Monday May 11 and our second walk in the city, this time to the Kazimierz district, part of the Old Town, but on the outside the Planty which trace the medieval city walls. Originally the district was an island separated from Krakow by an old branch of the Vistula river; the name, Stara Wisla, survives in the street name, Starawislna, that links to the city. Although founded by the last of the Piast king, Casimir the Great, he did not initially designate the area for Jews. Jews were gradually pushed out of the center of Krakow, first from the area where the Gothic Collegium Maius stands (St. Anne's St.), then from Plac Szczepanski, until Jews finally found refuge---banished to Kazimierz in the 15th century. In medieval logic, Jews were confined to Kazimierz, but Christians lived there too. One of Cracow's (and Poland's) major churches called "Na Skalce" [on the rock] is in Kazimierz.
In 2000, Szeroka St., the center of run down Kazimierz , was just coming to life as a result of the filming of Schindler's List. Today, capitalism has infused Kazimierz (like the rest of Old Town Cracow) with a botox of cafes, restaurants, and hotels. Synagogues have been renovated, the Remuh cemetery restored, and the mikvah turned into a hotel---a vibrant tourist draw. I miss the less trendy Kazimierz of a decade ago in the early years of the Festival of Jewish Culture (began in 1988). For a quick history of the Kazimierz district (and photos of all the synagogues and churches), check wikipedia's entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazimierz One of the wiki sources is historian Majer Balaban. Then go to the site of the Museum of Galician Jews (located not far from Oskar Schindler's factory) at http://www.galiciajewishmuseum.org/