Tourist attractions in Kazimierz district in Krakow attract many tourists who love this city every day. However, Kazimierz is quite a specific area compared to the rest of the former capital of Poland. It has Jewish roots, and thus acquires an extremely interesting, multicultural character. Administratively, it is part of the Old Town District I, while historically it was an independent royal town separated from the rest of Krakow, but now non-existent.
These are just a few interesting facts that we have prepared for you. If you want to be well prepared to visit this place, read our short tourist guide. You will find there answers to the question of what is worth seeing and visiting in Krakow’s Kazimierz, and what are the best tourist attractions in this place.
History of Kazimierz
Before we go to the tourist attractions in Kazimierz in Krakow, it is worth telling a bit about the history of this place. It was established to protect Krakow – the then capital of Poland – against an invasion from the south. It was created under the Magdeburg Law as early as 1335 by King Casimir the Great, and from then on it was also named after him. Over the following years, a town hall, the building of the Krakow Academy, many synagogues, and other centers of Jewish culture, administration and trade were built here.
How did it happen that Kazimierz is now part of Krakow and not an independent city? It was incorporated into the growing city in early 20th century. Kazimierz’s multiculturalism, and especially its Jewish influence, were obliterated during the German occupation, when most of the Jewish population was transferred to the ghetto or concentration camps. At that time, many monuments, especially those of Jewish culture, were devastated and completely destroyed.
Monuments in Kazimierz in Krakow
Undoubtedly, the greatest tourist attraction in Krakow’s Kazimierz are the local monuments, dating back to the Middle Ages. It is worth knowing that this district, along with the strict part of the Old Town and the Wawel Castle, has been entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and is also considered a historical monument. The hugely popular film “Schindler’s List” directed by Steven Spielberg and the Jewish Culture Festival contributed to the popularity of this place as a tourist attraction. As a result, Kazimierz transformed from a mainly residential district into a well-known and popular tourist attraction, which not only Poles, but also tourists of many other nationalities heard about. On the map below you can locate all the places of interest we are talking about in this article.
What tourist attractions in Kazimierz are worth visiting?
The tourist attractions of Kazimierz in Krakow prove that it is a place teeming with both artistic and cultural life. No wonder it attracts so many tourists. Its magic, however, lies in the fact that even if a lot of people are here, it still has pleasant, intimate conditions, allowing you to calm down and rest. Regardless of whether you want to explore the secrets of Polish history or relax during a walk, it is worth visiting this district.
What attractions in Kazimierz in Krakow are worth seeing and visiting? We have prepared a list for you and some of the most important information about the places we recommend. You will find here both the most popular places and the less known gems: synagogues, churches, town hall, Museum of Municipal Engineering, as well as simply streets, bookstores and restaurants.
Also check out attractions for kids in Cracow.
Synagogues in Kazimierz, Krakow
Another famous tourist attraction of Krakow’s Kazimierz are synagogues. Admittedly, religion – be it Judaism or Christianity – pushes architects, founders, and creators to create magnificent objects that, even years later, are a living testimony of reverence and devotion. No wonder that most of the monuments that have survived in good condition to this day are sacred buildings. As Kazimierz was a city at the junction of two cultures and the two largest monotheistic religions, and we have already discussed Christian basilicas, it is time to deal with synagogues. Before visiting, however, it is worth knowing that many of them were destroyed during the occupation, so it is no wonder that they did not survive as well as the aforementioned temples.
The oldest synagogue in Krakow, as the name suggests, is of course the Old Synagogue on Szeroka Street. It is one of the oldest synagogues in Poland and an extremely important Jewish monument for the whole of Europe. It was built in the 15th century as a brick and stone building, but has undergone many changes over the centuries, including reconstruction after a fire. Today it houses the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków – the History and Culture of Jews branch. The exhibition includes priceless collections on Jewish culture in Poland and around the world.
Another synagogue in Kazimierz in Krakow that is worth seeing and visiting is the Remuh Synagogue, built in 1556, with an adjoining old Jewish cemetery, known as the Remuh Cemetery. Together, this complex is a unique complex of monuments of Jewish culture in the scale of the whole country. The Kupa synagogue is also noteworthy, as it hides a delightful interior in an inconspicuous building. It was established in 1643 as the last one during the existence of the Jewish town. It now serves as a cultural center, hosting part of the Jewish Culture Festival, as well as numerous concerts, meetings, and other events. We can admire baroque architecture and art here. Nearby, there is also a much younger, nineteenth-century synagogue Tempel, which is also worth seeing and visiting.
Town Hall in Kazimierz in Krakow
As Kazimierz was a separate city, it also had to have its own town hall. It was built in the 14th century, and is now located at Wolnica Square in Krakow. Traces of the original building from 1414 can be seen on the ground floor and in the basement, but they are overshadowed by elements added later, mainly in the Renaissance style, because it was during this period that the building underwent major changes. Nowadays, since 1947, it houses the Ethnographic Museum, which can be considered one of the most interesting attractions in Kazimierz in Krakow.
What is the Ethnographic Museum? Its collections include over 80,000 monuments. They mainly concern Polish culture and art, including folklore and everyday life, but also other countries in Europe and the world. It is a place where you can feel the multiculturalism characteristic of Krakow or Kazimierz. What’s more, various educational events are also organized here, including quite a lot of actions aimed at children and adolescents.
