Street Art in Krakow: Colourful, Cultural and Controversial

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Krakow is one of my favourite cities in the world. Because Krakow has it all: history, character, a chill vibe, a WEALTH of cafes, museums and green spaces. But, most importantly for me, the street art in Krakow is diverse and abundant.

Krakow has multiple artistic festivals every year. Add to this a large number of blank, empty sides of buildings and an ever-growing artistic subculture and you’ve got a recipe for a thriving street art hotspot!

Below are highlights of some of our favourite murals (and sculptures!) from our most recent trip to Krakow. A little disclaimer: I have not put exact and precise locations for each of these street art pieces in this article. I do have a good reason for this.

I find knowing exactly where something is tends to make people beeline for it directly, without taking in and appreciating everything around them. And then once it’s found, they leave immediately to get to the next thing.

It makes for a less organic experience as you don’t soak up the culture as well. When the Mona Lisa is signposted in the Louvre, people go there, take a pic, and scram, when there’s so much more they haven’t seen!

Anyhoo, with that said, let’s dive right in and discuss where to find the best street art in Krakow…

Street Art in Kazimierz: The Old Jewish Quarter

Judah by Pil Peled

Jewish heritage Krakow street art: Judah by Pil Peled

Sometimes life imitates art. Sometimes, life gets in the way of art. The latter is the case for this mural, which may (and I know the odds are slim) have been part-inspired by Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke.

Israeli artist Pil Peled created this mural, located in the Kazimierz district, in July 2013 for the Jewish Culture Festival. At that time, I imagine, there wasn’t a food court covering the bottom half of the mural (which makes it difficult to see close up), but at least the main part is still visible from across the street.

The lower half shows the figure (a young child) wearing a black t-shirt with “Judah” written on it (hence the name). According to the artist, the lion headdress represents the Jewish people’s fight for survival, while the child represents the small and the scared. Together, they combine to show the need to fight for survival.

Ephraim Moses Lilien by the Broken Fingaz Graffiti Crew

Jewish heritage street art in Krakow: Ephraim Moses Lilien by the Broken Fingaz Graffiti Crew

This mural/collage was also painted for the Jewish Culture Festival, but in 2014; one year after Judah. It celebrates the life and work of Ephraim Moses Lilien, a Polish illustrator and photographer who, along with Jewish artist Boris Schatz, helped create the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.

A little detail that I enjoy in street artists is when they “sign” a work using an image instead of a written signature. When viewing this piece, you can see Lilien looking at a segmented finger – it’s literally a broken finger. It’s an excellent way for the crew to subtly incorporate themselves into the work.

For God’s Sake, Censorship is Everywhere by Pikaso

Political street art in Krakow: For God's Sake, Censorship is Everywhere by Pikaso

From a well-known subject with many references to a redacted, faceless anonymity: here’s a piece with some extra context behind it.

International street artist Pikaso was taking part in the Grolsch ArtBoom festival in 2012 when this mural was created. However, this is not the original design he submitted – that one was rejected by the authorities. As a response, he created this instead, with the face deliberately “slashed through”, as a protest against artist censorship.

Street Art in Krakow City Centre

The Wall Space outside BC24 Urban Gallery

Mural of

BC24 Urban Gallery is a store that specialises in urban apparel, skateboarding equipment, comic books … loads of cool stuff. But they also use their street-facing wall space for excellent murals in order to catch the eye of the wandering potential customer.

As a form of human magpie, I was caught hook, line and sinker. Any shop that wants to give up its windows and throw up good artwork instead is ok by me.

Due to the nature of the place, the artwork changes quite frequently, which is excellent for repeat trips to Krakow as there will always be something new!

Owls by Bronislaw Chromy

Owls by Bronislaw Chromy is a playful piece of Krakow street art

This one is a three-dimensional piece of Krakow street art – and it’s adorable! Slightly creepy as well, perhaps, but adorable nonetheless.

Sculpted by Chromy in 1961, this curious owl family resides in Planty Park and is fully available to go and see 24/7. Though at night time they’ll probably be able to see you better than you can see them, what with them being owls and all.

Mural no. 658 by M-City

M-City is one of Poland’s most prolific muralists, which probably explains why this one has such a functionary title. Which is a shame, as the piece depicts a fantastical subversion of reality.

This one makes me think of the dreamworld moments from Inception or Doctor Strange (another movie reference, I know, but I am a bit of a cinephile). For a more artistic lilt, it also reminds me of the artistic world of Shaun Tan.

Mural no. 658 was created for the Artboom Festival in 2012, and is currently the artist’s only work in Krakow. Go see it quickly, before they build a building next to it!

Chester Bennington by Pieksa

Chester Bennington by Pieksa in Krakow is a lovely street art memorial

Krakow-based Polish street artist Pieksa creates stunning, photorealistic murals of his subjects, and this piece of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington is no exception.

The mural can be found near to Krakow train station, and was made in tribute to Bennington following the singer’s tragic death in 2017. Despite the sad nature of his passing, I’m glad that Pieksa has represented Bennington in a moment of warm, good-natured happiness.

Street Art in Podgórze: Across the River

Liberator by students from the Jagiellonian University

Liberator by students from the Jagiellonian University

This mural was put in place in 2018 with support from the city of Krakow, and commemorates the flight of the RAF B-24 Liberator KG933 during WWII on August 16th 1944.

