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]|
Anna Wilk /
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.
In 1275, Duke Bolesław Wstydliwy chartered the city on Magdeburg Rights, which meant exempting the settlers and investors from taxes. This attracted a large number of settlers, mostly Germans, but also Jews, who found here particularly favorable conditions. A mention of a Jewish quarter in Kraków comes from the year 1304. The first Jewish institutions, a synagogue, bathhouse and hospital, were located in the vicinity of present Św. Anny Street (then called Żydowska (Jewish) Street).
In 1335, King Kazimierz Wielki (Casimir the Great) chartered near Kraków, on the site of Bawół village, on the opposite site of the Vistula River, another city – Kazimierz. At the same time, more Jews began to settle in Kraków, which started to be considered as an even more significant center of trade with Silesian towns, Moravia, Czech Republic, Ruthenia and Hungary. The Jewish newcomers mostly settled near Kraków: in the town of Kazimierz and in Kleparz (a borough of Kraków). In 1364, King Kazimierz Wielki established in Kraków the first Polish university – Kraków Academy, located in the neighborhood of the Jewish quarter in Kraków. With time, the Jews were compelled to leave the area they occupied and move a few streets farther, and a little time later, to the nearby Kazimierz.
The first synagogue, called the Old Synagogue, was erected in Kazimierz probably around 1407, when a pogrom, resulting from an alleged ritual murder, took place in Kraków. Events that had similar background also happened in 1423. Regardless of massive attacks on Jews in the center of Kraków, the Jews were regularly forced to pay different kinds of charges – e.g. they paid so-called kozubalec to the Kraków students.
In 1495, by the decision of King Jan Olbracht, the Jews had to leave Kraków and most of them settled in the neighboring town of Kazimierz. The reason for expelling the Jews were unexplained circumstances of the fire that broke out in the center of Kraków and charges against the Jewish residents concerning this case.
In the 16th century, Kazimierz became the biggest and most important Jewish agglomeration in Europe. The first prominent scholar and rabbi was Jakub Polak ben Josef, founder of a yeshiva that quickly started to attract students from distant towns. His disciples and successors were Mosze Fiszel, alias ReMUH, Meir Ben Gedalia
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