Tempel Synagogue dates from around 1862 and was built by Krakow's Reform Jews. It is the only still functioning synagogue in Kazimierz, the Jewish area of Krakow which had its population decimated during World War II. The building is a Neo-Classical style with Moorish interiors. It was badly damaged during the war when the Nazi's used it to store ammunition, but it was repaired and services resumed after the war.
These days services are only held a few times a year, but the synagogue remains a place of worship. It also hosts concerts of Jewish and classical music. it is worth seeing for the contra st between the austere facade and the brightly decorated interior of gilded woodwork and ceiling, lit by stained glass windows.
Tadeusz Pankiewicz’s pharmacy in the heart of Podgórze ran quite smoothly until 1941 when the Nazis closed off the surrounding area and created a ghetto for the Jewish community. And although Pankiewicz was offered to move the Aryan side of the city at the time, he chose to stay in the ghetto, where he was able to supply the residents with medication and various pharmaceutical products that were not only used for health reasons but also to help them mislead the Gestapo; for example, many residents used hair dyes to disguise their identity, or even tranquilizers to keep children quiet during raids. The pharmacy itself was often used as a shelter to Jews who escaped deportation to the camps.,
The pharmacy is now part of the Krakow Historical Museum and has been restored to its wartime appearance. Multimedia exhibits and various artifacts, as well as numerous testimonials from Holocaust survivors and Poles, inform visitors about the reality of life in the ghetto.
Podgorze is a district of Krakow on the southern bank of the Vistula River and at the base of Lasota Hill. It was originally a separate city, but in 1915, as the Austro-Hungarian Empire was beginning to collapse, the town was combined with Krakow. The neighborhood was home to a large Jewish population, and thousands of its residents were sent to concentration camps during World War II. Several signs of the neighborhood's past can still be found here. One significant memorial is Plac Bohaterow Getta (Ghetto Heroes Square), a monument using large metal chairs that commemorates the heroes of the ghetto and the victims of the Holocaust. This is where many waited to board trains that took them to Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps.
There are several other memorials including Eagle Pharmacy and Plaszow Camp Memorial. Schindler's Factory, which is now a museum, is also located in this district. This is the factory the movie Schindler's List was based on.
Tucked away behind the flying buttresses of St Mary’s Basilica, the Maly Rynek is the baby brother of Krakow’s landmark Rynek Główny, just as beautiful but without the constant crowds. The oblong square is lined with townhouses painted in muted greens, yellows and reds, some with Baroque embellishments dating from the 17th century. The brick-red apse of the Church of St Barbara backs on to the piazza; with its origins in the early 14th century, it was Krakow’s Jesuit church for centuries and its interior has a mix of Gothic and Baroque architecture, several rare icons and an mournful sculpture depicting Christ in the Garden at Gethsemane.
This church is one of the oldest stone-built religious buildings in all of Poland, with some of the eldest relics dating back to the 10th century. In fact, it has been around for so long that its floor is actually situated roughly two meters under the current level of the square, which was covered with different layers of pavement throughout the centuries. The church underwent several renovations according to the style that was fashionable from one era to the next, but it has remained relatively untouched since it was revamped in Baroque style in the 1610s. In opposition to the grand and voluminous St. Mary’s Basilica on the other end of the square, St. Adalbert Church is actually quite small and confined.
According to the legend, the church was erected on the site where St. Adalbert preached a famous sermon before he left on a mission to bring Christianity to Prussia that would lead him to his untimely and martyr death.
The biggest museum in all of Krakow, the National Museum, is actually the regional (and most important) branch of Poland’s National Museum - There are over 21 departments in Krakow alone, made up of 12 conservation workshops, 2 libraries and 11 galleries, each divided by art period, for a grand total of over 780,000 artworks. The museum came to be after Henryk Siemiradzki, one of Poland’s most celebrated painters, offered one of his works to the city of Krakow; soon after, hundreds of other artists and collectors started doing the same – forcing the city to adopt a special motion to house this invaluable collection. By creating the museum, the Polish government wanted to promote the achievements of the Krakow artistic community and the fine arts in general to the people of Poland, and, later on, to visitors from around the world.
The Hipolit House is a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow, containing recreations of townhouse interiors from the 17th to early 19th century. The house represents a typical home in Krakow from this time period. The outside of the building has a grand facade with a central entrance hall. A narrow staircase takes visitors to the upper floors of the three story house. Visitors can still see carefully preserved stucco decoration by Baldassare Fontana from the late 17th century on the first floor. The permanent exhibition, Bourgeois House, shows how the interiors of the homes changed over the centuries. Visitors can see from this exhibition how the former wealthy citizens of Krakow lived. Furniture, paintings, fabrics, decorations, antique clocks and watches, and a variety of other objects show how the inhabitants arranged their homes. Through these details, visitors can get a glimpse of what life was like for the upper class during the 17th to early 19th century.
Welcome to Jan Matejko’s universe! The famous artist, counted among the most famous Polish painters, is celebrated for his vivid depictions of political and military events inspired from Polish history. Some of his most famous works include the Battle of Grunwald, Union of Lublin, Rejtan, as well as several portraits of Polish kings, which are exposed in various National Museums across Poland.
The three-story town house is where the painter used to work and live, and has been transformed into a biographical museum in the late 1800s, shortly after his death. The house is still adorned with artwork commissioned by Matejko himself, which is now particularly valuable, seeing as he was quite the collector. Hundreds of objects and trinkets that belonged to Matejko, collected throughout the years, make up the relatively small but highly significant collection.
