środa, 22 października 2014

Lublin revisited

My recollections of this city are mainly the ones of a provincial town, one of those off the beaten track leading to the eastern border and, specifically in the socialist era, shabby and grey looking; slightly forgotten by the world.
I used to study there so the sentiment of "good old days" had always been with me until the day I went there after many years and discovered it anew.
Lublin is one of very few cities that benefited most from the new trend of removing the socialist looks and managed to put on an entirley new outfit.

The most valuable element of Lublin is its Old Town. I myself was born to a reconstructed model of Gdańsk so being able to get acquainted with original reneissance substance as a student was a very interesting experience. Yet, in those times, the Old Town was really totally neglected although the dirty and winding backyards of the houses were extremely exciting and full of  mysteries. Now, it is being renovated for the first time since Renaissance probably :)

Lublin used to be a very important city for the Commonwealth of Poland

The characteristic Lublin Renaissance style

Richly decorated windows

specific roof elements

One of the pretty houses lining the main Old Town street Grodzka

Nearly all houses gained fresh colour

Some are still waiting for their glamour

A recent discovery is of rare beauty: frescoes in a merchant's basement

The wine cellar in the "Fortuna" house

The Fortuna houses several cultural institutions. This one is the gallery exhibiting elements of the stage setting of the KUL students' theatre

Historic corridors and yards

and backyard galleries
Lublin Castle houses a rare gem: a chapel decorated with Bysantine frescoes which were being uncovered from under the plaster for many decades only to offer the greedy tourist eyes an artistic celebration:

The Castle is now a museum showing among others paintings, including the scene of the Polish-Lithuanian Union as seen by Polish prominent painter of the 19 c., Jan Matejko.

The Union was an unprecedented political act and for this reason, in the centre of Lublin there is a monument marking the event.

The Union monument in Litewski Square (Lithuanian Square)

Polish king and Lithuanian Duke

I stayed in a reputable Grand Hotel "Lublinianka" which had stayed in my mind as a symbol of a dark, smoky cafe visited by the local elite on Sundays. It underwent an impossible metamorhosis.

I also visited some churches which I did not appreciate as a student as much as I do now.For example the church built by king Jagiella as a homage to Our Lady for the Grunwald victory over the Teutonic Kinghts (1410)

The inscription says, the church was built by the Teutonic prisoners of war
Another plaque informing about the same

One more piece of information

There are four information boards on the walls telling the history of the Victorius Our Lady Church

Inside - pure gothic:

Gothic with Renaissance additions

And of course homage paid to King Jagiella

The Dominican church in the Old Town:

It has got two pulpits, a relic of the Reformation

and a mirror in the main altar (to the right|). A relic of what ? :)
In the Cathedral - a portrait of a bishop, my relative of whom, as a student, I had no idea 

There are several universities in Lublin. At "my time", there were two: Maria Curie-Skłodowska "state" University, and the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL), the only such in the Ostblock. Apart from the two leading universities, there were a couple of Schools of Higher Education which now are also universities: Medical and Technology.

The old KUL building looks the same but I was shocked to see a regular glas-aluminium skyscraper constructed next to the traditional building on site of what used to be a little park:

The well-known corridors have not changed

In the patio, the famous statue of two mighty men meeting: the Polish Pope and the Primate Wyszyński

On the facade it says: Our Professor now a Saint

The Maria Skłodowska University also expanded. The statute of the first Rector appeared next to the monument of the Polish Nobel prize winner:

A look at the city:
The renovation of the edifices in the city centre uncovered the elegance of a 19 c. city

A new monument, placed in the "new time", i.e. following the 1990 transformations

The construction of a Hall for Transcultural Encounters close to the Campus

Lublin Castle - a synonim of torture to many contemprary citizens: a Gestapo prison and after the war - the morbid place of communist terror

at the foot of the Castle - a monument telling the stories of anti-communist Home Army soldiers tortured and killed until the 1950s.

A new Lublin tradition: the First Cider Festival.

On 20th September 2014, the Lubelski Cider was launched in the Nuveau Beaujolais manner :)