A Guide to Historical Sites in Lublin

One of Poland’s oldest cities, Lublin was first mentioned in historical documents in 1144, though there is evidence that people lived in the area before this time. 

Today, Lublin is the ninth-largest city in Poland and is renowned for its high living standards and is noted as a great European city for businesses. 

An important Polish cultural centre, Lublin possesses an array of museums and theatres and is home to various festivals and events during the summer months. The city’s Old Town is one of Poland’s national monuments, offering a Renaissance grandeur comparable to that found in Kraków.

This blog will outline some of the city’s best historical sites and point you toward things you should look out for when visiting. 
If our blog inspires you to begin planning your next trip to Poland, consider joining us on one of our Multi-Day Guided WW2 Tours of Poland or WW2 Day Tours in Poland.

Lubin Old Town

The Old Town of Lublin is a historical district of the city. It was founded in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 16th century, after being destroyed by fire in 1549. It contains many historic buildings and monuments, as well as numerous restaurants and shops.

A defensive wall from the 16th century surrounds the Old Town. At its corners, there are four towers (of which only one remains), which used to be connected by a wooden bridge over the moat. The most famous landmark of the old town is St. John’s Cathedral, built between 1468 and 1519 in late Gothic style. 

Other notable sites include:

  • Brama Wyzwolenia street (Freedom Gate) – main entrance to the Old Town
  • Rynek Główny (Main Market Square) – market square with St. John’s Cathedral
  • Szpitalna street – one of Lublin’s main shopping streets with many cafes and restaurants
  • Plac Zamkowy (Castle Square) – square at the foot of Castle Hill with a statue of Józef Piłsudski

Majdanek Concentration Camp

The Majdanek concentration camp was located in Poland, near Lublin. It was built by the Nazis during World War II and operated from 1941 to 1944. Over 79,000 Jews were killed at Majdanek; 97 per cent of its victims were Jewish. Today, the site is a memorial that honours those who died there.

The camp was originally named after a nearby village called Maidanek (now Majdanek). It was built on an area of previously occupied land that the Nazis had levelled to make room for the camp. The first prisoners arrived in November 1941 and were forced to build their own wood and clay brick barracks. A crematorium was also constructed at this time so that bodies could be burned rather than buried in mass graves.

In January 1942, 6,500 prisoners were living in the camp; by June 1943, that number had grown to 21,000. As conditions worsened for those imprisoned there, more and more people died from disease and starvation until finally, it was decided they should be exterminated through gas chambers instead of letting them die naturally of neglect or malnutrition.

Majdanek continued operating until July 1944 when Soviet troops captured it.

The State Museum of Majdanek can be reached in a quarter of an hour from Lublin’s Old Town centre or in around 30 minutes by train. As outlined on their website: “The mission of the Museum is to cultivate the memory and promote historical education about the German occupation in the Lublin region during World War II, particularly by means of commemorating the victims, preserving the relics and documenting the history of the concentration camp at Majdanek and the death camps in Bełżec and Sobibór.”

Lublin Village Open Air Museum

The open-air museum was founded in 1970. It is located in the northern part of the city, on the hill named Kremenec. 

The area of the park is about 70 hectares and features more than 200 old buildings, mainly wooden houses, but also stone ones and some remains of defensive walls. 

They were brought here from different parts of Lublin Province – from Janów Lubelski, Biłgoraj and Łęczna. The oldest building dates back to 1775 and is a barn with a granary from Konstantynów Dolny village, Lublin County. 

The Museum consists of several sections:

Village Culture Section (with more than one hundred buildings from different regions of Poland)

National Culture Section (with items related to everyday life)

Folk Crafts Section (with workshops demonstrating various crafts)

Ethnographic Museum Section (with examples of traditional costumes).

Lublin also has two other open-air museums; one is located in Kazimierz Dolny, the other at Kozłówka (Lublin County).

The Lublin Village Open Air Museum is not to be missed. You will feel you’ve been transported through time. 

National Museum, Lublin

The National Museum in Lublin (Polish: Narodowe Muzeum Lubelskie) is a museum in Lublin, Poland. It was established in 1916 as the Museum of Lublin Society for the Encouragement of the Arts and Sciences (Polish: Muzeum Książąt Lubelskich imienia ks. Jana Zamoyskiego) and is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in Poland.

The museum’s collection consists of approximately 100 thousand objects, including paintings, sculptures and decorative art from Europe, Asia and Africa. The main building was opened in 1932 by architect Jan Zachwatowicz. Architect Zbigniew Pelikan added a new wing between 2002 and 2005 with additional exhibition space, which now houses one of Poland’s largest numismatic collections.

Highlights include paintings by Tintoretto, Van Dyck, Rembrandt and Rubens; sculptures by Michelangelo and Rodin; drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Goya; engravings by Dürer and Rembrandt; prints by Cranach; as well as objects from everyday life such as weapons, tools and pottery shards.

This brings an end to our selection of fascinating historical sites in Lublin. If you have any questions, please get in touch

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