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The Jewish Quarter and another big mound

Poland Day 6. Another day traipsing around the city produced more fascinating finds as well as one unfortunate episode (which had a silver lining).

Kazimierz is a stone’s throw from the Old Town and contains the Jewish Quarter. Prior to WW2 this part of Kraków was the centre of Jewish culture in Poland. Although Kraków sustained only minor damage during WW2, Jewish sites suffered with the Nazis ruining most synagogues and tearing up cemeteries on top of decimating the population. Architecturally the loss wasn’t total and restoration work has been occurring. Even though Krakow’s ethnic make-up changed dramatically after the war, Jewish culture still undoubtedly permeates Kazimierz.

Today was also interesting in that I know basically nothing about the Jewish faith and so have had to look up some things for the purpose of completing this post.

The New Jewish Cemetery - which left me wondering what the old one must be like

The New Jewish Cemetery – which left me wondering what the old one must be like

The cemetery contains a huge number of tombstones and memorials for victims of the holocaust. Most of those are in their original state, this one is more recent

The cemetery contains a huge number of tombstones and memorials for victims of the holocaust. Most of those are in their original state, this one is more recent

When I arrived Jewish men in their distinctive dress were gathering at the mortuary hall. Water for washing hands and spare head coverings for visitors were left on a table outside

When I arrived Jewish men in their distinctive dress were gathering at the mortuary hall. Water for washing hands and spare head coverings for visitors were left on a table outside

A few minutes walk away is the Remuh Synagogue and old cemetery. It was open for tourists so I filed in behind a large group of Germans. Every man had to put on a kippa

A few minutes walk away is the Remuh Synagogue and old cemetery. It was open for tourists so I filed in behind a large group of Germans. Every man had to put on a kippa

The synagogue is undergoing restoration so we couldn't venture too far

The synagogue is undergoing restoration so we couldn’t venture too far

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The old cemetery closed in 1800 after which time the new cemetery was used

The old cemetery closed in 1800 after which time the new cemetery was used

There were a few of these around the cemetery which I take to be weatherproof boxes for lighting memorial candles. Rocks rather than flowers get left when a person visits a grave (you'll see them in the previous photo) because flowers eventually die

There were a few of these around the cemetery which I take to be weatherproof boxes for lighting memorial candles. Rocks rather than flowers get left when a person visits a grave (you’ll see them in the previous photo) because flowers eventually die

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Both cemeteries had a mosaic wall of broken tombstones. I'm wondering if this is some of what was destroyed and removed by the Nazis to use in camp construction. Following the war, efforts were made to recover and return the tombstone pieces

Both cemeteries had a mosaic wall of broken tombstones. I’m wondering if this is some of what was destroyed and removed by the Nazis to use in camp construction. Following the war, efforts were made to recover and return the tombstone pieces

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Menorah symbols on a fence around a memorial park outside the synagogue

Menorah symbols on a fence around a memorial park outside the synagogue

There were many signs that pointed to this being a popular place on the tour route in Kraków - but ignoring for a moment, the architecture and cobblestones are great

There were many signs that pointed to this being a popular place on the tour route in Kraków – but ignoring for a moment, the architecture and cobblestones are great

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I ducked into the High Synagogue which houses an exhibition, primarily to see the restoration work in the upper prayer room

I ducked into the High Synagogue, which houses an exhibition, primarily to see the restoration work in the upper prayer room

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The western side of Kazimierz was established with a more Catholic flavour. This is the imposing Corpus Christi Basilica

The western side of Kazimierz was established with a more Catholic flavour. This is the imposing Corpus Christi Basilica

And this is the beautiful interior at St Catherine's

And this is the beautiful interior at St Catherine’s

I stopped for lunch. Having seen a salad I wanted on the board outside this restaurant I waved away the menu and ordered, which seemed to be acknowledged. After about 40 minutes (where I had been distracted doing things online) it dawned on me that it was taking a bloody long time – even taking into account what I’d read about Polish service being a bit slow. When I enquired the waitress said it would be about 15 minutes as there were only two in the kitchen. Not happy, there was nothing for it but to wait some more.

At about the hour mark I was utterly fed up (and obviously not fed!). Seeing my frustration she came over again and I couldn’t believe it when I realised what had happened: she didn’t click that I was placing an order when I first sat down and the reference to 15 minutes was once an order is placed. In short things had been lost in translation and there was no lunch coming.

With an hour wasted I flagged that idea for the time being and went to find the Vistula.

Time for a riverfront stroll

Time for a riverfront stroll

My silver lining! The reason my first attempt at lunch got cocked up was so that I could chance upon this riverside restaurant. Prime spot!

My silver lining! The reason my first attempt at lunch got cocked up was so that I could chance upon this riverside restaurant. Prime spot!

I continued on to find the big mound. The day alternated between warm and cold but it didn’t rain as the forecast suggested it might.

Funny little thing, made funnier by the 'intertuning motorsport' decal on its windscreen

Funny little thing, made funnier by the ‘intertuning motorsport’ decal on its windscreen

A scene on the Vistula

A scene on the Vistula

And a scene along a waterway that feeds the Vistula

And a scene along a waterway that feeds the Vistula

A long avenue on the way to the mound

A long avenue on the way to the mound. Love those tinges of autumn

The Kościuszko Mound. Unlike the prehistoric mound I visited two days ago, this was constructed in the 1800s as a memorial to a beloved military leader. It is made from earth contributions from all over Poland and from the battlefields he fought on

The Kościuszko Mound. Unlike the prehistoric mound I visited two days ago, this was constructed in the 1800s as a memorial to a beloved military leader. It is made from earth contributions from all over Poland and from the battlefields he fought on

To get to the mound you go through this chapel (built by the Austrians, having pulled down the existing chapel in favour of one they could incorporate into their stronghold) and pay a man some money.

To get to the mound you go through this chapel (built by the Austrians, having pulled down the existing chapel in favour of one they could incorporate into their stronghold) and pay a man some money.

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Another great day and great spot for panoramic views

Another great day and great spot for panoramic views

When the Austrians moved in they used the mound as a lookout and built a fortress around it

When the Austrians moved in they used the mound as a lookout and built a fortress around it

And that was me done. I walked a more direct route back for my last night at the hotel.

A short 'walk of fame' between Wawel Hill and the riverfront. Did a double take at the Jane Campion star!

A short ‘walk of fame’ between Wawel Hill and the riverfront. Did a double take at the Jane Campion star!

Distance walked: 19.31km

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love your photos, Hayley. It could be that what you thought to be a weatherproof box for memorial candles is actually a vessel containing bones from a hospital that once stood on that spot and were buried (and perhaps disinterred).. at least that’s as much as I decipher from the Hebrew engraving.

    10 September 2015
    • That’s interesting and would explain why it was closed (unlike the others that were open with candles visible) and had the stones on top. Thanks Amit!

      10 September 2015

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