Old Synagogue

Old Synagogue

Krakow, Poland

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Old Synagogue
Old Synagogue
Old Synagogue
Old Synagogue
33-332 ul. Szeroka 24
Lesser Poland Voivodeship
Phone Number
+48 12 4220962
Recommended duration
2 hours

The Old Synagogue in Krakow’s Kazimierz district is the oldest surviving synagogue in Poland and ranks among some of the oldest synagogues in all of Europe.
Originally built in the 15th century, it was reconstructed and given a Renaissance-style makeover after it was caught in a fire in 1557. Most of the artworks and relics in it were looted during World War II. Today it is a well-known Jewish museum and a division of the Historical Museum of Krakow.
Explore the grand interiors of the Old Synagogue when you visit it.
The items on display at the Old Synagogue’s museum include relics from the Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz, artifacts related to Jewish rites and traditions, both social and religious, numerous documents, a trove of photographs.
View the numerous exhibits that are part of the permanent exhibition at the museum: The History and Culture of Jews in Krakow.
Walk through the older prayer rooms for men and women on the ground floor to view items for use at Jewish ceremonies, divided into 3 major categories:
  • synagogue
  • holidays and annual festivals
  • private and family life
The Main Hall has exhibits dedicated to the synagogue and important Jewish festivals. See the scroll with text of the Torah that is on display here. There is an exciting collection of items to browse through here. 
South Hall has items dedicated to family and personal life.

There are a number of temporary exhibitions organized regularly at the museum. 

Old Synagogue is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in the Kazimierz district of Krakow, Poland, 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 Krakow Jewish community. In 1794 General Tadeusz Kosciuszko spoke from the synagogue to gain the Jewish support in the struggle for Polish independence. A plaque in the entrance hall commemorates this event:

"The Jews proved to the world that whenever humanity can gain, they would not spare themselves." – General Tadeusz Kosciuszko

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. There was further reconstruction work in 1904 and in 1913 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 magazine. 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 Krakow, with particular focus on Krakow's Jews. The exhibits are divided into themes dealing with birth, prayer rituals, diet, divorce and death. "The beautiful women's prayer room, which dates from the 17th century, is often used to hold temporary exhibitions."


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