Old Synagogue, Krakow

Old Synagogue, Krakow

The Old Synagogue (Polish: Synagoga Stara) is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue situated in the Kazimierz district of Kraków. In Yiddish it was referred to as the Alta Shul. It is the oldest synagogue building still standing in Poland, and one of the most precious landmarks of Jewish architecture in Europe. Until the German invasion of Poland in 1939, it was one of the most important synagogues in the city as well as the main religious, social, and organizational centre of the Kraków Jewish community.

The Synagogue was built in 1407 or 1492; the date of building varies with several sources. The original building was rebuilt in 1570 under the watchful eye of an Italian architect Mateo Gucci. The rebuilding included the attic wall with loopholes, windows placed far above ground level, and thick, masonry walls with heavy buttressing to withstand siege, all features borrowed from military architecture. The Old Synagogue is a rare, surviving example of a Polish fortress synagogue.

The synagogue was completely devastated and ransacked by the Germans during World War II. Its artwork and Jewish relics, looted. During the occupation, the synagogue was used as a warehouse. In 1943, 30 Polish hostages were executed at its wall. The Old Synagogue was renovated from 1956 to 1959 and currently operates as a museum. It is a Division of the Historical Museum of Kraków, with particular focus on Kraków's Jews. The exhibits are divided into themes dealing with birth, prayer rituals, diet, divorce and death.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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Old Synagogue on Map

Sight Name: Old Synagogue
Sight Location: Krakow, Poland (See walking tours in Krakow)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Krakow, Poland

Create Your Own Walk in Krakow

Create Your Own Walk in Krakow

Creating your own self-guided walk in Krakow is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Jewish Heritage Tour in Krakow

Jewish Heritage Tour in Krakow

Jewish community has been an integral part of Krakow since the late 13th century. On the eve of World War II, there were 60,000 Jews living in the city, mostly in the Kazimierz District, accounting for one-fourth of the local population. The old town square in Kazimierz was the center of Jewish life.

During the war, the Nazis separated Jews from the rest of Cracovians in a ghetto and attempted...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Krakow Introduction Walking Tour

Krakow Introduction Walking Tour

A unique entry on the list of the World Heritage Sights, Krakow is a recognized center of the academic, artistic and cultural life of Poland. Established in the 7th century as a tiny hamlet at the top of the Wawel Hill, overlooking the Vistula River, it is one of the country's oldest cities. Over the course of the next fifteen centuries it has evolved into the nation's second-largest...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Historical Churches Walking Tour

Historical Churches Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Historical House Museums Tour

Historical House Museums Tour

Well-preserved historical buildings can often tell the stories of their city more vividly than any history book can. Krakow, the old capital and culture center of Poland, for many years has been the home of many important Poles. Today their former dwellings have been converted into museums so that visitors can learn about their ex-residents and see what life was like in the past. On this...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles