Kazimierz, 30-001 Kraków, Poland

Founded as a separate city by King Kazimierz the Great in 1335, Kazimierz became home to a growing Jewish population in the late 15th century, as Jews fled persecution in Western Europe and were welcomed by Polish kings. Today, the district is one of the most important centers of the Jewish diaspora in Europe, with as many as seven surviving synagogues to prove it. Every year in early summer, Kazimierz hosts the largest Jewish culture festival in Europe, drawing musicians and visitors from all over the world. The area is worth exploring year-round, however, as it’s also home to a variety of lively cafés, bars, and pubs as well as several trendy stores along Józefa Street.

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The Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz

A 30-minute walk from the Old Town is the bohemian district of Kazimierz. Once one of the most important centers of Jewish culture in Poland, and indeed in the whole of Europe, few of the city’s Jewish people survived the horrors of the Holocaust. This part of Krakow retains its unique identity and indeed the celebration of its Jewish heritage has seen a steady revival since Steven Spielberg used the streets of Kazimierz as a backdrop for his movie Schindler’s List. Visit the Old Synagogue in Ulica Szeroka, browse the galleries run by recent Jewish immigrants along Ulica Jozefa, and pay a visit to the excellent Galicia Jewish Museum, which also hosts regular cultural events.

Kazimierz at Night

While Kazimierz is often busy with tour groups during the daytime, in the evening the district is filled with the chatter of locals enjoying the many outdoor bars and restaurants; those who enjoy a good night out should devote an entire evening to explore Kazimierz. Omerta, a pub with more than 25 different ales on tap, is a good place to start. The vibe is casual and it’s a good place to sample a few of the notorious Polish drinking snacks, some of which are certainly an acquired taste. Nearby the Stara Zajezdnia is a converted tram terminus that now has its own microbrewery and hosts regular music events. The bars around Plac Nowy, New Square, are an ideal place to end the evening, with many offering live music until late.

Reliving the Jewish City Life

Kazimierz extraordinarily preserves what was once a thriving Jewish community. Painted jewish art on street building, synagogues, and an entire strip dedicated to judaic home style cooking allow this part of the city to actively relive its past. Beyond preservation, it ignites the night with a bustling bar and restaurant scene. The meals are cheap and flavorsome, the vodka is strong, and the night-owls happily roam the streets.

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