Lublin's unique heritage has resulted in different superstitions being associated with different landmarks, for which reason the Lubelskie region is often referred to as the ‘land of legends’. If you're travelling with children and they're not at the same level of appreciation as their elders, pay attention to the 🐐 that appear below! They offer a colourful tale behind some of Lublin's key sites!
After arriving in Lublin, your first port of call should be, without any detours, a visit to the historic centre. Founded in medieval times, Lublin’s old town boasts a collage of architectural patterns, including three 14th century gateways, the highlight of which being the Kraków Gate - a postcard favourite. The town square houses are mostly built in renaissance style, and recent renovations have restored many of the buildings to their former glory. With a generous 70% of these structures surviving the destruction of WWII, the old town is a wonderful glimpse into old Poland, and largely free from the buskers and kebab signs that fill Poland’s more travelled hotspots. Most of the top attractions in Lublin are located within this district, if not a short walk away!
A lap around the picturesque rynek (ENG: Market Square) will reveal a number of great spots for drinking and dining. Notable mentions include Jewish cuisine at Mandragora and Słodka, a fantastic art-deco Polish restaurant called Niepospolita, and a quaint little coffee spot at Akwarela. Smack back in the middle is the Crown Tribunal Building, which is a starting point for the immensley-popular Lublin Underground Trail. Whist exploring through the narrow cobblestone laneways, you will eventually stumble across one of two imposing churches that reside within the old city limits. The first is the Dominican Basilica and Monastery at the end of ul. Złota, dated from 1342 and in possession of a fantastic painting depicting the fire of Lublin in the 18th century. A block to the south-west, the Archcathedral can be found, featuring the Trinitarian Tower that offers the best views of the old centre from above! Down towards Grodzka Gate and Lublin Castle complex, you can drop in at Browar Grodzki, a brewery-restaurant that offers stunning views to the east.
🐐 Numerous legends are associated with the old centre in general. The oldest of these is that of a three-headed dragon, known back in the day as a 'viper' who emerged from an oak grove in the Bystrzyca river valley and chose to live under the city. The viper was believed to have been responsible for bringing the rain, which was essential weather for ensuring a good harvest, as well as guarding the city from dead souls who roamed the land. Offerings to appease the three-headed beast included milk, honey and grain. Viper motifs can be found all over the city on doorfronts, and ul. Żmigród translates as Vipertown Street. 🐐 The other legend is attached to the fancy blue tenement house at Rynek 12, which was the home of Mayor Konopnica in the 16th century. His beautiful daughter, Basia, fell in love with a poor nobleman's son named Jan Rudnicki, a betrothal of which Mayor Konopnica did not approve. Rudnicki, not willing to accept Konopnica's decision, swept up Basia after mass on Christmas Eve and escaped into an oncoming blizzard. While most stories that play out like this have a tragic, ghostly ending, this one is quite the opposite - Basia and Jan Rudnicki lived happily ever after on the Rudnicki estate, despite not gaining forgiveness from old man Konopnica!
Perhaps the most iconic historical structure of the city, the brick part you see today is dated from the 17th century. The white clock tower and dial dated from the 19th century, 🐐 and the former tower master is alleged to have taken out his anger out on the clock by throwing bottles at it. Subsequently, the clock became 'drunk' and began to show the time incorrectly, often with huge deviations from the actual time of day. The old mechanics have since been replaced with an electronic system, which seems to have sobered thing up quite a bit! Nevertheless, the Museum of History of the city of Lublin, which can be found inside, allows you to see some of the intricate clockwork technology, the kind that was once used up on the tower's original dial. The view of Krakowskie Przedmieście from up top is not half bad as well!
Plac Po Farze (ENG: Square along the parish) was created after the demolition of the Parish Church of St. Michael the Archangel. 🐐 The area is associated with a key legend of the city, dating back to the mid 13th century, during the time of Krakowian ruler Prince Leszek II the Black. The inhabitants of Lublin, suffering from frequents attacks from pagan tribes, appealed to Leszek to bring his army and submit their enemies. When Leszek and his forces arrived in Lublin, the pagans had retreated from the city upon hearing news of his arrival. Leszek halted the march and decided to nap in the shade of an oak tree. In his dream, Saint Michael the Archangel descended from heaven and ordered the prince to continue pursuing the pagans. He did so and his army defeated them without issue. Leszek returned to Lublin and ordered that the place where he had been visited by Saint Michael. It is here that the church was built and the oak tree was used to make the altar.
Whether there's any truth to the legend or not, the church is believed to have been built either at the end of the 13th century or at the beginning of the 14th century. However, the church was notoriously prone to fires, burning down a total of three times between 1575 and 1846. After the third incident, the decision to rebuild yet again was abandoned. After the remaining structure was demolished, the baptismal font, the Michał bell from the tower and a historic plaque were relocated in Lublin Archcathedral. According to local news reports, an oak trunk was found under the naive of the great altar, which had been carefully bricked around. The foundations of the church were allegedly too difficult to demolish, some say because of the holiness of the site and Saint Michael's influence. The site became properly established public space in 2002. In the 21st century, Po Farze Square is frequently used for events, such as concerts and cultural meetings. The yellow building at Grodzka 11 is a Youth Centre that once operated as an orphanage for Jewish Children until the devastating events of the Nazi Holocaust.
