Loving Lublin - 10 Things to See and Do
Lublin may only be the ninth largest city in Poland, but it is big on history and attractions, and there is much for the traveler to see and do here. Throughout the Middle Ages, the city thrived as a centre of trade and commerce due to its strategic location on the route between Vilnius and Kraków. This led to the development of a beautiful walled city, which thankfully was left more or less untouched by World War Two.
A smaller version of Krakow, Lublin is only a two and half drive from Warsaw, and can also be reached easily by train, so it is quite accessible for visitors to reach.
So, without further ado, please find our 10 Things to See and Do in Lublin.
1. Be the king of the castle – Lublin Castle
Lublin Castle is one of the oldest preserved Royal residencies in Poland. The hill on which it is located was first fortified with a wood-reinforced earthen wall in the 12th century. In the first half of the 13th century the stone keep was built which survives to this day and is the oldest standing building in the whole city. In the first decades of the 15th-century, king Władysław II commissioned a set of wall paintings for the chapel, which were completed in 1418 and are preserved to this day. The author was a Ruthenian Master Andrej. Due to their unique style, mixing Western and Eastern Orthodox influences, they are acclaimed internationally as an important historical monument. There was a complete reconstruction of the castle between 1826 and 1828, with the new buildings being crafted in an English neogothic style. The building then served as a prison until 1954, and, following reconstruction and refurbishment, it has been the main site of the Lublin Museum since 1957.
2. Experience traditional Jewish food at Mandragora
Before the Holocaust of World War Two engulfed Lublin, the city had a thriving Jewish community. Mandragora maintains the great Jewish culinary tradition in Lublin, in this cosy and casual restaurant. We would highly recommend the Hummus and also the Fried Liver with Mushrooms in Wine and Honey Sauce for starters. Equally tasty for the main course was the Jewish Roast Duck with Tzimmes and also the Classic Schnitzel. Oh, and the desserts are exquisite!
3. Learn about the horrors of the Holocaust at the memorial museum of Majdanek
Majdanek was a German concentration camp in Lublin. Prisoners came from nearly 30 countries. Among an estimated 150,000 prisoners who entered Majdanek, 80,000 people, including 60,000 Jews, were killed. The tragic history of the Lublin concentration camp came to an end on 23rd July 1944 after the Red Army entered the city. On the partly preserved grounds of the former concentration camp there are 70 historical buildings from the years 1941-1944, including intact gas chambers and crematoria. There is also a stunning monument dedicated to Majdanek’s victims designed by Polish sculptor and architect Wiktor Tolkin. The monument consists of three parts, the symbolic gateway, the road, and the Mausoleum, containing a mound of ashes of the victims.
4. Marvel at the colourful interiors of the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist
The church was built between 1586 and 1604 to serve the Society of Jesus. In the 18th century, Józef Meyer decorated the interior of the church with beautiful paintings depicting Biblical scenes which are a must for any traveler to see.
5. Smell the flowers at the botanical gardens
The Botanical Gardens are nestled along the Czechówka River Valley, taking up an area of 25 ha. The gardens include an arboretum, rock garden, as well as rare and endangered native plants, and offers a very pleasant walk down into the valley.
6. Sit outside an Old Town bar and have a beer (or two!)
Lublin Old Town is one of the most precious Polish collection of historic buildings. So what better way to appreciate the beautiful buildings by having a cold beer outside in one of the bar terraces.
7. Head for the countryside and visit Zamoyski Palace
The Zamoyski Palace is a large rococo and neoclassical palace complex and is one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments. The original palace was built in the first half of 18th century for Michał Bieliński, voivode (governor) of Chełmno. Its architecture is original - a merger of European art with old Polish building traditions. In 1799, the Palace was acquired by the aristocratic Zamoyski family and it currently hosts a Zamoyski family museum. The Palace is a 40 minute drive from Lublin.
8. Go underground
A labyrinth of tunnels and cellars lay hidden beneath the Old Town. They can be visited via the Lublin Underground Trail that runs from the dungeons of the Court of the Crown under the Market Square, up to Plac Po Farze. The trail passes through 14 chambers. The route was created by the merger of a number of the Old Town cellars, which in the past were used by traders for storage. The entire route includes exhibitions on the history of Lublin, and is a kind of journey through the most important events of the city. A trip can also be made to the Fortuna Cellar which is located in a town house that once belonged to the Lubomelski family. There are ten rooms in the Cellar including a former winery. The walls of the winery are covered with a renaissance polichrome - unique in Poland paintings of secular topics.
9. Take in the Lublin skyline from the Trinity Tower
Climb the 207 steps up the 60-metre high Trinity Tower to reach the viewing terrace where you can admire the cityscape of Lublin. Look out for the tin cock that looks down from the top of the tower which, as the legend goes, warns the residents about approaching dangers.
10. Seek out the street art of the Old Town
Lublin Old Town has many quirky, artistic touches, some of which are temporary, so pay close attention as you walk around. Street art, including the balloons at the Krakow Gate, the classic art posters covering up boarded up windows, and the knitted bike stand covers, can be found within the city’s walls. Happy hunting!
Join us next time when we visit the Plaszow Concentration Camp in Krakow, Poland, which was made infamous by the Oscar winning film, Schindler's List.
Until then, happy reading and safe travels!
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