Kazimierz was a separate city until the 18th/19th centuries. Chartered in 1335 by King Casimir the Great, in its early years it was almost the same size as its neighbour, Kraków. The medieval built heritage includes the Old Synagogue, the Corpus Christi Church, the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, and the Augustinian Monastery, one of the most beautiful and best-preserved Gothic complexes in Poland.
Overlooking the Vistula is Skałka: the Church “on the Rock” with famous Poles buried in its vaults. Late in the 15th century, Jews began to settle in Kazimierz and developed an important cultural centre here. Among other buildings, they built seven synagogues, a complex that is unique on European scale. The Jewish settlement first focused around Szeroka Street, where the annual Jewish Culture Festival, with its Shalom in Szeroka finale, is now held.