WALK 4: Kazimierz

ul. Miodowa, Kraków

Any map of the centre of Kraków stretches beyond the area enclosed within the Planty garden ring to also encompass Kazimierz: originally a separate city, and today a district that provides one of the greatest tourist attractions. For centuries this was where the Jewish people lived.

The key to understanding the current popularity of Kazimierz is its extraordinary and eternal tolerance: this is where two nationswith their two great religions have lived side by side for centuries. This is where the churches of St Catherine and Corpus Christiarose not far fromsynagogues. This is also where, in commemoration of the 11th-century murderous and later repentant king and martyr bishop, the Procession of St Stanislaus proceeds from the castle to the Pauline Church “on the Rock” (na Skałce).

Jews had their walled, autonomous city laid out around today’s Szeroka Street late in the 15th century. Numerous synagogues, Jewish schools, colleges, and institutions developed around it. For centuries it was one of the key Jewish cultural and spiritual centres in Europe.

The main artery of Kazimierz was Krakowska Street, running along a trade route connecting Kraków to Hungary. Thetown hall gracing the city’s Market Square (today’s Wolnica Square) is now used by the Museum of Ethnography, yet the merchants’ stalls are gone. In the Middle Ages, Kazimierz was considered the second most important city in Poland. It was the Swedish Deluge in the mid-17th century that put an end to its heyday, and in 1800 the city became a district of Kraków.

After the tragedy of the Second World War and the murder of the Jews by the Nazi invaders, Kazimierz was abandoned and fell into ruin and disrepair for decades. The transformation of the system after 1989 had a major impact on the development of this section of the city. Thanks to Stephen Spielberg, Kazimierz found its way onto the silver screen as it became the backdrop to the Oscar-laudedSchindler’s List. The Jewish Culture Festival, organised since the early 1990s with its concerts, workshops, lectures, and exhibitions, has also become world-famous. Today it is easy to speak of a revival and the new face of the district. The cafés, clubs, and galleries bring together all those who find the Main Market Square and its environs too“touristy”. Everyone discovers the unique charm and character of Kazimierz for themselves: exclusive hotels and restaurants stand shoulder to shoulder with craftsmen’s studios and little shops of local artists.

To experience this, it makes sense to take a walk around Wolnica Square, then along Józefa Streetto reach Szeroka Street. Kazimierz is also a place specially cherished by the enthusiasts of antiques and knick-knacks. A flea market is held at weekends in plac Nowy: literally “the new square”, which is often called “Żydowski” i.e. Jewish.

In 2010 a foot and cycle bridge replaced the former Podgórski Bridge, blown up during the Second World War. The Father Laetus Bernatek Footbridgeagain provides a connection between Kazimierz and Podgórze. It not only returned sense to Mostowa (literally: “bridge”) Street in Kazimierz, but it has inspired life into the Vistula embankments and streets on both sides of the river.

Date: 2013-06-06 Show ticket
News author: Weronika Dulowska
News Publisher: Portal główny EN
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