Krakow’s New Jewish Cemetery: A Place to Pay Respect to the Past
While Krakow may be one of Central Europe’s brightest up-and-coming cities these days, a place where the tech industry is booming, new restaurants open practically every week, and wild nights are a common occurrence for both tourists and locals alike, the city has seen more than its fair share of pain and suffering throughout its history. The New Jewish Cemetery in Kazimierz is a place where that pain can still be felt as if it never left, a place that transports visitors out of the busy, modern world and places them in a mindset of quiet respect and contemplation. Located a short walk from the banks of the Wisla and the massive shopping center of Galeria Kazimierz in Krakow’s historic Jewish Quarter, the New Jewish Cemetery seems like a shard out of time, where cracked, leaning headstones so overgrown or worn that many of the inscriptions are no longer readable, form claustrophobic alleyways under tall, ancient trees. It is a peaceful, if somewhat difficult place, in stark contrast to the bustling city that surrounds it. It is a must-see for those seeking to learn more about Krakow’s history, particularly the Holocaust, but it is also an active cemetery where local Jews still bury their dead, so visitors are urged to show the utmost respect while on or near the cemetery grounds.
The eleven-acre (4.5 hectare) New Jewish Cemetery was founded in 1800 after the nearby Remuh Cemetery (now called the Old Jewish Cemetery) on Ulica Szeroka became full. The New Jewish Cemetery was used for about a century, until it, too became full. Two more Jewish cemeteries were constructed during the 1920s, neither of which have survived to the present day. During World War II, the Nazis used the New Jewish Cemetery as a shooting range, where they held regular target practice. The majority of the damage caused by Nazi vandalism can still be seen to this day, evident in the huge number of shattered, broken, or fallen tombstones. Many of the deceased whose headstones were vandalized had no surviving family members to repair or maintain their graves, so, unfortunately, this grim chapter in history remains visible, and is likely to for some time. However, as Krakow’s Jewish population have begun to steadily return to the city of their ancestors over the past two decades, the New Jewish Cemetery has seen an influx of burials, including many notable rabbis, artists, and survivors of World War II.
The cemetery is open to visitors during daylight hours. As a sign of respect, modest clothes should be worn, including head coverings, while on cemetery grounds. Eating and drinking are also forbidden. Please do not step on the graves, leave behind any rubbish, or take anything from the cemetery if you choose to visit.
Images by Hannah Bialic for Absolute Tours
Krakow New Jewish Cemetery Info
Address: ul. Miodowa 55 Kraków, Poland
Map ref: 50.0537939, 19.9521216
More info about the New Jewish Cemetery can be found here.
Opening hours: 10:00 AM to 06:00 PM.
Best time to see it: Daytime