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Welcome to Lublin

Lublin is the capital and the largest city in the Lubelskie Province and Eastern Poland. Home to five public universities, including the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin and Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, and also a wide range of private universities, it is also the leading centre of higher education in the region. The City boasts a 700-year-long history and monuments that are unique within Poland and Europe. Next to Kraków, Lublin has one of the most beautiful Old Towns there is in Poland. And the historic heritage of a melting pot of cultures that this City once was lends it an aura of uniqueness and magic.

Lublin is home to numerous unique cultural events. Situated at the frontier between the European Union and Eastern Europe, Lublin has for many years played host to popular and renowned international festivals dedicated to theatre, music and literature. This became the spur for the city to compete for the European Capital of Culture title. A wide selection of theatres, galleries and museums, and also students clubs, art cafés and pubs, many of them tucked inside the historic tenement houses in the Old Town, offer a place of entertainment and rest for both the local population and the ever-growing number of tourists.

Being among the most beautiful cities in Poland, Lublin has a lot to offer to the film industry. The exceptional Old Town, with all its archways, mysterious backyards, alleys and opulent architecture, accompanied by the bleak and yet intriguing industrial venues spread around the City, and also the picturesque landscapes of the Zemborzyce Artificial Lake, make for an attractive filming location that has drawn film crews for many years. What certainly attracts them here is also the multicultural nature of Lublin and the entire region that can off er a unique background for film shoots. Lublin can also boast to have been a shooting location for some major international productions, including the Oscar-winning "The Reader", the British-American Aryan Couple, and the Polish-Israeli "Wiosna 1941 (Spring 1941)", and also the opening part of Andrzej Wajda's "Kronika wypadków miłosnych (A Chronicle of Amorous Accidents)". Also shot in Lublin were such productions as "Sława i Chwała (Fame and Glory)" by Kazimierz Kutz, J. Antczak's "Chopin. Pragnienie miłości (Chopin. Desire for Love)", J. Hoffman's "Ogniem i mieczem (With Fire and Sword)", R. Gliński's "Kamienie na szaniec (Stones on the Barricade)", as well as "Czarne Chmury (Black Clouds)" (a 1973 TV series), "Modrzejewska", "Determinator" and "Wszystko przed nami (The best is yet to come)".

With a network of designated tourist routes, Lublin provides tourists with themed tours around the City. The Multicultural Trail runs from the Monument of the Union of Lublin to Czwartek Hill. The Architectural Trail originates in the Krakowska Gate and leads through the City Centre to Lublin Castle. The Jagiellonian Trail of the Union of Lublin stretches from Lublin Castle to Plac Litewski, and the Heritage Trail of the Lublin Jews follows the streets of the Old Town and the Podzamcze District. Those who want to explore the Trail of the Famous Lubliners will have to start from Lublin Castle and proceed through the Old Town and the City Centre up to the monument of Maria Curie-Skłodowska within the campus of Maria Curie-Skłodowska University. For detailed information about the routes, contact Lubelski Ośrodek Informacji Turystyczneji Kulturalnej (The Lublin Tourist Information Centre).

Lublin pedestrian street
Lublin pedestrian street
Lublin by night
Lublin by night

A short history of the city

The history of Lublin began in the Middle Ages, when the town was a trade settlement and a guard post on the eastern border of a young Polish state. The first written information about it dates back to the 12th century, and then in 1317 it was granted city rights. Its position was favourable on the trade route to the Black Sea, while its peripheral location resulted in numerous invasions.

In the 15th century Lublin was fortified, strengthened with towers and gates, and a castle of brick was constructed. Now only one tower and the Gothic chapel with its extraordinary frescoes funded by King Wladyslaw Jagiello survive from the original building. This monarch was particularly gracious for the city, making it the capital of a province and granting it many privileges.

As a trade centre, it lured people of different nationalities, turning into a common home for Poles, Jews, Ruthenians, Germans and Armenians. It was also an important centre of the Reformation movement that evolved peacefully in Poland. In Lublin lived and died Jan Kochanowski, the father of modern Polish literature and the greatest Polish poet before the 19th century.

In the 16th century Lublin witnessed one of the most crucial events in Polish history – the signing of the pact between Poland and Lithuania. This is known as the Lublin Union, and marked the beginning of the largest mainland state in Europe, which included the lands of Rus and spread from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

The 17th century brought widespread destruction of the city, caused by wars with the Cossacks and the Swedes and due to epidemics. After the partitions of Poland, Lublin found itself first in the Austrian Empire, but after the Napoleonic wars it passed into Russian hands. Following World War I Lublin returned to Poland, and for a short period was the capital of the newly reborn state of Poland. Soon after this event came the establishing of the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL).

Under Nazi occupation during World War II, many citizens of Lublin, especially Jews, were killed at the local concentration camp in Majdanek, a suburb of the city. Two Jewish districts (Podzamcze, located around the castle, and the western suburb of Wieniawa) were razed to the ground.

In 1944 Lublin was again briefly the capital of Poland, when Polish communists created a government there, later taking control over the whole country. The second university was founded and a programme of rapid industrialisation was introduced. In 1980 the workers from Lublin and nearby Swidnik factories went on strike over the price of meat, an event that started the wave of strikes that led to the emergence of Solidarity.

