Few cities in Europe have the fairytale atmosphere of Lublin - southeastern Poland's cultural pearl. Known as the 'Land of Legends' there's a colourful tale down seemingly every cobblestoned lane of the charming Old Town: strange creatures living below the city gate and calling the rains; unexplained appearances of oxen drawing carts filled with gold; Saint Michael visiting a Cracovian prince napping under a once-standing oak tree, demanding him to take his army and pursue the local Baltic tribes who had been ransacking the city... (these same tribes were the ancestors of the Kingdom of Lithuania, who would join Poland in 1563, signing the Union of Lublin and giving birth to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest empires in European history). These medieval myths are still so pervasive today thanks to the enduringly ancient atmosphere of Lublin's Old Town - 70% of which survived the ravages of World War Two, including three of the city's original medieval gates.
Of course, WWII was not without its costs, as the city's rich Jewish heritage was destroyed and the city generally fell on hard times until a rebound in recent years. Today's Lublin balances old-world nostalgia and the modern vibrancy brought on by its modern gastronomy scene and student population. The city maintains its ties with Lithuania, through a multimedia portal in Plac Litewski where locals can connect with similar passers-by in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. That's not the only fanciful piece of modern tech in the city, however, as locals and visitors are blown away every evening by the nearby audio-visual fountain, lighting displays at the Centre for the Meeting of Cultures down the road, and numerous other festivals taking place with a wealth of talented young Poles using multimedia to challenge the backward, culturally-conservative stereotype of Eastern Poland. If you're looking for an exciting, offbeat destination for travel and study, food and culture, away from the tourist hordes - come to Lublin!