Poland: Jewish Quarter, Krakow

I explored Krakow in two parts: the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter. Basically I took a walking tour of both and then ping-ponged between them all weekend eating food, walking it off, eating food ad infinitum. The Jewish Quarter is in the Kazimierz district of Krakow. The Jewish Ghetto of Krakow is actually over the river. The Jewish people were evicted from their neighborhood and moved there. There is a rumble track on the highway to remind drivers that they are crossing the location of the old ghetto walls.

For over 500 years, it was the center of Jewish life in Krakow and this photo here is of the Old Synagogue. The bit on the left connected to the old medieval city walls, then the middle brick part was added, and lastly the modern addition in the front was added to let the women pray inside the building (but still separate from the men).

This pretty alley here was used extensively in the filming of Schindler’s List.

This is the old cemetery, which was pretty much destroyed during the Nazi Occupation. They used it as a dumping ground to further insult the Jewish people. Luckily, it has been more or less restored.

I asked the tour guide why so many buildings had this horizontal barbed wire. He said many of the buildings here are not officially owned by anyone, because their owners who disappeared in the war have not (or can not) claimed them. The city doesn’t want to refurbish the buildings and then have someone come and claim it, this losing all the money they invested in it’s refurbishment. So instead, they put up wire to keep the falling plaster for hitting people on the streets. It’s a shame because it keeps the city in disrepair- but it’s also nice that they are continuing the Nazi exploitation.

I went to a flea market in Plac Nowy. It was huge and they had all kinds of awesome stuff. I even haggled for an old candle holder and a doily! I also bought this weird thing that I was sure was a pastry, but actually turned out to be a dense block of cheese. I bit into it and spit it out in shock.

There’s also a market in the center of the Jewish Quarter that is now the hub of nightlife. During the day it’s a market and I had a kielbasa with fried onions. This was the best meat I had on the trip, obviously.

This area is known for it’s really hip bars and this one was really awesome. It was dark and moody. There was insense burning in every single room of the labyrinthian place, so it was basically like an opium den. Some of the tables were old Singer sewing machines and the delapidated walls were decorated in what I like to call “yard sale art”.

They are known for their particularly good Krakow specialty- Hot Beer, or mulled beer. It tastes as weird as it sounds.

After a few hot beers, I went back to the central market area to get Krakow’s favorite drunk food: the zapiekanka. It was so. huge. I had the standard, which was meatless, mostly mushroom, it was so good. These and the mushroom pierogies I had were the two best flavored things I ate- meatless!

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