the public. Since it's an operational synagogue male visitors are expected to wear yarmulke and women should dress somewhat conservatively and have their shoulders covered. During the Nazi occupation, the synagogue was used as a horse stable, but was eventually rededicated to its religious mission. Inside, the synagogue is beautiful, it has a monumental example of Aron Kodesh made from Carrara marble and 43 stained glass windows.
- Bne Emuna Synagogue - corner of ul. Meiselsa and pl. Nowy. The building of Judaica Foundation – Centre For Jewish Culture.
- Chewra Thilim Synagogue - corner or ul. Meiselsa and Bożego Ciała. Today an exhibition space with rare, well preserved polychrome.
- Izaak Synagogue (Isaak Jakubowicz Synagogue) - corner of ul. Kupa and Izaaka. Built in 17th century was considered the most beautiful in Krakow, after the war it was a theater, warehouse and sculpture workshop. Since the 1980s it has been renovated and serves as Jewish Education Centre. Since 2007 it had also been used for religious purposes.
- Kowea Itim le-Tora Synagogue - ul. Józefa 42. Built in 1810 and renovated in 1912 (these dates are written in Stars of David put on the facade). Devastated by Nazis the building became residential after the war.
- Kupa Synagogue - ul. Warschauera 8. Also called Hospital or Poor Synagogue as these were the people it mostly served. After the war it was a warehouse and shoe factory, today it is one of the venues for religious ceremonies and cultural festivals, Jewish Culture Festival among others.
- Mizrachi Synagogue - ul. Kupa 18. Built in 1930s right next to Izaak Synagogue. Since the 80s it serves as a Jewish Culture Centre.
- Wolf Popper Synagogue - ul. Szeroka 16. Was one of the most splendid buildings in Kazimierz, devastated during the Nazi occupation. Today a cultural centre with workshops on dance, art classes, lectures, film screenings, etc.
- High Synagogue - ul. Józefa 38. Called "high" because the prayer room is on the second floor (this is the only example of that kind in Poland). Third synagogue built in Kazimierz, in Renaissance style. It's in bad condition but conservators are working on the building. It is open to public and photo exhibitions are sometimes put there.
- Great Mikveh - ul. Szeroka 6, building from 1567 rebuilt at the beginning of 20th century, today Klezmer Hois restaurant and rooms. Ritual bath in the basements, around 40 steep stairs below ground level, can be visited.
- Bożego Ciała Church (Corpus Cristi Church) — corner of ul. Bożego Ciała and pl. Wolnica. Gothic Church erected by Kazimierz the Great in 1340. The greatest Italian artist of the Renaissance, Bartholomaeo Berrecci, is buried here. The interior is baroque with a marvelous, high baroque altar and maybe the most beautiful baroque stalls in Central Europe.
- Katarzyny Church (St. Cathrine's Church) corner of ul. Augustiańska and Skałeczna — Gothic Church erected by Kazimierz the Great in 1363 for the Augustinian Order. There is a beautiful baroque altar and the Renaissance grave of bishop Spytek Jordan inside the church.
- Michala Church (St. Michael's Church). ul. Skałeczna 15. With the monastery of the Paulins, one of the oldest in Poland. The defensive position of the "Church on the Rock" (Skałka) brought settlement already in the 9th century. Bishop St. Stanislaw is said to be killed there by King Boleslaw II in 1079. The garden pond is traditionally believed to have served for pagan sacrifices. Many famous Poles like Jan Długosz, Stanisław Wyspiański, Adam Asnyk, Karol Szymanowski, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Jacek Malczewski, and Czesław Miłosz are buried there.
- Church of Holy Trinity (Church of Merciful Hospitalers) - ul. Krakowska 48. Constructed in 1741 by the Trinities friars in late baroque style, according to a project of architect Franciszek Placidi. The interior of the church was ornamented with rococo stucco decorations and illusion style polychrome.
- Remuh Cemetery, ul. Szeroka 40. Old Jewish cemetery of Kraków. Located next to Remuh Synagogue was established in 1535. It closed when the new cemetery at Miodowa was opened in year 1800. The most notable person buried at Remuh Cemetery is Rabbi Moses Isserles, others include rabbis of the Jewish communities in Vienna, in Prague and in Kraków and heads of Kraków Talmudic Academy. During Nazi occupation the place was destroyed and tombstones reused as paving stones (in Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp). After the war restoration of the cemetery was attempted, but not many tombstones could be found and today only small fraction of the monuments stands again.
