By / 14th Styczeń, 2014 / Blog / Off

Kazimierz, both a Jewish and Christian district of Kraków, attracts tourists from all over the world with its unique atmosphere created by numerous shops, galleries, antique shops, atmospheric cafés and restaurants that offer Jewish cuisine, interesting artistic events such as concerts and festivals (among others the Jewish Culture Festival organised in the summer) and, of course, synagogues. The town Kazimierz was founded in 1335 by the king Casimir the Great, and it was populated by the Jews exiled from Kraków under the decree issued at the end of the 15th century, as well as by a great part of Jews from whole Europe. It is estimated that before World War II, the population of the Jews in Kazimierz constituted 25% of the whole population of Kraków. The Jewish intelligentsia, which was undergoing the cultural assimilation, left an impressive cultural and architectural heritage. The most famous synagogues in Kazimierz are the Old Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Poland located at Szeroka Street, which is now part of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków; the Remuh Synagogue (also called the New Synagogue) – one of the two synagogues in Kazimierz that are still open, the place that holds the most significant Jewish services and festivals; the High Synagogue – the largest one in the district, which is now the location of the Jewish Education Centre; and the Tempel Synagogue at Miodowa Street, the second open synagogue, which is the most beautiful of the synagogues because it was renovated after the war. However, Kazimierz is not only related to the history of Judaism, as one can notice strong Christian influences as well. Even before the city was founded, Saint Stanislaus, the bishop from Szczepanów, died a martyr’s death on Skałka, and the king Casimir the Great built two huge churches there: the Corpus Christi Basilica, enrapturing with the baroque lavishness of its interior, and Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret’s Church, in which we can see admirable medieval wall paintings.

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