The name Lublin in eastern Poland was first recorded in 1224 with archaeological research proving that the most ancient traces of Lublin date back to 10,000 B.C.
Tip: This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.
Catching the flash train – although in the 2nd class carriage – from Warsaw to Lublin, only takes around 2.5 hours and you travel through flat scenery.
It’s always relaxed travelling on European trains as they’re quiet, in good condition, and warm, which is especially important during winter.
The 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.
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 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!
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 Castle and Museum
On a Thursday in March, entry to the castle is free. Although, 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 a Monday.
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.
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 between 1917-1923. Restoration occurred between 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 in 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, and you need a strong coffee.
Day trip to the Majdanek State Museum
Closed Mondays – some buildings are also closed during the winter months.
Getting to Majdanek
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, Majdanek has been re-modelled several times since. The barracks, fences, bunker including the gas chamber, crematorium, and lookout posts are still original.
Loads of black crows are dispersed across the grounds, which make the museum grounds even more ominous – especially, as I haven’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.
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 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.
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 – these are not all the canisters by any means, but prove to cement what occurred.
The Crematorium building houses 12 furnaces and although glassed off so visitors cannot touch anything. The smell is still pungent. Evidence of ash still remains in the open furnaces.
The whole experience is very sobering and confronting.
The 5-kilometre (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 whole day.
Painful tour group
We couldn’t have picked a better time to visit as there are 2 tour buses with Israeli students accompanied by 12 civilian-clothed security guards also visiting.
The students fly large Israeli flags whilst walking through the grounds and wrap themselves up in flags whilst singing at several sites.
This makes it difficult to really experience some of the barracks in quietness as the guards are on edge checking our movements constantly, and falling behind the groups to keep an eye on us – we are the only other visitors.
If this isn’t enough, one of the security guards approach us and ask several questions, such as, where are we from then requested us not take photos of the security guards or the group. This annoys me as he doesn’t work for the museum or does he have any right to question us – there are no signs anywhere stating photographs are prohibited.
Perhaps if the groups act as typical tour groups then we wouldn’t have noticed anything unusual. Why make yourself an obvious target?
Where to sleep in Lublin
It’s not difficult to find great accommodation in Poland and Lublin proves just as good.
On ul. Królewska 6, 20-109, this apartment is around a 2-kilometre taxi ride (20PLN), 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 your arrival.
A former Jewish doctor’s residence from the turn of the 20th century, this building has been chopped up into one-bedroom apartments and is right across the road to amazing Renaissance churches.
The apartment is about a 5-minute walk to the Old Town’s entrance gate, so everything is very central.
Have I mentioned that I love Polish food?
Along Lipowa 13, this parlour is definitely a favourite haunt for great coffee, service, and devilish ice-cream deserts.
When specials are 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.
This supermarket is in a new mall behind the Lublin Castle and offers everything you could possibly need at reasonable prices. This is a grocery haunt as we cook all of our meals and eat 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
I’m hoping the train is on time but also looking forward to some quiet writing time.