Krakow is a city full of history, culture, architecture, nature and entertainment.
Most tourists visiting Krakow usually focus on the neighborhoods of Old Town e Kazimierz, undoubtedly full of attractions and unmissable when visiting the city.
However, if the goal is to deepen the knowledge of the history of this city, then we must also go towards the district of Podgórze, where in the past there was the Krakow ghetto.
Il Podgórze district it is rich in natural beauty and unusual attractions, despite having a tragic past behind it.
This district is also easily reachable on foot from Kazimierz, and allows you to immerse yourself in a more traditional atmosphere, where tourism has not yet influenced the daily life of its inhabitants.
Read also: What to see in Krakow in 3 days
The quiet atmosphere is characterized by still open communist-style shops, especially along ul. Kalwarjiska, and a beautiful energy created by the artists who live in this area.
FREE TOUR WITH GUIDE IN ENGLISH
Civitatis offers the possibility to participate totally free of charge in the guided tour in English (then if you want you can leave a tip to the guide) of the Kazimierz Jewish Quarter and Krakow ghetto.
If you are interested in getting to know the grim history of the city, don't miss it.
Find out more about the FREE TOUR HERE
Let's find out the history of the Krakow ghetto e what to see in Podgórze.
The history of the Krakow ghetto
Wikipedia image source
Podgórze it is a working-class neighborhood separated from the rest of the city by the Vistula River.
Originally, and until the beginning of the XNUMXth century, Podgórze was a separate municipality separate from Krakow.
The most tragic history of this district took place between 1941 and 1943, when the Germans decided to transform it into city ghetto: an area of 600 by 400 meters, surrounded by a high wall and a double barbed wire fence.
Over the years, 17.000 Jews were locked up here, forced to live in terrifying conditions, 4 families for an apartment.
Just a stone's throw from the ghetto is the Schindler's factory, made famous by the film “Schindler's List”, which tells the story of Oskar Schindler and the courage with which he managed to save 1200 Jews from certain death.
La ghetto area, although it was formally defined as a "Jewish residential area", it was bounded by a three meter high wall that resembled the Jewish funerary monuments, whose entrances were closed by gates.
If you want to see some remaining parts of the wall you can find them at Lwowska Street 25 e Limanowskiego Street 62.
Di Sopotnicki /
Leaving the ghetto without a pass was punished with death and the same punishment was inflicted on anyone who tried to help the fugitives.
From the ghetto, which had now become heavily overpopulated, deportations to concentration camps were carried out, which reached their peak in June and October 1942.
Anyone deemed unable to work was killed and some of the deportees were shot in Płaszów, in front of mass graves dug by the prisoners themselves.
If you are interested (I hope so!) In the history of Krakow's Jews and Nazism, there are at least 4 visits to Krakow that you can't miss:
- Visit to Auschwitz from Krakow
- Visit to Schindler's Factory
- The guided tour of the Płaszów camp
- Guided tour of the Krakow ghetto (FREE!)
In March 1943 the Nazis proceeded to the definitive closure of the ghetto (remembered as the "liquidation of the Ghetto"), Deporting prisoners deemed capable of working to the Plaszów concentration camp and shooting all the rest in Concordia Square.
What to see in Podgórze and in the Krakow ghetto
Il ponte Father Bernatek Footbridge
The bridge Father Bernatek Footbridge it was built in 2010 to connect the districts of Podgórze and Kazimierz.
Since 2016 it hosts the work of the sculptor Jerzy Kędziora, representative of the acrobats in bronze dancing following the swings of the wind.
Born to be a temporary installation, the beauty and uniqueness of this work made it possible for the inhabitants of the area to mobilize to make it a permanent work.
Memorial to the heroes of the ghetto
Di Ivo Antonie de Rooij /
Undoubtedly one of the most touching places in the Podgórze district is the Heroes' Square.
A simple and paved square, surrounded by light buildings, which would be nothing special were it not that it is one of the places of memory.
Scattered around the square are located seventy large metal chairs each representing a thousand Jews who died in Krakow during the Nazi persecutions.
Two different interpretations of this work can be found: according to some the chairs want to recall the void left by the deportees, forced to abandon all their possessions to meet an uncertain destiny; according to others, instead, they represent the attempt of the deportees themselves to take their belongings with them, including chairs, when they were gathered, still unaware that the final destination would be the concentration camp.
Oskar Schindler's factory
Schindler's factory of agsaz /
Transformed into a memorial in 2010 in the former premises of the DEF (Deutsche Emaillewaren-Fabrik), inside the Schindler's factory, it is possible to retrace the history of the city during the period of Nazi occupation, from September 1939 until the liberation which took place thanks to the Soviet army in 1945.
Inside, the memorial is divided into exhibitions, some fixed and others temporary, arranged along an exciting path that tells the story of those years.
If you want visit visit Schindler's Factory:
⇒ Here you find my guide to Schindler's Factory with various timetables and information
⇒ Here are the ONLINE TICKETS for the Factory Pharmacy under the Eagle and Old Synagogue
⇒ Here you find the GUIDED VISIT to the Civitatis Factory
⇒ Here you can find it all ANOTHER TIDE OF TOURS which include the Schindler's factory, Auschwitz and much more.