The very aptly named museum, which is located inside Krakow’s famous Cloth Hall, does indeed focus on 19th-century Polish art, with thousands of paintings and sculptures on display – thus making it the largest of its kind in the world. As it mainly consists of donations from local collectors and artists, the exhibit is rather small in size when compared to other national galleries in the world but is nonetheless quite significant in terms of Polish art. The various artworks are scattered across four different “19th-century salon”-themed halls, each named after a prominent Polish artist and defined by a specific historical period.
The Bacciarelli Room is all about Classicist, Rococo and even late Baroque painters such as Bacciarelli himself, Grassi and Krafft, with a strong emphasis on historical and battle scenes.
Often regarded as one of Poland’s finest artists, Jozef Mehoffer (who also happened to be a pupil of Jan Matejko) was a highly talented stained-glass artisan, whose works can now be admired in numerous churches in both Krakow and across Galicia. This is the house where he used to live and work until his death in 1946, along with other artists of the Young Poland movement at the turn of the 20th century.
The house is still decorated with Mehoffer’s tasteful Art Deco furniture, Japanese treasures, iconographic trinkets, and impressionist artworks; as such, it offers an authentic glance of what life was like in a bourgeois house at the time, kind of like a time capsule. The house itself is in remarkable condition and features hundreds of rose bushes; in fact, the Jozef Mehoffer House is known for its beautiful garden-café, Meho Café, one of Krakow’s best kept secrets.
While not nearly as big as other archaeology museums in the world, that of Krakow’s has the particularity of being home to the world’s only Slavonic god to ever be unearthed – an 8-feet tall, 4-faced piece of stone. There are hundreds of other artifacts inside the museum, which offers fascinating information on the ancient people that once commanded Eastern Europe. The permanent collection consists of two exhibitions: one called Prehistory and the Early Middle Ages that focuses on the evolution of the Neanderthal cavemen to the early-medieval Poles, and another called Gods of Ancient Egypt displaying a mesmerizing collection of Egyptian antiquities. There is also a space reserved for temporary collections, which have gained quite a reputation throughout the years for being particularly interesting.
Located in what used to be a regional airport, the Polish Aviation Museum is indeed dedicated to old aircrafts, engines, and aviation history. The military airfield on which the museum is located is one of the oldest in the world, having been established by the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1912. It was soon used to train crews and repair aircrafts throughout the war; it became a major Polish Air Force Base until World War II, during which it was used by Germans to supply the Eastern front.
The rather large collection consists of over 200 aircraft, including several unique and extremely rare models from World War I, as well as a massive collection of archives and photographs; it, therefore, doesn’t come as a surprise to know that CNN deemed it the world’s eighth best aviation museum in the world.
Entirely dedicated to honoring Holocaust victims and celebrating Jewish culture of the former Austro-Hungarian region of Galicia through photographs, this museum features poignant and contemporary exhibits that will leave no one indifferent. It highlights a time in Poland when the Jewish community flourished, choosing to focus on what was and what remains, rather than on what was annihilated. The main exhibition, called Traces of Memory, presents the work of photojournalist Chris Schwarz and depicts what is left of the Austro-Hungarian’s heritage through photographs of cemeteries, houses, synagogues and other structures that are still visible today, and that once were at the heart of the Galician Jewish community; it also features video testimony of survivors. Additionally, the Museum also hosts two to three temporary exhibitions as well as concerts and other commemorative events.
Welcome to Poland’s only photography museum! Although modest in size, the Photography History Museum will captivate shutterbugs of both amateur and professional levels, with its fascinating exhibitions that relate the development and evolution of the eight art. It features several compact rooms filled with ancient cameras (over 500, to be exact), various antique pieces of equipment, historical photographs of Krakow, and even an old darkroom. It also boasts an extensive collection of rare photographs, some dating as far back as the turn of the century. As the only one of its kind in the country, the museum is famous for housing temporary exhibits by famous photographers from around the world.
Communist repression came to Poland in 1945 after the end of World War II and lasted until the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989. During this time, the suburb of Nowa Huta was constructed six miles (10 kilometers) east of Krakow’s center.
Nowa Huta could not be more different from fairytale Krakow. Built as a piece of Communist propaganda to “house the people” in a garden city, it sprang up at an alarming speed during the late 1940s. At its peak, the area housed 100,000 residents among its wide boulevards, public parks and regimented apartment blocks all designed in the architectural style of the day, Socialist Realism. As with many idealistic plans, the Soviet dream town was never completed, and Nowa Huta became a hotbed of political rebellion during the Solidarity strikes of the early 1980s.
The Stained Glass Museum in Krakow, Poland combines an art museum with an old stained glass workshop from 1902. The process of creating stained glass has not changed in centuries, and visitors can learn about this process and see how the stained glass is made. The workshop has been preserved with its original furnishings and equipment, so visitors are able to see the different rooms, which each have their own piece of the production process. This workshop is where many of Poland's greatest stained glass artists have produced their art. You might get lucky and see a master at work during your visit.
In the exhibition space, the museum has on display examples of both historical and contemporary stained glass pieces. Some are from the most renowned artists of the Polish Art Nouveau period. The museum's guides have interesting stories to tell about many of the pieces on display.