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Polska / małopolskie

Synagogues, prayer houses and others Cemeteries Sites of martyrdom Judaica in museums Andere


Province:małopolskie / krakowskie (before 1939)
County:krakowski grodzki / krakowski grodzki (before 1939)
Community:Kraków / Kraków (before 1939)
Other names:Krakau [j. niemiecki]; קראָקע [j. jidysz]; קרקוב [j. hebrajski]
50.0632° N / 19.9436° E
50°03'47" N / 19°56'36" E


Anna Wilk /

Krakowska starówka | Martyna Kozak

Kraków (Cracow) – a city in southern Poland, Małopolska Province, Kraków County. It is located 295 km southwest of Warsaw. It lies on both banks of the Vistula River, at the peripheries of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, the Nidziańska Syncline, the Brama Krakowska and Sandomierz Valley.



Edyta Gawron

sceny z życia ulicznego w Krakowie; kataryniarz | nieznany

The exact date of Jews settling in Kraków is difficult to determine. Based on sources from 1028 mentioning two Jewish merchants travelling towards Ruthenia and offering their wares to the Jewish community council in Kraków, one may assume that a Jewish presence in Kraków extends back to as early as the first half of the 11th century.

At the end of the 11th century, Prague was hit by a wave of pogroms provoked by the crusaders. The Bohemian chronicler, Cosmas of Prague, stated that some of the Jews were forced to convert to Christianity while the rest fled Hungary and Poland. Even though the name “Kraków” is not mentioned, one may suspect that most of the refugees have chosen this particular city as a destination because living conditions were relatively safe (in addition to being the place of residence of the ruler, the city was notable for being located away from the route frequented by crusaders).

The first mention of a Jewish presence in Kraków was in the chronicle of Wincenty Kadłubek (also known as Vincentius de Cracovia). The chronicler noted that during the reign of Mieszko III the Old as the duke of Kraków (1173-1177), a Jew was assaulted, a crime for which the perpetrators were put on trial for “sacrilege.” The legal qualification of this act was the consequence of the privilege granted to Jews, who, at the time, were considered to be the “servants of the treasury.” An assault on any Jew was thus tantamount to a violation of ducal law (ius ducale) – the provisions included in the privilege adopted in certain parts of Poland that granted to the Jews in 1157 by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.

However, it was only in 1287 when a name of a Jew residing in Kraków was first recorded. His name was Chranisz, and he was murdered by Jacob, likely a burgher from Kraków, whose house was then confiscated as punishment.

In the beginning of the 14th century, the amount of information on the Kraków Jewish community council becomes much more extensive owing to the surviving municipal records. Additionally, there was a Jewish street (ulica Żydowska) by the 14th century, currently known as St. Anne street (ul. Św. Anny), showing that Jews lived in a vicus Judeorum (or Jewish district) where two synagogues, a bathhouse


Local history

Anna Wilk /

Widok Krakowa, XV wiek | Michel Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff

The area of contemporary Kraków has been inhabited from the prehistoric times. Archaelogical research shows that the oldest traces of people's existence dates back to the Palaeolithic Era (about 100,000 years BC). With the passing of time, on more and more houses were built in this area, especially on the fertile grounds along the Wisła River, as well as other rivers in the immediate vicinity of the town. There were hills stretching around the town, performing an important defensive function, Wawel being the most significant one. Its name derives from the Old-Polish word "wąwel", meaning "a dry hill over marshes". The Niepołomnicka forest stretched out in this vicinity. The soil was rich with such natural resources as rock salt. Without doubt, such good conditions favoured settlement on Kraków territory. 

At the turn of the 8th century Krakus, the legendary founder of the town, and Wanda, who according to legend threw herself into the abyss of the river in order not to marry a German, built burial mounds here. The historic part of the town was situated on the Wawel Hill, surrounded by pools from the Wisła River. It is estimated that Kraków was buit in the 9th century as an important centre of the tribal state of Wiślanie. The oldest mention of the town dates back to 965, when a Jewish trader and traveller, Ibrahim ibn Jakub, in his report on the Slavic countries, mentioned Kraków as an wealthy, important political and administrative centre, situated at the intersection of the main trading routes such as, for example, the Amber Trade Route. Its territory included, not only the territory of the Wawel Hill, but also stretched further into the territory of today's square at  churh of St. Mary Magdalene. 

Polish King Mieszko I incorporated Kraków into Poland in the second half of the 10th century. From that time onwards, the history of the town was strongly connected with Poland. During The Congress of Gniezno in 1000, Bolesław Chrobry, at the tomb of St Adalbert of Prague, established a Bishopric in Kraków, to create organization within the country's church. It was at that time, that construction of the Wawel Cathedral commenced. However, the first ruler


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