The Krakow Ghetto Pharmacy
The pharmacy, Apteka pod Orlem (Farmacia sotto l'Aquila), in the Nazi era it belonged to the only non-Jew who was allowed to remain within the Podgórze ghetto.
The pharmacist, Tadeusz Pankiewicz, managed to resist the pressure of the Germans, who had established that all non-Jews move elsewhere, with the intent of trying to bring some relief to the people locked inside the walls, distributing under the counter food and medicine and helping people escape Nazi persecution.
Tadeusz Pankiewicz collected his experiences and the atrocities he experienced in a book entitled "The pharmacist of the Krakow ghetto". In my opinion it is a book that should be read and reread, because it is a testimony of immense value.
==> Find it here your AMAZON
Today the pharmacy structure, while maintaining its original appearance, it houses an interesting museum with photographs and artifacts from that period.
The Pharmacy under the Eagle is, together with Schindler's Factory, one of those places that absolutely must be visited in Krakow.
⇒ Here you find the online tickets for the PHARMACY UNDER THE EAGLE
⇒ Here are the ONLINE TICKETS for the Factory Pharmacy under the Eagle and Old Synagogue
Podgórze is not only a witness to an atrocious history, but also a cheerful and vibrant place populated by students and artists.
La Cricoteka it is easily recognizable due to its particular structure, obtained from the former power plant, which houses an artistic center, a space dedicated to experimental theater and an exhibition space.
Inside there is a permanent exhibition focusing on the ideas related to the art of Tadeusz Kantor, one of the most important artists and theater reformers of the twentieth century.
Inside the exhibition you can find theatrical and stage objects, photographs, films and recordings related to the development of the Kantor theater.
MOCAK - The Museum of Contemporary Art
Il MOCAK it is none other than the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow and stands in the place of a structure, now demolished, which was originally part of Schindler's Factory.
The aim of this museum is to showcase contemporary art, with particular attention to the last twenty years, and to support artists.
Inside the museum there is a library, a bookshop, a bar and a laboratory focused on the conservation of contemporary art.
Palazzo Aleksandrowicz it is, together with the Church of San Giuseppe, one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood.
It is also nicknamed the "Parisian" and its construction dates back to 1906, with a structure immediately recognizable as inspired by the profile of a ship.
The Church of San Giuseppe
La Church of St. Joseph it is a neo-gothic style building that stands out on the central square of Rynek Podgórski market Square around which all the activity of the neighborhood revolves.
From the top of its clock tower, 80 meters high and which can only be climbed at certain times of the year, you can admire the panorama of Krakow from both sides of the river.
Il Parco Wojciech Bednarski
One of the most beautiful places in the Podgórze district is undoubtedly the Parco Bednarski, born to enhance an ancient stone quarry now in disuse.
The work was commissioned by the director of the local school, strongly involved in the social sector, who completed one of the first examples of post-industrial recovery of an area at European level.
All around the park you can find beautiful villas and gardens, which testify how the original structure of Podgórze was originally conceived as that of a "garden city".
Where to eat
Fire and sword (Pl. Serkowskiego 7, Podgorze, 30-512): if you dream of being transported back to the seventeenth century, when the colors, tastes and music of Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian culture mixed with each other, then Ogniem i Mieczem is the right restaurant for you.
Not only is the décor meticulously thought out - the culinary journey itself transports guests to another era - try sweet honey vodka.
For adventurous travelers who want to experience something exceptional, this is the place to be.
Culinary Garden (ul. Przemyslowa 4, Podgorze, 30-701): it is a Mediterranean restaurant and the dishes are really delicious. highly recommended for people like me who are vegetarians.
If you are tired of Polish cuisine and want to try the tastes of our house, this is a great choice.
finished third at the Korona Krakow Gourmet Competition in the category of
romantic restaurants in Krakow.
Il Galicya restaurant (ul. Rzemieslnicza 4, Podgorze, 30-403), a small pearl, is located in a quiet street of Podgorze, where peace and quiet are guaranteed The restaurant was renovated in 2009 and has a bright and warm atmosphere that makes dining the enjoyable experience it should be.
Service with a smile isn't always common in Krakow, but you won't be denied here. Highly recommended for those who want to try the best that Polish cuisine has to offer.
Podgórze is quite off the beaten track but if you want to stay in an area full of locals and don't mind being a bit further from the center, Podgórze might be a good choice.
Read also: where to sleep in Krakow: the 5 best areas
Enamel Apartments: an economical choice, without giving up comfortable accommodation. Free Wi-Fi (from 35 euros / night)
Aparthotel Lwowska 1: A complex with 167 colorful suites, this aparthotel is modern with bright interiors and an elegant, boutique atmosphere. There is an on-site restaurant, sauna and spa, as well as parking.
Chilli Hostel: a clean and colorful hostel, you can choose between a dormitory or a single, double or triple room. It offers free wi-fi and the common areas are nice and welcoming. One of the things that guests appreciate most is the kindness of the staff.