Podgórze was proclaimed as a free city on the power of a decree of Emperor Joseph II in 1784. The imperial privileges, its location on trading routes, and the privileges granting it religious freedom allowed it to develop into an independent hub. Kraków and Podgórze were eventually united on 4 July 1915. Podgórze has the mysterious Krakus Mound, built in or before the 8th century, in its symbolical centre, and the Podgórski Cemetery on its slopes is an important Kraków necropolis. On its other side, the unique St Benedict Fort, a remnant of the Kraków Fortress, stands on Lasoty Hill, with the diminutive Gothic Church of St Benedict nestled on the nearby limestone ridge. Krzemionki rock is topped by the headquarters of Kraków TV with its tower, one of the highest points in the city.
Old Podgórze stretches out below Krzemionki, with the market square and the neo-Gothic Church of St Joseph at its centre. Across the road is the edge of the former Kraków Ghetto set up by the Nazis. It is commemorated by the monument with empty chairs in Plac Bohaterów Getta square, where the Pharmacy “Under the Eagle”, now a museum, operated during the war. Memory of the Shoah is also maintained by the museum now located in the Oskar Schindler Enamel Factory, behind which is the MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art Kraków.