Majdanek watch tower
State Museum at Majdanek
Lublin Union 1569
Lublin Union 1569

Sights of Lublin

1. Old Town 2. Lublin Castle 3. Donjon 4. Holy Trinity Chapel 5. Grodzka Gate 6. Pod Fortuna Cellar 7. Crown Tribunal and the underground route 8. Dominican Church and Monastery 9. Stary Theatre 10. Trinity Tower 11. Lublin Archcathedral 12. Krakow Gate 13. Dom Slow-the printing chamber 14. State Museum at Majdanek 15. Chachmai Lublin Yeshiva 16. Lublin Village Open Air Museum Lublin map

1. The Old Town

The Old Town of Lublin stands among the most beautiful sites of its kind in Poland. It stands out with its typically-mediaeval spatial layout and a plethora of ornamented historic tenement houses, including most prominently those dating back to the Renaissance, such as those at 12 Rynek (of the Konopnica Family), 2 Rynek (of Klonowica) and 8 Rynek (of the Lubomelski Family). The Old City enraptures its visitors with a genuine atmosphere of an ages-old place. Entry into this magical site is guarded by the ancient Krakowska Gate, a major architectural landmark of Lublin.

2. Lublin Castle

Lublin's royal castle dates from the 12th and 13th centuries, though it's been rebuilt many times over the years. The castle is adjacent to the Old Town and close to the city center. The stone keep is the tallest building of the castle. The most momentous event in the castle's history was the signing in 1569 of the Union of Lublin, the founding act of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The castle fell into disrepair in the 17th century. A complete reconstruction of the castle was carried out between 1826 and 1828. The castle served as a prison from 1831 until 1954 under consecutive Tsarist, Polish, German, Soviet and again Polish regimes. Since 1957 Lublin Castle has been the main site of the Lublin Museum.

Lublin Old Town
Lublin Old Town
Lublin Castle
Lublin Castle

3. The Donjon

Standing by the southern slope of the hill, the central tower of Lublin Castle was erected in the 13th century as a defensive and residential structure. This precious piece of Romanesque art is one of the oldest structures in the Lublin Region and the oldest fully-preserved landmark of brick architecture in Lublin. The donjon has three overground storeys and a 350-centimetrethick wall. Until only recently, it has been viewable only from the outside. Since 2012, its interiors have been opened to visitors. Those determined enough to ascend the irregularly-shaped stairs 30 metres up into the air will reach a viewing point, set up at the top of the tower to offer a view of the city.

4. The Holy Trinity Chapel

Located within Lublin Castle, the Holy Trinity Chapel is one of the most valuable landmarks of mediaeval art not only in Poland, but also in Europe. Perhaps for this reason it was given the European Heritage Label. The Chapel was erected by King Casimir III the Great and the admirable Russian-Byzantine wall paintings that have adorned it to this day were endowed by Władysław Jagiełło. Like no other place in Europe, the Chapel represents a testimony to the intermingling cultures of the West and the East, as this Roman Catholic church is also adorned by the pictures of the fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Donjon
The Donjon
Holy Trinity Chapel
The Holy Trinity Chapel

5. Grodzka Gate

The "Grodzka Gate - NN Theatre" centre is a cultural institution which acts for national heritage, culture and education protection. The Grodzka Gate is also known as the Jewish Gate that historically used to be a passage from the Christian to the Jewish part of the city.

6. The Pod Fortuna Cellar

The "Pod Fortuną" Cellar is located in the historic tenement house of the Lubomelski Family (8 Rynek), and consists of 10 rooms. Nine of them include a contemporarily arranged exhibition consisting of multimedia presentations, visualisations and exhibits presenting the history of Lublin. The tenth room is the old winery, with walls covered with Renaissance polychromy-paintings presenting secular motifs unique in national terms. Ten paintings placed on the walls, the fireplace eaves and the vault include numerous references to antiquity (mythology and literature) and to the Renaissance tradition.

Grodzka Gate
Grodzka Gate
Fortuna Cellar house
Fortuna Cellar house

7. The Crown Tribunal and the underground route

In the middle of the Old Town Market there is the building of the Crown Tribunal. Today it houses, among other offices, Lublin's Registry Office. The Crown Tribunal was established in 1578 and it was the Supreme Court for the gentry in the Małopolska Region. One of the most famous of Lublin's legends is connected with the tribunal. It is said that in 1637, a "devil's trial" took place here: the devil himself gave a fairer verdict than the venal jury judges in a lawsuit of a poor widow against a rich magnate. The proof of the devil's intervention is the "Devil's Hand", a mark burnt on a table which now can be seen in the hall of Lublin Castle. This over 200-metre-long underground route starts in the dungeons of the Crown Tribunal and runs under the Old Town, through fourteen mysterious chambers.

