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Initially just a hamlet on the right bank of the Vistula, later a proud city within the Austrian Empire, and finally a district of Kraków. Get acquainted with Podgórze!

Podgórze only became a district of Kraków in 1915. Nonetheless, there was already a settlement on the right bank of the Vistula in the Middle Ages, and its history is closely linked to the royal capital city: is it not here that the Krakus Mound, the grave of the legendary prince and founder of Kraków stands?

Moreover, Podgórze played an important role in the economy of Kraków: it was part of the salt trail from Wieliczka and Bochnia, and also the trading route leading to Hungary and Ruthenia. Quarries operated in the limestone hills of Krzemionki, and gypsum mills and brick kilns developed aplenty.

Late in the 18th century, after the first Partition of Poland, the Vistula became a state border. Kraków, situated on its left bank, remained Polish, while Podgórze became Austrian. In 1784, Joseph II Archduke of Austria granted Podgórze city rights, and the name Josefstadt to commemorate its founder. Awarded very attractive tax privileges, the new city began to attract entrepreneurs, merchants, and craftsmen from the entire Austrian Empire. They were the ones who gave the city its commercial and later also industrial character. It’s interesting to note that Podgórze’s own municipal power plant opened five years prior to that in Kraków; today the building is a part of the complex of Cricoteka – Centre for Documenting the Art of Tadeusz Kantor. Austrian rule was a time of dynamic development for Podgórze. The young city was able to not only a competitor but also a partner for Kraków. The centre of Podgórze, its Market Square, was modelled in the first decades of Josefstadt’s existence, and so was its first cemetery (called the Old Cemetery).

When in the 20th century the old Kraków began to suffocate within its former bounds, city authorities took steps to extend them. In 1915, after laborious negotiations, Podgórze was united with Kraków.

Podgórze also has a tragic page in its history: it was here that in the spring of 1941 the Nazis opened a ghetto: a closed quarter surrounded by a wall, designed for people of Jewish origin.

Be sure to see:

  • Market Square of Podgórze with St Joseph's Church
  • St Benedict's Church and fort
  • the old Cemetery of Podgórze
  • Krakus Mound
  • Cricoteka – Centre for Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor
  • Bohaterów Getta Square
  • The Eagle Pharmacy
  • Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory
  • MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow
  • Sanctuary of Divine Mercy
  • Sanctuary of St John Paul II
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