- 2 New Jewish Cemetery, ul. Miodowa 55. Founded in 1800 and operational until around 1920 when it filled. Nazi Germans closed the cemetery and sold the most valuable tombstones to masons for reuse. After the war some of these were returned. Today cemetery has over ten thousand headstones, renovated brick mortuary, lapidarium and a monument dedicated to Holocaust victims. Many notable people are buried here: rabbis, tzadiks, Jagiellonian University professors, writers and painters (Maurycy Gottlieb).
- 1 Spółdzielnia "Ogniwo" (Ogniwo), ul. Paulińska 28 (Left staircase, 1st floor). 16:00-22:00. Leftist cafe/bar/bookstore/culture house owned and managed by a cooperative, located in an old Jewish bathhouse (mikve). They organize many events: discussions, film screenings, exhibitions and book promotions. Prices at the bar are pretty low. Books they sell are only in Polish. Cash only. LGBT friendly. Beer: 7 zł.
- Teatr Nowy (New Theatre), ul. Gazowa 21, ☎ .
- Jewish Culture Festival. Ten-day-long festival held since 1988 at the end of June.
- Jewish Community Centre, ul. Miodowa 24, ☎ . Jewish culture and language lessons, exhibitions, lectures.
- ŻyWa Pracownia, ul. Bartosza 1, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Workshops for children and adults on handcraft, like weaving wicker baskets, clay sculpting, traditional doll making, etc.
On ul. Józefa several funny galleries and small shops with hand-made souvenirs are located.
In the mornings head to plac Nowy to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from stalls. On Sunday morning there will be a flea market. Another, bigger Sunday flea market is located next to Hala Targowa on ul. Grzegórzecka.
- 1 Galeria Kazimierz. A big mall located right next to Kazimierz district. Over a hundred stores with clothes, shoes, furniture, books, etc. Also in the complex food market and Cinema City multiplex.
- Lokator, ul. Mostowa 1. Bookshop/cafe.
- IDEA FIX, ul. Bocheńska 7. Boutique with design, clothing, music, etc. Polish designers only.
Kazimierz has a place on Starowiślna street where the best ice-cream in Krakow are sold. ul. Starowiślna 83 (in summer you'll know the place by the queue standing outside).
Try typical Polish street fast food, zapiekanka. "Zapiekanki" sold from windows of Okrąglak building in the middle of Nowy square are the most popular in Kraków. In the evenings you will see queues of youngsters who just jumped out of bars for a quick bite. As an alternative you may go to Judah Square, ul. Świętego Wawrzyńca 16 to grab a burger or maczanka, local speciality in a street food form. Yet another place with food trucks is Plac Izaaka, corner of the streets: Izaaka, Jakuba and Ciemna.
- Bagelmama, ul. Dajwór 10. Bagels, bagels, bagels, soups, salads, wraps.
- Coca, ul. Kupa 3. Very small place with Sicilian food. Ice cream in summer.
- Gruba Buła, ul. Na Przejściu. One of the best burger in town.
- Kuchnia u Doroty, ul. Augustianska 4. Popular polish restaurant with home cooking.
- Mały Śledź, ul. Bożego Ciała 11. Kazimierz outpost of Old Town's bar Ambasada Śledzia. Different herring dishes, bigos for 8 zł, also beer and vodka for 4 zł.
- 1 Polakowski, ul. Miodowa 39, ☎ . Daily 9:00-22:00. Decent quality Polish dishes served cafeteria-style. The menu (in Polish) can be checked on the website.
- Sami Am Am, ul. Świętego Wawrzyńca 27. Arguably the best kebab in town but they serve also middle eastern (syrian) cuisine.
- Hamsa (Hummus and Happiness Israeli Restobar), ul. Szeroka 2. 10:00-24:00. Middle-eastern cuisine: Israeli, Syrian, Moroccan. Funny, bright interior, Eastern melodies.
- Karakter, ul. Brzozowa 17. International restaurant with great reviews. Lunches for 29 zł (Tue-Fri, 12:00-16:00). Reservation recommended in the evening.
- Marchewka z Groszkiem, ul. Mostowa 2. Quite tasty polish cuisine.
- Nolio, ul. Krakowska 27. Italian, they serve also great neapolitan-style pizza. Reservation recommended.
