A private tour of Jewish heritage
Follow in the footsteps of the Jewish community in Warsaw and try kosher food!
publication date: August 29, 2023 | reading time: 4 minutes
Before World War II, Warsaw was one of the main centers of Jewish culture in Europe. Unfortunately, few sites have survived to modern times, so it's all the more reason to take a closer look at them. So go for a walk and discover the Jewish monuments in Warsaw. Learn about the amazing history and culture of Polish Jews.
The first (and obligatory!) point of a tour in the footsteps of Jewish monuments in Warsaw is.... POLIN - Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Located at 6 Anielewicza St., in Warsaw's Muranów district, its purpose is to restore the memory of the rich history of Poland's Jews - from the Middle Ages to the present day.
POLIN is sure to impress you with its glass facade and austere interior, which in duo create a rather unusual architectural combination. Also, worth noting is the architecture of the main hall, whose shape is reminiscent of a ravine, symbolizing the passage of Jews through the Red Sea to the Promised Land.
The museum's space is divided into a permanent exhibition (where you'll learn about nearly a thousand years of Polish Jewish history), temporary exhibitions, and an interactive section with a cinema room and workshop spaces. The museum itself creates a unique social space, full of dialogue, understanding and respect for Jewish history, and there are numerous workshops, film screenings and exhibitions (not always related to Jewish culture). Inside, you'll also have the opportunity to admire a reconstruction of the vaulted ceiling of a replica 17th-century synagogue. In our opinion, POLIN is a must-see when visiting Jewish monuments in Warsaw!
Right next to the POLIN museum, there is the poignant Ghetto Heroes Monument, which was erected at the site of the major struggle against the German occupiers. It was erected to commemorate all those who fought and died in the Warsaw Ghetto, and its western side features a bas-relief of the Struggle. It's a must-see if you're taking a walk in the footsteps of Warsaw Judaica!
The Monument to the Ghetto Heroes was unveiled on April 19, 1948 (less than five years after the event), and two decades later, a symbolic gesture was made there by the German Chancellor, who laid flowers in apology for the crimes committed by the Third Reich. The event was commemorated by naming the square after Willy Brandt and erecting a monument of the same name.
While in the former Warsaw Ghetto, look under your feet and.... on the nearby walls of buildings! There you'll find symbolic ghetto boundaries, the remains of a preserved wall, and 22 memorial plaques on the walls of buildings. Also pay attention to the Umschlagplatz monument on Stawki Street, which resembles a wagon in shape. It was from there that more than 300,000 people were deported to the death camps.
After the tragic events of World War II, there are few Jewish monuments left in Warsaw. To feel the old atmosphere of Warsaw's Judaica, walk to Próżna Street, where mainly the Jewish elite lived. It was they who, at the end of the 19th century, founded the Twarda Street Synagogue, which is the only surviving Jewish house of prayer from before the war.
While admiring Warsaw's Jewish monuments, it is also worth visiting the Jewish cemetery in Wola, whereas many as 250,000 people were buried. Today there are about 150,000 tombstones, the oldest of which dates back to 1809.
Did you know that during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the fighters sought evacuation routes.... through sewers? To commemorate the events associated with this, the Warsaw Ghetto Fighters Evacuation Memorial was erected at 51 Prosta Street.
The monument commemorates the story of a group of fighters who, unfamiliar with the complicated sewer system, entered a sewer on Franciszkańska Street and... were unable to find the exit. The rescue expedition was organized by their colleague, who led the group to the manhole exit on Prosta Street. Today you'll find the Memorial to the Evacuation of Warsaw Ghetto Fighters there.
Downtown, Muranow and Wola are the most important districts of Warsaw, where you will find the remnants of the rich, extremely colorful Jewish culture. These are places of remembrance that are worth devoting some time to - we guarantee they will remain in your memory for a long time.
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