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The Synagogues of Krakow's Kazimierz

S. Stara
S. Remu
S. Wysoka
S. Poppera
S. Izaaka
S. Kupa
S. Tempel


The Old Synagogue’s creation dates back to the end of the 15th century, which makes it the oldest synagogue in Krakow. The Gothic-Renaissance style architecture, with a rib vault, has two naves and a courtyard that was once used for wedding ceremonies. Before adding a women's room and a women's balcony in the 16th century, the synagogue was only open to men. Until 1939 it was the most important place Jews gathered in Kazimierz and Kraków, performing both religious and administrative functions. The synagogue survived numerous fires and, thanks to the support of donors, has been restored several times. Since 1961, it has functioned as a branch of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, today The Museum of Kraków, presenting the history of Krakowian Jews. It is located at the end of Szeroka Street.


The Remuh Synagogue was established in 1553 as a private synagogue for the family and friends of its founder, Israel Issert ben Josef. It was rebuilt many times, but many original elements have been preserved such as the bimah, the Aron Kodesh, and the treasury. In 1829, thanks to Antoni Pluszczyński, a room for women was created, the stone vault was replaced with a wooden one, and a room for men was added on the first floor. To this day, the synagogue serves as a house of prayer. Every year, during the festival of Lag ba-Omer, the synagogue hosts ceremonies commemorating the death of the meritorious Rabbi of the Krakow Community, Moses ben Israel Isserles. It is located on Szeroka Street next to the Old Jewish Cemetery.


The High Synagogue owes its name to its location on the second floor of a building whose ground floor served as a commercial space. The synagogue was built in 1556-1563 by a wealthy Jewish merchant named Israel, with the consent of King Sigismund II Augustus. It was intended to be used exclusively by men until the second half of the 17th century, when a women's annex was added. The synagogue stood out among others thanks to its rich furnishings, such as the Renaissance Aron Kodesh in the prayer room. Devastated during World War II, it was again authorized for use only at the end of the 20th century. The synagogue is located on Józefa Street.


The Popper Synagogue was established as a synagogue for men in 1620. It is small, built of brick, has a modest courtyard, and the building is decorated with modern paintings. It was funded by a wealthy merchant and banker, Benjamin Wolf (often called Popper). He equipped the interior of the synagogue so that it was the richest of all Krakow synagogues. After the Swedish invasion, Popper's heirs were very impoverished, which resulted in the deteriorating condition of the synagogue. At the beginning of the 19th century, the synagogue was renovated and expanded, and a hall for women was added. The synagogue, also called the Stork Synagogue or Small Synagogue, currently houses a bookstore, no equipment has survived. It is located between Szeroka and Dajwór Streets.


Erected in the years 1638-1644 on the initiative of Isaac Jakubowicz and with the permission of King Władysław IV Waza, The Isaac Synagogue was the pride of Kazimierz and its rich equipment and furnishings rivaled those of the Wysoka and Popper synagogues. But this magnificent early Baroque building with numerous polychromes and a richly decorated vault wouldn't enjoy its times of splendor for very long. During the Swedish invasion, the synagogue was completely robbed, and shortly afterwards, partly burned. Renovated in 1857, in later years it served as a sculpting and conservation workshop for organs. It was not until 1994-1995 that significant renovations were carried out through the Krakow Monuments Protection Fund. Today, the synagogue serves both religious and museum purposes. It is located on the corner of Isaac and Kupa Streets.


The Kupa Synagogue was probably founded in 1643 for the poorest members of the Jewish community, adjacent to the Jewish hospital, which is why it is also called the Hospital Synagogue or the Synagogue of the Poor. The interior of the Baroque building is decorated with numerous polychromes from the times of the Second Polish Republic, as well as paintings and a stone Aron-Kodesh, all preserved from the original equipment. The synagogue was directly adjacent to the defensive city walls of Kazimierz, a fragment of which has survived to this day. In the XVIII century, when the walls lost their function, a gallery for women was added. The synagogue was devastated during World War II and was renovated in 2000-2001 by the Jewish community. It currently performs prayer functions and is adjacent to the seat of the Jewish Religious Congregation in Krakow. It is located between Miodowa and Jonathan Warszauer streets.


The youngest of Krakow's synagogues, the Tempel Synagogue was built in the second half of the 19th century. The synagogue, which has been extended many times, combines many styles, including Byzantine, Neo-Roman, and Neo-Renaissance, and its interior is decorated with Moorish paintings and a rich collection of stained glass. It is also called the Progressive Synagogue because of the activity of the progressive Jewish community supporting the Haskalah. During World War II, the synagogue served as a warehouse, but religious services were once again held in the building in 1945. In the years 2000-2005 it underwent major renovations to become not only a house of prayer, but also a gathering place for celebrations and ceremonies related to Jewish culture. It is located at the intersection of Miodowa and Podbrzezia streets.

Prepared by the JCC Krakow team based on literature on the subject.
Pictograms: the idea of Renata Guzera

Graphic design: Justyna Janikowska-Radosz

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