- Zazie Bistro, ul. Józefa 34. French, recommended by Michelin Guide for the price/quality ratio (Bib Gourmand). Reservation recommended in the evening.
- Bottiglieria 1881, ul. Bocheńska 5/LU1. Classy fine-dining with huge selection of wines.
- Klezmer-Hois, ul. Szeroka 6. Jewish cuisine, sometimes live music in the evenings.
- Miodova, ul. Szeroka 3. Polish cuisine with a twist.
- Studio Qulinarne, ul. Gazowa 4. 12:00-22:00. Postindustrial building with one wall opening in the summer.
Two biggest clusters of drinking establishments are pl. Nowy and ul. Józefa, after opening of the footbridge to Podgórze ul. Mostowa is gaining momentum.
- 1 Cafe Młynek, pl. Wolnica 7, ☎ . Great vegetarian food and a cozy bar, very good and one of the few veggie places to serve alcohol in a bar setting.
- 2 Cheder Cafe, ul. Józefa 36. Traditional Jewish place. They have Israeli coffee and a Judaica library.
- Absynt, ul. Miodowa 28. "Kazimierz style" bar which looks like old flat. They serve unique drinks with absinthe.
- Alchemia, plac Nowy. Very popular, they defined the "Kazimierz style" years ago which is so unmistakable that videoclips are being shot there. There are sometimes concerts or film screenings in the underground room.
- 3 Eszeweria, ul. Józefa 9. Old pub with a nice small garden in the back.
- 4 Hevre, ul. Meiselsa 18. Located in the old house of prayer this place exactly presents "Kazimierz style".
- Kolanko no 6, ul. Józefa 17. Another example of Kazimierz style. A bar with concerts and film screenings perfect for an evening drink or an afternoon coffee.
- La Habana, ul. Miodowa 22. A bar with Cuban atmosphere, refreshing beer - juice cocktails, Hemingway's favourite drinks and some light snacks.
- Le Scandale, plac Nowy. A huge selection of drinks with a great atmosphere.
- Mleczarnia, ul. Meiselsa 20. Typical Kazimierz place with chairs and tables found on the attic. Very nice courtyard beer garden in summer.
- Mostowa ArtCafe, ul. Mostowa 8.
- Omerta, ul. Kupa 3. Disregard the mafia theme, what matters is 13 types of beer on tap and dozens more in bottles! Hard to find a place in the evenings.
- Propaganda, ul. Miodowa 20. A tongue-in-cheek preservation of Warsaw Pact-era ambiance, posters, and drinks.
- Sababa, ul. Szeroka 2. The best cocktails in Kazimierz, bar is located above Hamsa restaurant.
- Singer, ul. Estery 20. The tables are actual sewing machine tables, one of the oldest bars in Kazimierz.
- Stajnia, ul. Meiselsa. A whiff of gone times inside, a lively beergarden outside, and a lot of slacking students
- Stara Zajezdnia, ul. Wawrzyńca 12. Former tram depot, later go-kart track where Polish F1 driver Robert Kubica trained as a kid. Now a huge bierhalle with a restaurant with own minibrewery. Several types of beer and whisky and sport events transmitted on few big screens.
- Ursa Maior, Plac Wolnica 10. Pub which offers craft beers from Ursa Maior brewery in Bieszczady mountains.
This list includes places with designated dancefloors (dancing between tables in bars happens as well though).
- Cocon, ul. Gazowa 21. The biggest and most well-known gay club in Kraków, opening up to straights too these days.
- Piękny Pies, ul. Bożego Ciała 9. Third installment of probably the most legendary bar/club in the city, opened at the end of 2012 after moving from Old Town.
- Good Bye Lenin Hostel, ul. Berka Joselewicza 23. It's clean and well-located hostel, but a little on the expensive side. 30 - 140 zł.
- Green Hostel, ul. Krakowska 1, ☎ . 70 - 100 zł.
- Momotown Hostel, ul. Miodowa 28, ☎ .
- Nathan's Villa, ul. św. Agnieszki 1 (In the Kazmierz neighborhood), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Great location, bar, internet, laundry, pool, films, BBQ. 40-400 zł.
- The Secret Garden Hostel, ul. Skawińska 7, ☎ .
- Aparthotel Spatz, ul. Miodowa 11, ☎ .
- Rubinstein Hotel, ul. Szeroka 12, ☎ .
- 1 Ester Hotel, ul. Szeroka 20, ☎ .