A CITY MARKED BY HISTORY
WHAT TO DO? MY JOURNEY
THE OLD TOWN OF LUBLIN
A gate at the old town
Street in the old town of Lublin
Street in the old town
Lublin, a city marked by the different centuries that have just unfolded. You will notice this, especially in the old town of Lublin, with the architecture of the houses but also the urban composition. In the center of the small old town there are even the remains of a church. The facades of the houses are really beautiful, very well decorated and full of colors. The old town is not big, it can easily be visited in an hour. The main street is very busy with many restaurants. However, during my visit, in the streets perpendicular to the main street, there were several abandoned or renovated houses. It was still strange to see this paradox. It felt like the city was under reconstruction so I’m hopeful that in a few months or years the whole city will be more animated. It is still very pleasant to walk in this pedestrianized old town. There was little information available on the history of the old town. So if you want to know more, maybe I suggest you take a guide? After this short stroll in the center of the old town, do not miss the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Lublin (Archikatedra św. Jana Chrzciciela). Seen from the outside, it looks very basic, but once inside, wow, I was amazed! Paintings and statues everywhere. It’s just beautiful, and nothing that looks like the interior of any churches I have seen in Warsaw. I was really blown away by this interior, it’s worth going for a walk.
Just a few quick words about the city of Lublin outside the old town. Honestly, I found that there was very little to do, other than what I am going to tell you in the paragraphs below. However, there is Krakowskie Przedmieście street which is bustling with lots of restaurants. At the end of this street you have the famous sign “I <3 Lublin”. Other than that, I didn’t see anything special while walking around the town.
THE CASTLE OF LUBLIN
Inside the Chapel of the Holy Trinity
View above Lublin
View on the castle of Lublin
When you are in Lublin, you cannot miss the Lublin Castle (Zamek Lubelski) and its Chapel of the Holy Trinity (kaplica trójcy świętej). Once used as a royal residence, the castle went on to experience many dark years as it had long been a prison. Unfortunately, I was unable to do the castle museum due to renovations so I can’t really give you my opinion on this visit. But I was able to visit the Chapel of the Holy Trinity which is just beautiful inside. It is one of the oldest chapels in Europe, and one of the best preserved. The paintings on the walls are in very good condition so we can admire the interior as if we were years back. After visiting the chapel, I went on the top of the tower to have a view of the old town of Lublin. In the tower you have some explanations about the history of the castle, but only in Polish. That’s why I don’t necessarily recommend that you take the tour. The view is very beautiful but not inevitable. To visit the chapel and the tower, I would say that it would take you about 30 minutes (unless you understand Polish, in these cases you will be lucky enough to be able to read the explanations).
Entrance fee to the Chapel of the Holy Trinity: 15 PLN / 3.50 €
Entrance fee for the castle tower: 9 PLN / 2 €
MAJDANEK CONCENTRATION CAMP
Majdanek concentration camp
Monument in the concentration camp
To get to Majdanek concentration camp (Państwowe Muzeum na Majdanku), the best way is by bus (or car if you have one). Look on the museum’s website to find the corresponding bus line depending on your location in Lublin (bus ticket one way: PLN 3.20 / € 0.7). The closest bus stop to the camp is Majdanek – Pomnik. Before starting my visit, I went to get a book guide from the concentration camp (3 PLN / 0.7 €) so that I could find my way around the camp, which currently covers more than 90 hectares. As you can imagine, this little guide has been quite helpful to me. The Majdanek concentration camp is quite large in Lublin. There were a lot of Jews detained but not only, also people from the resistance. Many massacres happened in this place, for example on November 3, 1943 when 18,000 people were shot one after another for 12 hours … The worst thing is that it was not just these massacres which killed people, living conditions were so harsh that many were dying of hunger, cold or disease. Are you shocked by what I’m telling you? And yet, this is only a tiny part of the story. But I won’t tell you more because the goal is for you to discover the place. The concentration camp has been partly rebuilt so that visitors can see what happened and feel the history of the place. Information panels in the barracks allow you to understand the history of the camp but also to see the living conditions thanks to the various testimonies. Visiting a concentration camp for the first time is tough enough. I had hesitated to go because I knew I was going to do the Auschwitz one afterwards. But honestly, I’m glad I did it because it prepared me psychologically. Because even reading all the information, I think we can’t imagine what really happened in places like this. Moreover, two very beautiful monuments were built to give homage to the victims. The course is really well done and you can visit most of the structures that are in place (the barracks, the gas chambers and the crematorium). To get through it all, it took me about 3 hours taking the time to read most of the information and touring the site.
Entrance fee for Majdanek concentration camp: 0 PLN (admission is free at all times).
WHEN TO GO?
Favorable weather to visit Lublin.
To visit Lublin city center and the castle, half a day is sufficient. To this, add half a day to visit the Majdanek concentration camp. I don’t necessarily recommend that you stay longer, there aren’t a lot of activities in or around the city.
WHERE TO SLEEP? MY ACCOMMODATION
ul. Królewska 6
Price: 9 € – 40PLN / person / night in a mixed dormitory
Hostel website: click here
The hostel is located in the city center, close to everything. It has an original decoration with some famous works by the artist Banksy. A very good value for money.
MY 3 TIPS
- Go to Majdanek concentration camp, it’s different than Auschwitz (and it can prepare you mentally for your visit to Auschwitz)
- Don’t take too long to wander outside the city, there isn’t much to do
- Take the bus to the concentration camp, it’s very easy to access directly