Playing back door to Krakowska Gate's front door, Brama Grodzka (ENG: Fortress Gate) was used to guard the passage in the city's defensive walls. It was also a link between the Christian and the Jewish city, which is why it was often called the "Jewish Gate". Originally, it had the form of a quadrilateral with a cupola, with a foregate later added (as it was with Kraków Gate). At the end of the 18th century, at the behest of the Good Order Commission (Boni Ordinis), it was rebuilt in the classical style and stripped of any defensive features. This is evidenced by the date MDCCLXXXV and the SAR monogram (Stanislaus Augustus Rex - Stanisław August Król), placed on the gate from the Old Town side. After 1944, the Gate was used by the Secondary School of Fine Arts, then by the Lublin Theater Studio. Since 1992, it's been the premises of the Grodzka Gate - NN Theater Centre, inside of which a model of the Jewish district in Podzamcze (now where the nearby ground-level park and car parking area is located), showing its appearance before World War II. Aside from street performances and buskers, nearby are several boutique shops and galleries.
On your ascent up the tower, you can enjoy the fascinating collection of religious art in the Muzeum Archidiecezjalne Sztuki Religijnej (ENG: The Archdiocesan Museum of Religious Art). Sculptures, paintings, textiles, sarcophagi, musical instruments, candlesticks and Orthodox icons from the surrounding region hang amongst the impressive wooden support-structures of the tower's interior, complete with perfectly calibrated lighting to enhance their divine quality! At the very top, before stepping out onto the viewing deck, you can find a cozy cafe space, complete with colourful pillows and souvenirs. While you're up there, you may as well order something so that you can tell your friends that you've dined at the highest cafe in Lublin! 🐐 Back on ground level and around the corner on ul. Jezuicka you can find a square stone (marked by a custom street sign) with a particularly dark legend attached to it. This was once a block for an axe-wielding executioner, and many guilty parties lost their heads on this corner. However, one day, an innocent man was laid on the block and the axe came down with such force that it left a mark in the stone. From that day onwards, the stone brought death to anyone who touched it. Most notably, a woman carrying soup down the street accidentally tripped and spilt it on the corner, after which a pack of local dogs strolled by and licked up the mess. All of them keeled over and died, an event which earned the area the name 'Dog hill'!
🐐 The Dominican Basillica was previously the site of an original piece of the Holy Cross, a relic that was brought to Lublin in the 15th century. Escorting Bishop Andrzej of Kiev is said to have only stopped at the Monastery for the night while transporting the relic further east. However, for the next two days, his horses refused to move any further, and thus he took it as a sign that this fragment of the holy cross should remain here. Aside numerous miracles of healing, fire fighting and fending off Cossacks with angels descending from the heavens, a thief is said to have made off with the relic, only to discover that his horses also refused to move. So where is the relic now? Well, in 1991, someone did successfully steal it, though many local residents believe that it still remains somewhere in the city (because God refuses to let it leave the city!) Aside its holy prestige, the most interesting point inside of the basilica is a fantastic painting of Lublin in late the 16th century, with a small detail depicting the start of the aforementioned fire. Whilst it is uncertain where the source of the fire came from, the painting shows the culprit as a burning schoolhouse in the center-foreground with a young boy joyously celebrating the fact!
A short work south of the old centre is another underground experience, this time with beer in the equation! Lublin's Browary Lubelskie was founded in the abandoned ruins of a monastery in 1844, better known by its famous brand of beer - Perła. Every tour in the 'Perła Brewery Undergrounds' has the option of ending with a beer tasting session at their subterranean bar space! Their ground level operation is equally as popular with locals as it is with tourists, and is a great option for spending a night (or day out) with friends!
Los nasz dla Was przestrogą
Let our fate be a warning to you
A visit to the museum is an opportunity to see souvenirs related to the former life of villages, manors and towns, but also allows you to get acquainted with the daily work, customs and traditions of people of the past era. The museum exhibition is not only a material trace of the past, but also the stories of ordinary people inscribed in the recreated interiors. It's these aspects that enhance the experience and heightens the appreciation for the human quality of each unique exhibit. When visiting successive sectors and objects, one gets the impression that time has stood still, and a visit to the museum becomes an opportunity for an exceptional journey and a close - even tangible - meeting with the past. Apart from the permanent exhibition, Lublin Open-Air Village holds temporary exhibitions, events related to the economic and ritual year of the countryside, historic reenacments, educational activities and other cultural events.
When Targ Pod Zamkiem (ENG: Market under the Castle) takes place on Sundays, many curious locals descend upon Plac Zamkowy, the Lublin Old Town's elliptical car park that once constituted a key part of the city's Jewish district, to browse through old antique wares and try grab a bargain. As this description probably hints at, this affair is very much a flea market, although its often referred to as a farmer's market because of its past history as a fresh produce fair in the early 90s. While it promotes itself as an 'every Sunday' event, the event is notoriously infrequent, and often doesn't appear for weeks at a time. What we can say for certain is that it's far more common in the warmer months than the colder ones. Your best option is to keep an eye on the facebook page and try and catch it if and when it happens! These days, Lublin farmers' market, known locally as Targ na Ruskiej, is about 800m north of the old centre and is open Monday to Saturday from 7am to 1pm give or take.
Lublin Flea Market and Farmers' Market
So much choice! Is it a little too overwhelming? Once you arrive in Lublin Old Town, we strongly recommend stopping by the Tourist Inspiration Centre and getting some advice from some fun and friendly locals. If you need food (for thought), check out our Restaurants & Cafes section for our recommendations of places to eat in Lublin. As day turns to dusk and the mood takes you, it'll be time to seek out the Pubs, Clubs and Bars section. At some stage, you might need to pick up a souvenir or have the urge to check out some local art showrooms. In that case, you should cruise over to our Shopping section!