Kazimierz was a city founded in 1335 by Polish King Casimir III on an island on the Vistula river (this is now imperceptible, because in 19th century the river branch between Kazimierz and Old Town was dried and built over). Since the end of 15th century Jews became an important part of Kazimierz' population as they fled Krakow due to 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 nineties, however, a popular annual Jewish Culture Festival started, the city renovated old synagogues, and new cafes, clubs and galleries opened. In the last twenty years 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.
From the Old Town head south with ul. Stradom or Starowiślna.
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, ☎ +48 12 421 12 42 / wew.100. It is located in old tram sheds and on the grounds of former gasworks and powerplant. Inside you can check the history of Polish automotive, public transportation, radio and tv, 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:
- 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 WWII 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 Judaic 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 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 80s it was renovated and now serves as Jewish Education Centre and (since 2007) also for cult 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 due to the fact that prayer room is located on the second floor (this is the only example of that kind in Poland). Third synagogue built in Kazimierz, in Renaissance style. It's still 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 (old Jewish cemetery of Kraków) ul. Szeroka 40. 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.
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).
- Teatr Nowy (New Theatre), ul. Gazowa 21, ☎ .
- Jewish Culture Festival. Ten days 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.
There is a big mall located right next to Kazimierz district named, not surprisingly, Galeria Kazimierz. Over a hundred stores with clothes, shoes, furniture, books etc. Also in the complex gourmet food market Alma and Cinema City multiplex.
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.
- 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. Those sold from windows of Okrąglak building in the middle of Nowy square are considered to be the best in Krakow. In the evenings you will see queues of youngsters who just jumped out of bars for a quick bite. There are other dishes available from the windows, but zapiekanka is the thing!
- Coca, ul. Kupa 3. Very small place with Sicilian food.
- 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.
- Bagelmama, ul. Dajwór 10. Bagels, bagels, bagels, bagels, soups, salads, wraps.
- Fabryka Pizzy, ul. Józefa 34. 12.00-23.00. 32 cm pizzas 20 - 30 zł.
- Marchewka z Groszkiem, ul. Mostowa 2.
- Polakowski, ul. Miodowa 39. Polish dishes served cafeteria-style.
- Ariel Restaurant, ul. Szeroka 18, ☎ . Daily 10AM-midnight. Traditional European Jewish cuisine, not kosher.
- Klezmer-Hois, ul. Szeroka 6. Jewish 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.
- Studio Qulinarne, ul. Gazowa 4. 12:00-22:00. Postindustrial building with one wall opening in summer.
Two biggest clusters of drinking establishments are pl. Nowy and ul. Józefa, lately (after opening of the footbridge to Podgórze ul. Mostowa is gaining momentum.
- 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.
- Cheder Cafe, ul. Józefa 36. Traditional Jewish place. They have Israeli coffee and a Judaica library.
- Les Couleurs/Kolory, plac Nowy. French style cafe in the middle of Kazimierz district. Breakfasts!
- 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.
- Esze & Eszeweria, ul. Józefa. Two bars opposite each other. Great music and decor. Eszeweria has a nice small garden in the back.
- Kolanko no 6, ul. Józefa 17. Another example of Kazimierz style. A bar with concerts and film screenings perfect for an evening drink as well as 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.
- Miejsce, ul. Estery 1. Hipsterish.
- 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.
- Singer, ul. Estery 20. The tables are actual sewing machine tables.
- 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 and the longest bar in town, in future also minibrewery. Several types of beer and whisky and sport events transmitted on few big screens (best time to visit).
This list includes places with designated dancefloors (dancing between tables in bars happens as well though).
- Cafe Kalashnikov, ul. Bożego Ciała 7. Quite big place, nice enclosed garden, reggae, world music weekend parties in the basement.
- Cocon, ul. Gazowa 21. The biggest and most well-known gay club in Kraków, opening up to straights too these days.
- Kitsch, ul. Dajwór 16. New incarnation of the legendary Wielopole club. LGBT friendly.
- 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), ☎ +48 (0/12) 422 3545, 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, ☎ .
- Ester Hotel, ul. Szeroka 20, ☎ .