Jama Michalika is less of a café, and more of a lesson in local history. This antico café, established in Krakow Poland in 1895, was the very site in which Poland’s Art Nuovo movement, Mloda Polska, was founded.
Most artists who chose Jama Michalika as their place of refuge would put up their art along the walls of the grand venue, turning it into part café, part art gallery.
The café Is located at Floriańska Street in Kraków, the capital of the Lesser Poland region, and is one of the oldest café’s in Krakow. It was inaugurated by Jan Apolinary Michalik under a different name- Cukiernia Lwowska (Lwów Confiserie).
However, over time it earned the current name which means “Michalik’s Cave” since, originally, Michalik could only afford to rent out a single room for his café, without any windows!
These days, the central café tries to continue its tradition of welcoming and encouraging young artists by offering students of the nearby Academy of Fine Arts to eat without charge if they offer a small piece of art to the café in return.
Throughout history, this café was also a place that housed many performances. In 1905, the cabaret Zielony Balonik began performing here. There were also puppet shows, which were wildly popular at the time and often were designed to counter bigotry and imperial censorship.
It remains one of the most popular and quirky cafes’ in Europe today. Adorned with caricatured of cabaret artists, actors and writers who have visited over the years, people often come to Jama Michalika just to survey the interesting surroundings.
Its secret backroom hideout and delicious bigos stew are two other draw-cards for this unique café. Other recommendations from the extensive menu include the beef ribs and pork chop with friend cabbage.