One of the creepiest, most forgotten places in Kraków, the Liban Quarry should first and foremost be a place of remembrance for the victims of the Nazi labour camp that operated here during Kraków's WWII occupation. That said, the site lies in overgrown abandon today, slowly becoming a nature sanctuary for waterfowl, birds of prey, pheasants and other various creatures (we've even seen an unattended horse grazing). Incredible limestone cliffs, ponds and dense vegetation are as breath-taking as the rusting refinery equipment, fence posts, gravestones and tangles of barbed wire (be careful!) that can still be found amongst the brush here.
The limestone company 'Liban and Ehrenpreis,' run by two well-known Jewish industrial families from Podgórze, established a quarry here in 1873. By the end of the 19th century a complex of buildings was established within the quarry and a railway line laid as the families enjoyed an excellent reputation locally and abroad. However, during Nazi occupation, Liban was set-up as a cruel penal camp where 800 young Poles were kept prisoner from 1942 to 1944 performing forced labour. A small, discreet, overgrown and easily overlooked memorial for 21 inmates executed during the liquidation of the camp lies beside the cliffside at the Za Torem end of the site.
In 1993 Steven Spielberg used Liban as the set of all the scenes from Schindler's List that take place in the Płaszów concentration camp. Not wanting to use the nearby site of the camp itself out of respect, it must have taken little imagination on his part to settle upon Liban. During filming 34 barracks and watchtowers were set-up around the quarry, and though most of the set was subsequently removed, some traces remain confusingly mixed with the genuine historical leftovers from the war, making it unclear just how uncomfortable you should feel as you walk amongst the rusty machinery and many gallows-like fence posts - some still strung with barbed wire. Certainly, the most disturbing site is the central pathway paved with Jewish headstones, which we can put you at ease by assuring you is not genuine. An incredibly evocative, yet peaceful and beautiful site, Liban allows you to explore Kraków's World War II history on your own terms, interpreting it as you like without the hand-holding of history books or tourist bureaus. Enter the quarry at your own risk by following a trail from Krakus Mound toward Podgórze Cemetery along the rim of and into the quarry, or try your luck from ul. Za Torem; though there is nothing unlawful about being in the quarry, city employees of the Housing Office buildings at the quarry's entrance have been known to aggravatedly deny entry or ask people to leave. Rumour is that plans are afoot for the city to clean up the quarry and create a proper recreation area here in 2021, but no confirmation on that as of yet.