Having successfully dropped supplies to insurgents during the Warsaw Uprising, the Liberator and its six crew members were shot down by the German Luftwaffe. Three men died on impact, but three managed to bail out and survive the crash. Unfortunately, only the fate of one of them is known for certain: Flight Lieutenant Allan Hammet managed to find medical aid at a nearby farmhouse and managed to escape the Nazis and survive the war.

The black and white colour scheme gives the mural an appropriate solemn feel, and also helps to remind me of the wartime setting (the black and white bringing old war films to my mind). I also love the way the smoke and flames from the plane blend seamlessly into the pilot’s facial profile. Simple, and effective.

Origami Swans – Artist Unknown

These origami swans were some of our favourite Krakow street art

We accidentally stumbled across this wonderful semi-surrealist mural while heading to prominent another area of Krakow street art, just across the river in the Zabłocie district. Sadly the artist’s tag has been worn away, and I’ve not found any account of who put it up.

Finding murals unexpectedly is, incidentally, my favourite way to discover street art. I love the surprise and excitement of just happening upon something so thought-provoking, especially in unexpected places. And the best part is that it can happen almost anywhere, at any time!

Literary Mural by Znaczy Się New Art Foundation

We loved this literary street art mural in Krakow

This simple yet effective piece of Krakow street art has an excellent message. If you’re heading to the Schindler factory from the city you will probably pass it along the way.

Created by Znaczy Się New Art Foundation in conjunction with the Krakow Festival Office, this literary themed street art is designed to make people want to pick up a good book. It’s a message that Dagney and I wholeheartedly support!

Appropriately, the words printed are book titles and quotes, all in Polish, and are laid out in the style of books sitting on bookshelves.

My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love (caricature) by Lake Oner

My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love (caricature) by Lake Oner

Now that’s a title. This one may not be permanent or unique, as I’ve seen versions of it feature in a couple of places while researching it. In any case, it was certainly striking enough to want to stop, appreciate and capture it!

This piece by Lake Oner is a caricature of one of the most famous street art murals in the world – the original My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love (or MGHMTSTDL for short) lies painted onto the remains of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany.

A politically motivated graffiti reproduction of the famous “fraternal kiss” photograph between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, this version seems to put them in a little car, having just crashed through the wall like the Kool Aid Man. Oh yeah ….

Lem’s Robot by Filip Kużniarz

Lem's Robot by Filip Kużniarz

Lem’s Robot (referring to author Stanisław Lem) stands in the Podgórze district. Created in November 2012 for the Conrad Festival of Literature, it aptly dominates the crossroads and is still in excellent condition.

The quotation at the top, alongside a representation of the author’s head, is from Lem’s Dialogues and reads: “In the end, people will be dwarfed down to the size of brainless servants of the iron geniuses and, perhaps, will begin to venerate them as gods,” which is nicely apocalyptic.

Ding, Dong, Dumb by Blu

Ding Dong Dumb by artist Blu is political street art in Krakow

Another mural that is definitely showing signs of wear is global street artist Blu’s controversial swipe at the Polish people’s relationship with the Catholic Church. Ding Dong Dumb was painted in 2011 and depicts scores of gawking, empty-eyed zombie people staring up as they receive the blaring commands of some higher power, disguised as a bell that presumably calls them to prayer.

It’s visually evocative and, being placed in the old Jewish Ghetto area, I can see why it caused a stir. The car park in front of it, which provides a large open-air space, means that for many people you’re going to see it on a daily basis whether you like it or not, which appropriately fits its theme.

Street Art at the Liban Quarry (Kamieniołom Liban) area – Various Artists

We talked about this excellent hidden gem in our post about cool and unusual things to do in Krakow, as we love abandoned and derelict places. As with many such environments, it has become something of a graffiti playground for anyone willing to go in search of either a spare wall or a high-up surface on any of the empty buildings that still stand there.

Street art of Jigsaw and monster friend at Liban Quarry, Krakow
Jigsaw’s puppet from the Saw movie franchise, and friend(?) – artist unknown

There are a myriad of different murals and tags all over the area, including a (seemingly burnt out) building full of them. Make sure you look up occasionally too; as I said, graffiti artists are not strangers to climbing!

Graffiti tag at the Liban Quary, Krakow
A beautiful ’80s-esque piece – artist unknown
Colorful Krakow Street art at the Liban Quarry
We saw this long, thin fellow pop up a couple of times in the city – artist unknown

Sadly, I don’t know the names of the artists who threw these pieces up – if you do, please let us know in the comments below!

More Street Art Articles You Might Enjoy
Wandering the Walls of Warsaw
Changing Perceptions About Street Art in London
Fall in Love with the Quirky Statues of Prague
The Fun & Creepy Statues of the Hill of Witches

=> Check out our Street Art Page for even more kick ass street art!

More Posts About Poland
Cool and Unusual Things to do in Krakow
WWII Sites and Museums in Krakow
Recharging at Pinball Station in Warsaw
Dark Tourism Sites and Museums in Warsaw
Visiting the Katyn Museum

Have you ever been to Krakow? What street art pieces blew your mind the most? Did you make any of them?! Let us know in the comments below!

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