Museum of Municipal Engineering in Kazimierz in Krakow
And since we are at the museums, it is impossible not to present another extremely interesting tourist attraction in Kazimierz in Krakow. It is about the Museum of Municipal Engineering, which is located in the former depot of the first narrow-gauge electric tram. The museum itself was founded in 1998, so compared to the other attractions we describe, it is quite young, which does not mean, however, that we will not find interesting monuments and objects that are worth seeing and visiting.
When it comes to specifics, it is worth knowing that this attraction in Kazimierz in Krakow collects exhibits on the development of power plants, public transport, technology or municipal engineering, i.e. those elements without which we cannot imagine our life today. We can find here, for example, trams, monuments related to printing, and even Polish cars, radios and TV sets. So if we are looking for an idea to spend a creative and informative afternoon, this will be the perfect spot.
Basilicas in Krakow’s Kazimierz
One of the most recognizable tourist attractions in Kazimierz in Krakow are the local basilicas – perhaps surprisingly, the town had a sizable population of gentiles living alongside its Jewish inhabitants. We find here two temples with the status of a basilica: the Basilica of Corpus Christi and the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel and St. Stanislaus. The first of these churches, the Corpus Christi basilica, is a monastic building for regular Lateran canons. It dates back to the Middle Ages, because it was founded in 1340 by King Casimir the Great. It is a double sanctuary that attracts not only with its religious surroundings, but also with unusual monuments. Particularly noteworthy are the pulpit, paintings by Łukasz Porębski from the beginning of the 17th century, the main altar, numerous sculptures, paintings, as well as the main organ and side organ designed for 83 voices.
The second basilica that is a tourist attraction in Kazimierz in Krakow is the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel and St. Stanislaus, next to which there is also the Pauline monastery. It is called the basilica on the rock or simply the Rock, because it was built on a small hill made of limestone. According to legend, there used to be a pagan temple here, later a Romanesque church, and in the 14th century, Casimir the Great founded a brick temple here. The church has undergone many renovations, now we can admire its baroque shape. We can find here numerous works of visual arts, including a painting by Tadeusz Kuntze from the 18th century, as well as relics and a 17th-century painting of St. Stanislaus.
This attraction in Krakow’s Kazimierz hides one more secret. It plays the role of the national pantheon and the crypt of the merits. The remains of such eminent figures as Jan Długosz, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Adam Asnyk, Karol Szymanowski, Stanisław Wyspiański and the Nobel Prize winner Czesław Miłosz are buried here.
St. Catherine’s Church in Kazimierz, Krakow
Let’s go back for a moment to the sacred monuments, which – as you probably noticed – constitute a large part of the local attractions in Kazimierz in Krakow. One of the oldest churches in this district, which, however, did not get the status of a basilica, is the church of Saint Catherine. It is one of the most beautiful examples of medieval stone architecture, it seems light and soaring, and at the same time it has survived for many centuries – it was built in 1342. Interestingly, although we do not associate Krakow or Poland with earthquakes, the temple suffered two times as a result of a similar cataclysm – in the 15th and 18th centuries.
What else is worth knowing about this attraction in Kazimierz in Krakow, before we visit it? We can find here a fabulous late-gothic stellar vault over the presbytery, a magnificent baroque main altar, a 17th-century crucifix, a Renaissance painting “Wheel of Death”, Spytek Jordan’s tombstone, as well as other monuments of visual arts, paintings and sculptures. Interestingly enough, the world-famous author Graham Masterton mentions the Church of Saint Catherine in Kazimierz in his novel “Night of the Gargoyles”. The title gargoyles were brought to the USA from this temple.
Streets, bookstores and restaurants in Kazimierz, Krakow
The last tourist attraction in Kazimierz in Krakow is simply the characteristic atmosphere of this district! Everything here is beautiful and amazing, taking us to the pre-war reality. From narrow, rocky streets to shop signs.
Due to the fact that there is a lot of greenery and the modern architecture of glass and steel has not dominated the landscape, we can rest here even on a hot day and experience relief. The local restaurants also have a great atmosphere, it is definitely worth visiting them and feeling like before the war. It can be, for example, the perfect idea for a date in Krakow. Families with children will enjoy the playgrounds and Dietlowski plantations, i.e. a small green area separating Kazimierz from Dietla and Stradom streets.
Tourist attractions in Krakow’s Kazimierz – summary
As you can see, tourist attractions in Kazimierz in Krakow not without reason attract lovers of history, art and pre-war climate, as well as artists and people of culture. They are all worth seeing and visiting, and they will surely captivate us. Let’s just remember the rules of behavior – Jewish temples are closed on the Sabbath (Saturday), and you often have to take a headgear with you or rent it. In Christian churches, this is not paid attention to, but it is also important to dress appropriately.
See also: Kraków / Monuments, tourist attractions, interesting places / What is worth seeing and visiting?
It is unbelievable that such a quiet, historic neighborhood is only a stone’s throw away from a modern, concrete and glass city, busy and noisy. And what are your favorite tourist attractions in Kazimierz, Krakow? Let us know in the comments!