Certainly – one may describe Lublin in such a manner as it is done in each promotion materials – that it is a capital of eastern Poland, big university centre, is proud of countless historical monuments and a local economy rushes with cosmic speed to a bright future. One may add such words like: infrastructure, innovativeness, entrepreneurship, between them – smuggle culture, nature and ecology. Well, one may make Lublin city as any other, but what for?
Maybe it is worth to mention that Varsovians – always in a hurry must slow down rapidly here and be careful not to knock out one’s teeth due to sudden brake. Since Lublin has its own, I would say, unhurried rhythm. On pedestrian crossings citizens do not practice a cross – country run, saleswoman in grocery at Grodzka Street shall always find time to gossip about celebrities grinning from magazines’ covers (especially the one with insect in the forename). In the museums there are no kilometre long queues and real treasures of culture and architecture seems to play hide – and – seek with tourists. It’s worth to play this game with the city and let be seduced. By atmosphere, architecture, history and cuisine.
List of Lublin’s monuments one may find in each tour guide to Poland. Certainly, going there for the first time for sightseeing I happened to become acquainted with it, but here I shall focus on what was not so clear for me at the beginning, not so exposed and maybe not sufficiently appreciated.
Polish classes revision
Mikołaj Rey, Jan Kochanowski, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski or Józef Czechowicz – walking down the streets of Lublin may be a good excuse for looking into a few personalities from history of Polish literature. For example – visit to Under Fortune Cellar – multimedia museum devoted to the past of Lublin – put Jan Kochanowski in a different light. Tour guide, with passion describing Renaissance polychrome of Under Fortune wine – bar, reminds a death of Jan from Czarnolas. Some day Kochanowski came to Lublin to give a speech appealing to punish his brother – in – law murderers. Probably due to those emotions he got a heart attack. He was moved to one neighbouring mansion, maybe to this one, located at Rynek 8, belonging to Lubomelscy, which dungeons conceal a historical wine – bar. Taking into consideration desperate tone of laments, written after Urszulka’s death, one mat assume that Kochanowski was a very emotional person. Although his personality is not a key reason to visiting Piwnica pod Fortuną. It’s worth visiting due to beautiful paintings and very interesting and exhibition arranged in a modern way.
On forename of Rey one may run into at Krakowskie Przedmieście just by the windows of Chmielewscy sweet shop – the oldest (reaching 19th and 20th century) and the most famous Lublin coffee bar serving sweets. Just nearby a catchword: “History of city is also created by cakes: we may discover, that mansion located at Krakowskie Przedmieście 8 belonged to Rey himself.
And how is with Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, another ghost of Polish 2 school book? He spent a year in Lublin during his youth, he used to lice at mansion at Grodzka Street, about which inscription on the mansion informs. It is said that he didn’t remember his stay nicely. The mansion didn’t either, because its condition is very poor (although in a perfect location) and seems to look longingly towards potential investors.
It is definitely different with Józef Czechowicz, poet associated mostly with avant – garde of interwar twenty years. Connected with Lublin all his life he gave to the city and literature the Poem about city of Lublin, whose reading inspires till now for example to Walking with Czechowicz organised by NN Theatre. Although I didn’t happen to take part in it personally I ran into many traces of poetry in urban space. Poetry on pavement, on windows, on walls? Should people start reading poetry due to these – so why not?
What in “donżon” exactly and how happened Byzantium to be in prison – that is castle in Lublin
Castle in Lublin may not be omitted. Massive, powerful and full of contradictions.
Built in 14th century.
After that, as it happens on the lands of Poland, it was destroyed 300 years later. As a result, as it happens on the lands of Poland, of an armed conflict.
But the castle was not destroyed entirely. A chapel and a tower survived and were cleverly incorporated in a new neo – gothic block of a castle, constructed in 19th century.
One can’t see them from the front, even one can’t see them at all. But they, in particular chapel, constitute amazing place especially worth seeing.
Tower of Lublin’s castle is called donżon – i.e.: tower combining residential and defending functions. It is a one of the oldest building constructed in a roman style in Lublin’s area. In its inner there are three levels, currently presenting exhibition showing stories of prisoners of castle during the Nazi occupation. On its top there is a terrace with the view of Lublin’s old town. Sounds tempting?
My number one on the list of Lublin’s historical monuments is however Saint Trinity Chapel, endowed in 14th century by Władysław Jagiełło himself. Following the arrow with the inscription CHAPEL in the long white corridor of Museum of Lublin one can’t imagine what kind of feast for eyes awaits in the end thereof. Colours covering the walls of the chapel shall enchant even the unyielding opponents of visiting sacral architecture. Frescos constitute a very interesting mixture of Byzantine and Greek style and their subject is personalities from the Bible. Pity that storms of history have not saved gilds however it’s good that paintings were able to be renovated in an original form.
And if the painting are in question – let’s look for some murals!
Let’s look. Especially one, created by Ukrainian artist hiding under the pseudonym Waone, member of duet Interesni Kazki (i.e.: Interesting Tales). I find him at Jasna Street 3. Gazeta Wyborcza website informs that he is an impression on Polish – Ukrainian cultural community in Lublin. I’ve heard another interpretation from one passer – by who saw me while observing a mural with my head raised and camera in my hand. The man on the painting is opening a Pandora box. One interpretation does not contradict another, everyone may create one’s own one. In this mural I can see a surrealistic world, associating with my favourite artist, Klaus Haapaniemi. Maybe I’ve just grown up out of fairytales?
Ghost of Old Town inhabitants
Fact, that everyone who visits Lublin, concentrate on Old Town, that’s certain. Mansions, streets, romantic lights, pubs – that’s what tourist like the most and that does not need any recommendation. The question is: how many tourists walking down the Old Town stopped to see black and white reproductions incorporated in the windows of mansions? Looked into the eyes of the people on these reproductions? Reflected on what they exactly do?
Pictures were developed from negatives which were found when the mansion, where Cafe Trybunalska exists now, was renovated. They were said to be hidden under the one of the window ledge. Supposedly part of them presents Jeshiva students and is written in Yiddish. There are many unknowns in this case, identity of the photographer and reasons of hiding of this pictures were not settled till now. It is however known that these pictures present people who once created a tissue of Lublin. There are static portraits and photos a little bit less serious – should they be created now they would gather a lot of likes on Instagram.
It’s good that Lublin is explored by more and more tourists, not only from Poland. Walking down Grodzka street I can hear English, French, Hebrew. Precisely – Hebrew. But Jewish tracks in Lublin shall be a subject of a quite other story.