After spending the morning walking through the old part of Krakow, we decided on another free walking tour. We would spend the afternoon touring the Jewish part of Krakow. We met again in front of St. Mary’s church with its two different towers. Only now we had a ten minutes walk ahead of us into a district called Kazimierz. Our first stop was the Klezmer Hois, which is currently a restaurant, but was once a ritual bath house. The building is from the 14th century.
The former bath house stands on a small square which has a little green space in the middle. This green is enclosed by a low fence. And this fence show you right away that you are now in the Jewish district. It’s also very pretty.
And right across from this park is the statue of Jan Karski. This Polish diplomat delivered the news of the German atrocities in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw and the transportation of the Jews to London and Washington. Unfortunately his reports didn’t warrant any action and history took its course. He never returned to his home country but stayed in America.
On this same square, just a bit further, sits also the Old Synagogue. In this building is nowadays a museum. It was warm that day and people used the stairs in front to sit and talk. I like the symbolic of this.
We went around the corner and the Jewish cemetery was almost upon us. We didn’t enter it but could take a look inside from a window in the wall. It looks in really good condition unlike other cemeteries I have seen.
We walked through a passage between houses where a famous scene of ‘Schindler’s List‘ happened. I have seen the movie only once, therefore I don’t remember which one. But we had someone with us who recognized the place. And also other tourists stopped and took pictures. So it must have been a significant one.
After crossing the Vistula river we arrived in the former Jewish ghetto. The bridge we crossed was modern and had figures leaning into the steel cables. The Bernatek Footbridge is a work of art in itself.
Once the ghetto was set up, 17.000 lived in apartments which were the former home of 3.000 people. Talk about cramped living. Unlike in Warsaw the Krakow ghetto area is not marked on the pavement. So you really need to know where to look. As our final station on the Free Walking tour we arrived on the Ghetto Heroes Square.
The 70 empty chairs represent the emptiness left behind by dead Jewish citizens. Each chair stands for 1.000 people. Some of the chairs are next to bus stations for people to sit down, others stand empty and forlorn on the square. The only non Jewish inhabitant of the ghetto was Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who owned the pharmacy on this said square. He stayed on by his own request and helped with what little medication he had. In his former pharmacy is now a museum.
And another museum was built around Schindler’s factory, which is just outside the ghetto. Too bad that we didn’t have time to actually to visit the museum. There is certainly much to see and learn inside. Never mind though, Krakow is worth another visit. I really enjoyed the weekend in this city, and one day I will definitely go back. Obviously the pandemic must be over eventually. Yours, Pollybert