A Jewish centre from the fourteenth century onwards, Kraków’s Kazimierz district had grown by 1939 to accommodate some 65,000 Jews. After the Nazis took control, however, this population was forced into a cramped ghetto across the river. Waves of deportations to the death camps followed before the ghetto was liquidated in March 1943, ending seven centuries of Jewish life in Kraków. Kazimierz is now a fashionable and bohemian residential district, filled with poignantly silent synagogues. Just off pl. Nowy, a colourful square surrounded by chic cafés, is the Isaac Synagogue (Fri 9am–2.30pm, Sun–Thur 9am–8pm) at ul. Kupa 18 – now a working synagogue once again, it contains sizeable chunks of Hebrew inscriptions on its walls. At ul. Szeroka 24 is the Old Synagogue (Mon 10am–2pm, Wed, Thurs, Sat & Sun 9am–4pm, Fri 10am–5pm; 9zł), the oldest surviving example of Jewish religious architecture in Poland and home to the Museum of Kraków Jewry, with its traditional paintings by the area’s former inhabitants. Nearby, the Remu’h Synagogue on ul. Szeroka (Mon–Fri: May–Sept 9am–6pm; Oct–April 9am–4pm; 6zł) contains lovely original furnishings; the cemetery behind the synagogue contains restored 18th-century gravestones.
At the southern end of Kazimierz, the Municipal Engineering Museum at św. Wawrzynca 15 (Tues–Sun 10am–4pm; 8zł) contains a fantastic display of vehicles in a former tram depot.