Lonely chairs in the centre of a once-crowded square – the history behind the Ghetto Heroes Square.
Among the many Krakow historical monuments and memorial sites there is one very unlikely one which almost everyone asks about when they first see it and not many people can give them the right answer.
It is the Ghetto Heroes Square with its 33 memorial chairs made of cast iron and bronze. The chairs symbolize the tragedy of the Polish Jews, inhabitants of Krakow, who were imprisoned in the Krakow Ghetto during WWII and the German occupation of Poland and afterwards murdered by the Germans on the premises of the ghetto and in several German death camps.
The square was erected around 1838 as the 2nd, subsidiary market square for Podgorze, which at that time was a separate town. After 1880 it was called Maly Rynek (Little Market). In 1917 the name was changed into Plac Zgody (Concord Square) because of and in memory of the incorporation of Podgorze to the city of Krakow which took place in 1915. The present name of the square dates from 1948 and was given to commemorate the Polish Jews who were imprisoned and died in the Krakow Ghetto between 1941 and 1943.
The Ghetto Heroes Square is situated at what used to be the center of the Krakow Ghetto. The main gate to the ghetto once stood wherethe present entrance to the square is, coming up from the Wisla river. In March 1941 the Germans locked up all the Krakow Jews inside the recently-built ghetto. Over 20,000 people were crowded within the ghetto walls, where previously only 3,000 people had lived.
The one and only non-Jewish inhabitant of the Krakow Ghetto was Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who had a pharmacy within the ghetto walls. During the existence of the ghetto he and his personnel provided all kinds of help and aid for the Jews imprisoned there. The Eagle Pharmacy still exists and is currently one of the 14 branches of the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow.
Ghetto Heroes Square Info
Address: Plac Bohaterow Getta, 30-547 Krakow.
Map ref: 50.046838, 19.954356
Opening hours: square: All year long, every day a week, 24h a day;
Eagle Pharmacy: Monday 10am-2pm, Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm. The Eagle Pharmacy is closed every 2nd Tuesday of the month.
Cost: admission to the sqaure is free; Eagle Pharmacy: regular 10 PLN, concessionary 8 PLN, groups, schools 7 PLN, families 20 PLN.
More information: about the square and the Eagle Pharmacy
Images by Mateusz Świercz for Absolute Tours