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Jewish Heritage Route - The District of Kazimierz in Krakow
Originally, Kazimierz, that got its name from its founder King Kazimierz Wielki (Kazimierz the Great), was an independent town. At the turn of the 15th century it became the centre of two cultures: Christian and Jewish. Many heritage buildings (especially sacral architecture) that bear testimony to the magnificence of these cultures can be admired to this day.
The Jewish Heritage Route begins at very lively Centre for Jewish Culture (in Meisels’s Street) and leads toward the Jewish temples – in turn: the Tempel Synagogue (Miodowa Street), built in 1862 for the Association of Progressive Israelites, Kupa Synagogue (Warszauer’s Street) and Isaac Synagogue (Jakuba Street) – both from 17th century, and, last but not least, the High Synagogue (Jozef’s Street) from 1590, the tallest of Krakow synagogues.
The culmination of the route is Szeroka Street – a street with three Jewish temples, including the most precious Old Synagogue (Alte Schul), being the most ancient Jewish building in Poland as its origin dates back to the 15th century. Nowadays the synagogue houses a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow and presents an exhibition devoted to the history and culture of Krakow Jews.
Beside the Renessaince Remuh Synagogue (1557), one of the three oldest in Europe, there is historic kirkut – the Jewish cemetery dating back to even earlier times (1511). Among the tombs, there is that of Rabbi Moses Isserles (died 1572), to which Jews make pilgrimage from the furthest parts of the world. Having visited the 17th-century Popper Synagogue, we leave the historic core of Kazimierz to see the New Jewish Cemetery in Miodowa Street.
For almost seven hundred years, Krakow was home to a large Jewish community. This was all but extinguished during the II World War, yet the echoes of this world can still be felt across the city. Kazimierz now has a Jewish cultural centre, several Jewish style restaurants with appropriate cooking and klezmer music every evening. Every year in June there is a festival of Jewish culture when music fills the streets, drawing a host of young Polish and international fans.
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