Lublin – Eastern Poland

March, 2015

The name Lublin was first recorded in 1224 with archaeological research proving that the most ancient traces of Lublin go back to 10,000 B.C.

LublinThe beginning of the earliest settlement here in the form of hamlets and pre-fortified structures date from the 6th-7th century.

The history is amazing and gorgeous architecture surrounds you on many walks. You can’t but help stumble upon amazing buildings whilst you explore this city.

Travel

Caught the flash train (although in the 2nd class carriage) from ‪‎Warsaw to Lublin, which took about 2 and a half hours and travelled through flat scenery.

Always nice travelling on European trains as they’re quiet, in good condition, and warm, which is especially important in winter.

Lublin. old town, architecture

Old Town Stroll

Sights

Lublin has something for every traveller, whether discerning or backpacking, this is a beautiful city full of great sites and lovely locals!

Walking around and absorbing the ancient architecture is a pleasure.

As is stopping in for a coffee, a fresh hot chocolate waffle, or some local delicious cuisine at one of the many restaurants. A warming glass of Grzaniec Galicyjski (Polish hot mulled wine) is a must on a cold winter’s jaunt!

Old Town

Thankfully, the Medieval Old Town of Lublin wasn’t flattened and rebuilt following WWII as was Warsaw’s Old Town.

The ancient Krakowska Gate guards the entrance to the magical ancient Old Town.

It’s gorgeous strolling along the 13th Century cobbles surrounded by beautiful architecture that’s withstood the test of time and wars, it’s just amazing to experience. And spent several days walking around the alleyways taking photos.

Many ornamented tenement buildings adorn the square including prominent Renaissance building that captivates any visitor.

 

lublin, poland, old town, architecture

Old Town

old town, lublin, poland, architecture, Krakowska

Krakowska Gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lublin Castle and Museum

On a Thursday in March, entry is free. However, you still pay 10PLN for entry to the Holy Trinity Chapel and Tower (Donjon); usually 20PLN entry on other days (the Chapel is closed on Monday’s).

It’s well-worth exploring this castle as there’s an abundance of information and authentic 15th Century artwork in the Museum, which was established in 1906.

Since then, the museum includes a rich and impressive collection of art representing national and European heritage.

The earliest building in the castle dates back to the 13th Century.

Lublin, poland, castle, museum

Lublin Castle and Museum

lublin, poland, holy trinity chapel, byzantine, paintings

Holy Trinity Chapel – uncovered Byzantine Frescos (c. 1418)

Holy Trinity Chapel

An impressive part of the castle is the Holy Trinity Chapel, which is one of the few remaining well-preserved monuments of Russian Byzantine-Ruthenian polychromes from the early 15th Century.

After 1820 the chapel served as a prison chapel, sharing the fate of the castle.

The inside walls are adorned with Frescos depicting religious donor scenes of which were plastered over in the 1820’s, then re-discovered in 1899.

The walls were plastered and covered with lime ran between 1917-1923, then 1954-1959; and commenced again in 1976 and is an on-going process.

The paintings are stunning and some are quite unusual (demonic) to see for a chapel.

If you’re anything like me and like to read most of the information on offer in a museum, then allow about 4-5 hours for the castle before the information starts to swim around in your head, you start to zone out; resulting in the need for a strong coffee.

 

Day trip to the Majdanek State Museum

Closed Mondays – some buildings are also closed during the winter months.

Take the number 23 bus or the 156 trolley bus (2.8PLN) from the city and get off at the Majdanek stop.

The stone Monument to Struggle and Martyrdom is visible from afar including the bus stop, so, you won’t get lost.

As the oldest museum (1944) created on the grounds of the former Nazi Concentration Camp in Europe, it has been re-modelled several times since. However, the barracks, fences, bunker including the gas chamber, crematorium, and lookout posts are still original.

On the day of our visit, loads of black crows were dispersed across the grounds, which made the museum grounds even more ominous. Particularly, as I hadn’t seen any black grows (just the usual Polish Pigeons) in Lublin until today.