8. The Dominican Church

The Dominican Church is one of the most valuable sacral buildings in Lublin. The church and the monastery were endowed by King Casimir the Great in 1342. In 1569, after the Union of Lublin had been concluded, a thanksgiving Mass with the presence of King Sigismund Augustus was celebrated in the church. At that time, the temple was already renowned for one of the most sacred relics in the world, the Holy Cross Relics, kept within its walls. Their presence was linked with numerous extraordinary and miraculous events. According to one of the legends, a procession carrying a reliquary with the Holy Cross Relics saved Lublin from a terrible fire in 1719. Unfortunately, in 1991 the relics, kept in the church for centuries, were stolen. The Dominican Monastery Complex in Lublin also received the European Heritage Label. The majority is available for sightseeing, with the gallery of paintings and the monastery treasury.

Crown Tribunal
The Crown Tribunal
Dominican church
Dominican church

9. The Stary Theatre

Built in 1822, this is the second-oldest theatre building in Poland after the Old Theatre in Kraków. Initially it housed the Lublin drama and opera scene, and in the 20th century also a cinema. From the last screening in 1981 it fell into disrepair until it was taken over by the city in 2007. In the last couple of years, saved from ruin, it has gone through a thorough modernisation to once again become the site of various cultural events: performances, concerts and also meetings, debates and educational activities for children. The visitors can view the auditorium, the backstage, and the archaeological exhibition displayed in the foyer.

10. The Trinity Tower

This Gothic Revival style tower is the highest historic viewing point in Lublin. From the 40-metre-high tower you can see a panorama of the city. The name of the structure comes from the Trinitarian Order; monks from the order stayed in the monastery buildings, previously occupied by the Jesuits. The tower houses the Archdiocesan Museum of Religious Art with collections of historic sacral objects: paintings, icons, sculptures, bells, including Maria, the largest bell in Lublin, which rings only on special occasions.

Stary Theatre
Stary Theatre
Trinitarian Tower
Trinitarian Tower

11. Lublin Archcathedral

The St. John the Baptist Cathedral is a former Jesuit church that was built between 1592 and 1617. It was one of the first baroque churches in Poland. It is said that when standing in the corners diagonally one can talk to the other person in a whisper, while the acoustic waves are inaudible for a person standing, for example, in the middle of the hall.

12. Krakow Gate

The 14th-century Krakow Gate is the only significant surviving remnant of the fortified walls that once surrounded the Old Town. The Gothic-style gate was conceived during the reign of Kazimierz III Wielki following the Mongol attack in 1341. It received its octagonal Renaissance structure in the 16th century, and its Baroque crown in 1782. At present, it serves as a Lublin History Museum.

Lublin Archcathedral
Lublin Archcathedral
Krakow Gate
Krakow Gate

13. Dom Słów-the printing chamber

The Printing Chamber run by the "Brama Grodzka - Teatr NN" Centre is located at 1 żmigród Street in the rooms of the pre-war "Popularna" printing house. The place owes its uniqueness to the historic printing, typesetting and bookbinding machines and equipment, presented in the permanent exhibition. Today's Printing Chamber is working on a cultural heritage protection programme associated with books. It presents temporary exhibitions and holds educational workshops for children and adolescents. Their participants can make their own classic-laid paper, prepare typesetting or print on a press. The exhibition "The power of the freedom of expression", focussing on the independent publishing activities in Lublin, is an important element of the Chamber. Based on the activities of the Printing Chamber, "Dom Słów (the House of Words)" is being created; it is going to be an interdisciplinary institution presenting the fundamental role of spoken and printed word in culture and social life.

14. The State Museum at Majdanek

The Museum covers the area of the former Nazi concentration camp, in which many thousands of people from 26 European countries were murdered, the majority of whom were Jews, Poles and Russians. Fenced with barbed wire, with barracks, guard towers and the historic monument and mausoleum with ashes, the museum is a testimony to the martyrdom of people murdered in the camp.

Don Slow
Dom Słów-the printing chamber
Majdanek
Majdanek

15. The Chachmai Lublin Yeshiva

The previous School of the Wise Men of Lublin is evidence of the profound importance of the Jewish Diaspora in Lublin before World War II. The spacious building was constructed in 1930 through donations from the Jewish community from all over the world. The school's teachings were the continuation of the Talmudic teaching traditions from Old Polish times. It was one of the biggest and the most prestigious rabbinic schools in the world, and regarded as the most modern at the time, with its Rabbi students being very sought-after. The language taught at the school was Hebrew but Yiddish was used in everyday life. The school operated until 1939. The original auditorium, which was previously used as a synagogue, has been preserved. After World War II, the building was used by the Medical Academy of Lublin and in 2003 it was handed over to the Lublin Jewish community.

16. The Lublin Village Open Air Museum

In the Sławinek District, on an area of 27 hectares, there is a unique exhibition which presents the life of the region's inhabitants in the years past. It contains beautiful old windmills, farmsteads and thatched cottages, still vibrant with life during haying and harvest festivals organised by the museum. There is also "the Central European provincial town", which includes 46 architectural objects characteristic of small towns of 1930s in south-eastern Poland and the neighbouring regions. The Lublin Village Open Air Museum is a place where time seems to have stopped.

Chachmai Lublin Yeshiva
Chachmai Lublin Yeshiva
Lublin Village Open Air Museum
Lublin Village Open Air Museum


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