A district rich in natural beauty, tragic history and unusual attractions, the first signs of settlement in Podgórze date from over ten thousand years ago, though the Swedish invasion in the 17th century saw much of Podgórze levelled. Awarded the rights of a free city in 1784 by the Austrian Emperor Joseph II, the town was eventually incorporated as Kraków’s fourth district in 1915, and the following decades saw its aggressive development; quarries and brickworks were constructed, and a string of military forts added, of which Fort Benedict is the only still standing. An indication of Podgórze’s age is Krakus Mound, excavations of which have dated it to the Iron Age. However, the trespasses of more recent history are what people most associate with the district.
On March 21, 1941, the entire Jewish population residing in Kazimierz were marched across the Silesian Uprisings Bridge and crammed into what was to become known as the Podgórze Ghetto. Traces of the Ghetto still exist, including a prominent stretch of the wall on ul. Lwowska. Liquidated on March 14, 1943, the majority of the Ghetto's residents were murdered there, while others met death in the nearby Liban quarry and Płaszów concentration camp, or in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bełżec. The opening of the Schindler’s Factory Museum in 2010 not only did much towards helping the city bury the ghosts of the Holocaust, but it also established Podgórze as a bona fide tourist destination. With plenty to see and do, you could easily spend days exploring the historic centre of Podgórze (which also happens to be the area of the former Jewish Ghetto), the museums of industrial Zabłocie (including Schindler's Factory), and the mysterious and evocative hills of Krzemionki en route to Krakus Mound.
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