The museum is a testament to the martyrdom of the people murdered in this camp.

Majdanek, poland, Lublin concentration camp

Majdanek Watchtowers

Even after 70 years, this area still resonates the horrors it witnessed.

I still can’t believe that back then although the local population knew what was occurring at the Majdanek camp (locals could hear screams, guns shots, machine gun fire, and smell/see the crematorium smoke), few made an attempt to help these wretched souls from their heinous fate.

Today, the surrounding city has almost encroached to the perimeter of the camp’s fences. I’m not sure that I’d like to live next to a former extermination camp, even today. This sometimes takes away from the experience as there is also a busy road running alongside the grounds, with the usual noise emitted from a main road.

Majdanek, Lublin, Poland, concentration camp

Fence enclosure

As you enter the Gas chamber, the chemical smell of Zyklon B still permeates the cold concrete walls and empty canisters are piled high in one room, which are not all the canisters by any means, but proves to cement what occurred here.

The Crematorium building houses 12 furnaces and although glassed off so visitors cannot touch anything, the smell is still pungent and evidence of ash still remains in the open furnaces.

The whole experience is very sobering.

The 5km (round-trip) walk from the Visitor Centre is well-signed with enough information, history, original photos, and survivor’s testaments about each site along the way, to keep you busy for the day.

Monument to Struggle and Martyrdom, Majdanek, poland

Monument to Struggle and Martyrdom

We couldn’t have picked a better time to visit, as there were 2 tour buses with Israeli students accompanied by about 12 civilian-clothed security guards also visiting.

The students flew large Israeli flags whilst walking with several students wrapping themselves up in flags, and sang at several sites. This made it difficult to really experience some of the barracks in quietness as the guards were on edge checking our movements constantly, and falling behind the groups to keep an eye on us; we were the only visitors.

If this wasn’t enough, one of their security guards approached us and asked several questions, such as, where we were from then requested we not take photos of the security guards or the group. I was pretty annoyed as he didn’t work for the museum nor did he have any right to question us; there were no signs anywhere stating photographs were prohibited.

Perhaps if the groups had acted as typical tour groups then we would not have noticed anything unusual…why make yourself an obvious target?

Majdanek, concentration camp, poland, lublin

Watchtower

Accommodation

Apartamenty Królewska (ul. Królewska 6, 20-109) – About a 2-kilometre taxi ride (20PLN) took us to our lovely apartment, which is owned by the Królewska Hostel and down the road a little. Gorgeous 13-foot high ceilings and original parquetry floors in a beautiful space awaits you here. This was a former Jewish doctor’s residence from the turn of the 20th century that’s been chopped up into one-bedroom apartments and is right across the road to amazing Renaissance churches.

Renaissance, window, view, Poland, Lublin

Overlooking Renaissance architecture – view from the apartment

The apartment is about a 5-minute walk to the Old Town’s entrance gate, so everything is very central.

Food

  • Grycan Parlour (Lipowa 13) – A favourite haunt for great coffee, service, and devilish ice-cream deserts, when there’s a deal on it’s even more tempting – seems like we can’t walk past this place without popping in for something. Although you can buy Grycan ice cream in local supermarkets, the 500 grams is not much cheaper than buying it at one of the sit-down Grycan parlours. The pot of tea is great value and all hot drinks come with a delicious morsel biscuit on the side.
  • Alma Supermarket (in new mall behind the Lublin Castle) – This supermarket has everything you could possibly need and the prices are pretty reasonable. This is a grocery haunt as we cooked all of our meals and ate breakfast at the apartment to keep the daily budget down. The mall is pretty swish and you can spend many hours and much money wandering around the upmarket stores.

Lublin to Zamość

The 2-hour train journey from the main train station in Lublin to Zamość is supposed to be in a very new modern train.

I’m hoping the train is on time but also looking forward to some quiet writing time.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Poland at Image Earth Travel.

street art, poland, lublin, architecture, photography

Street Art in the Old Town

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