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Lublin: historical charm and scars of war

Poland Day 10. Lublin was confirmed into the itinerary because it fitted into my general direction of travel and had a fascinating blend of history, good and ugly. My first afternoon there delivered on both of these fronts.

I got to the bus station ‘nice’ and early for the five hour journey to Lublin. Do widzenia, Kraków. We arrived late morning and I set off to find my lodgings. Called the Grand Hotel, it was indeed that.

My hotel, which used to be the Commercial Chamber, from Litewski Square

My hotel, which used to be the Commercial Chamber, from Litewski Square

My afternoon explorations led down the main street toward the city’s historic core, past plaques at WW2 sites of death and damage.

Krakowskie Przedmieście appears to be Lublin's main street and is fully pedestrian leading up to the Kraków Gate

Krakowskie Przedmieście appears to be Lublin’s main street and is fully pedestrian leading up to the Kraków Gate

The Kraków Gate leading through to the heart of the Old Town

The Kraków Gate leading through to the heart of the Old Town

Lublin was bombed in WW2 but thanks to some rebuild and restoration the Old Town is in pretty good nick. Walking through the gate was like stepping back in time; ahead a small and charming market square lined with colourful buildings and the old town hall in the middle. It was quite stunning, especially with the decorative details on the facades.

Buildings around the main square

Buildings around the main square

...naturally with a fair few cafes and restaurants

…naturally with a fair few cafes and restaurants

Old Town Hall and a post-nuptials gathering

Old Town Hall and a post-nuptials gathering

Spanning out from the square the interesting bits and pieces kept coming.

The Dominican Priory

The Dominican Priory

Mural in the church

Mural in the church

Old town alleyway

Old town alleyway

The foundations of a medieval church were discovered underneath this square in the 1930s and earlier this century were incorporated into the square

The foundations of a medieval church were discovered underneath this square in the 1930s and earlier this century were incorporated into the square

The Grodzka Gate

The Grodzka Gate

Beyond the second gate the path led to Lublin Castle which earlier had made for a very striking landmark on the hill when the PolskiBus arrived in town. These days it’s a museum and includes being able to go up the old tower which looked like a bit of me so I went to buy a ticket. My doubtfulness about forking out extra for the chapel (I was a bit churched out by this time… you know what I’m talking about Dad 🙂 ) must have shown when the lady asked me and she gave me a free ticket. Unexpected niceness!

Lublin Castle

Lublin Castle

Old town from the castle tower

Old town from the castle tower

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Chapel of the Holy Trinity - glad I did see it in the end; this small 14th century chapel is covered in painted biblical scenes which were plastered over (!) before being rediscovered at the end of the 19th century and then restored over the next century (!)

Chapel of the Holy Trinity – glad I did see it in the end; this small 14th century chapel is covered in painted biblical scenes which were plastered over (!) before being rediscovered at the end of the 19th century and then restored over the next century (!)

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Castle Square in front of the... Castle

Castle Square in front of the… Castle

Within walking distance from here were the old and new Jewish cemeteries which I was keen to check out.

A lane which borders the Old Jewish Cemetery (wall at the right). Back around that corner I almost stood on a homeless drunk man sleeping against a power pole. Being a quiet lane it gave me quite the start

A lane which borders the Old Jewish Cemetery (wall at the right). Back around that corner I almost stood on a homeless drunk man sleeping against a power pole. Being a quiet lane it gave me quite the start

I’d read the cememtery wouldn’t be open but was interested to see what it was like all the same. Completely walled in and overgrown, nothing was visible. Over the centuries it has sustained various damage including partial destruction in WW2 due to its desirable hill location.

Old Jewish Cemetery

Old Jewish Cemetery

The new Jewish Cemetery was also closed. The large site features a striking boundary wall design; inside it also looked overgrown and wild. In a similar tale to other places, it was essentially destroyed by the Nazis in their quest to find materials to pave roads in the local concentration camp. Restoration is ongoing.

New Jewish Cemetery

New Jewish Cemetery

A large memorial park

A large memorial park nearby

I was getting worn out so decided to end the day there, the half hour trek back to the hotel yielding unexpected points of interest. Lublin had been a worthwhile stop already, though the main reason for visiting was still to come tomorrow.

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Square of the Ghetto Victims. This was a pre-war marketplace and was located on the edge of what became the Jewish ghetto in Lublin

Square of the Ghetto Victims. This was a pre-war marketplace and was located on the edge of what became the Jewish ghetto in Lublin

This is what the area in the above photo looked like pre-war.

Distance walked: 10.83km

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Glenda #

    Hi Hayley, been avidly reading your daily blog – up to its usual standard of superbness! You’ve certainly been visiting some amazing historical sights and been making the most of your time – meticulous planning pays off. Take care & keep safe 🙂

    14 September 2015
    • Hi Glen, lovely to hear from you and really appreciate the comment, thanks! x

      14 September 2015
  2. Sally #

    Playing catch up on your blog today Hayley as Internet so poor in Beirut. Love the pics, it just looks lovely and you have shown me why it is on my travel list too! Hope you doing ok? X

    14 September 2015
    • Thanks very much Sal. Yes am doing great, couple of minor health niggles but managing to keep up with myself :). Looks like you had a great time and saw some fantastic things on your wee getaway! x

      14 September 2015
  3. Poland is a beautiful country and the cities are unique and charming with so many ancient sites and holy places. The pics are simply great. You must be very fit to be able to walk so many miles in one day. Seems odd that the Jewqish cemeteries have been let go and not kept up very well After all it was the Jews who suffered and who were killed. I realize the prisoners of war are not buried there but none the less….

    15 September 2015
    • My guess is that with the vast majority of graves/tombs desecrated during the war, and probably with few people left to actually visit, the cemeteries became kind of abandoned for a time and nature took over.

      15 September 2015
  4. Sorry I posted before checking for typos. The spelling is “Jewish.” Probably missed more errors, just don’t see them.

    15 September 2015

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