Thursday, October 2, 2014

Kazimierz & Podgórze

After our filling food tour we took a tour of Kraków's Kazimierz and Podgórze districts.  Kazimierz was Kraków's center of Jewish life for more than 500 years.  It was founded by Polish King Kazimierz the Great in 1335 and is the oldest Jewish quarter in Poland.  But it was not an exclusively Jewish as there are some Catholic churches in the area.

Skałka is St. Stanisław's Church.  In 1079, Bishop Stanisław excommunicated King Bolesław so the king accused the bishop of treason and had him beheaded and dismembered in the church.  St. Stanisław was canonized in 1253 becoming the first native Polish saint.  He is the patron saint of both Poland and Kraków.

A few well known writers and artists are buried here including Czesław Miłosz who died in 2004.  Czesław Miłosz was a Polish poet and diplomat who defected in 1951 and became a U.S. citizen in 1970.  In 1980 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Temple Synagogue is the newest synagogue and dates back to 1862.  During German occupation in WWII the synagogue was used as a warehouse and as stables.
Inside Temple Synagogue

There is quite a bit to see in the neighborhood and today there are lots of  cafes and art galleries. 

During the Nazi occupation, Jews were moved out of Kazimierz and across the river to the ghetto in Podgórze.

Very little remains of the Kraków ghetto as most of it was liquidated in 1943.  There is a portion of one of the walls with a plaque remaining.

Schindler Factory Museum

The Jewish ghetto was located near Oskar Schindler's enamel factory which operated from 1939 to 1944.  Today it is a museum dedicated to the 1,200 Jews Schindler saved during the Holocaust.   

Some of those Schindler saved
Israel declared him Righteous Among the Nations and a tree is planted in his honor at Yad Vashem.  Schindler died in 1974 and he is buried in a Catholic cemetery in Jerusalem.

St. Joseph's Church
What is now Plac Bohaterów Getta, Ghetto Heroes Square, is home to 70 over sized bronze chairs as a memorial to the Kraków Jews who were sent off to concentration camps.  The chairs represent the possessions discarded by deportees and there is one chair for every 1,000 people who were shipped out from this very place.

The Neo-Gothic St. Joseph's Church was built from 1905 to 1909.

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