Lublin - Historic Urban and Architectural Complex, Lublin
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Lublin - Historic Urban and Architectural Complex

Lublin

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The first early medieval settlements in the Lublin area were established in the 6th century ad on the Czwartek, Grodzisko, Staromiejskie and Zamkowe hills. In the 8th century it was on Wzgórze Zamkowe that the first stronghold was raised, which in time expanded with the addition of an ancillary settlement on the neighbouring Wzgórze Staromiejskie. At the turn of the 12th century the adjacent settlement developed into a proto-urban unit of c. 2-3000 inhabitants. In 1317 Ladislaus the Elbow-High, in creating centres to counter the influence of large, rebellious towns, granted the citizens of Lublin a town charter based on the Magdeburg law. The political objectives of Ladislaus were further pursued by Casimir the Great, on whose initiative the city walls were built in 1342. By the late 14th century Lublin, which was evolving in the border region between Poland and Ruthenia, gained a monopoly on trade between the Crown and Lithuania. Foreign merchants and craftsmen - Armenians, Ruthenians, Tartars and Jews - willingly settled in the town. Its splendour was bolstered by the Jagiellonians. On 1 July 1569 one of the most important acts in the history of Poland was signed at Lublin Castle - the Polish-Lithuanian Union, which brought into being the Republic of Two Nations (otherwise known as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). The castle’s origins date back to the creation of the castellany of Lublin in the 12th century. In the first half of the 13th century a stone tower was raised, which formed the starting point for the construction of King Casimir’s castle. In c. 1520 Sigismund I the Old began to remodel the castle into a sumptuous residence. The building fell into decay during the wars of the 17th century. In 1823-1826 I. Stompf converted it into a prison, creating a Neo-Gothic style building. Its highlight is the Gothic chapel of the Holy Trinity (known as the Castle Chapel) with its Ruthenian Byzantine frescoes - the most beautiful and best preserved examples in Poland. King Ladislaus Jagiełło commissioned Ruthenian artists, Master Andrej chief among them, to adorn the chapel interiors with wall paintings inspired by the Eastern Orthodox canon (1418).

In 1578 the town became the seat of the Crown Tribunal - the highest appeal court for members of the nobility. The Tribunal’s activities, and the several-month-long periods of residence which they entailed among the nobility, stimulated the town’s economic development, offering its citizens some respite from the effects of a series of economic crises. These crises, which arose in the mid-17th century and continued into the early 19th century, led to a decline in Lublin’s status, relegating it to the role of a secondary town during this period. After the partitions of Poland, Lublin recovered from its fall, although it never regained its position as a major trade centre.

The city retains its historic urban layout with a market square and partly regular network of streets (slightly disrupted by the remains of the pre-charter town plan), a magnificent old town hall, a section of its defensive walls and houses dating from the 16th-19th century. Ever more splendid houses began to appear in this wealthy city (particularly around the Market Square); in the Renaissance period they were topped with attic storeys and decorated with beautiful stonework. The dynamic development of the 15th and 16th centuries forced new building projects to spread beyond the city walls. The direction of Lublin’s spatial expansion was dictated by two large 15th-century convents (of the Visitationist and Bridgettine orders) and by the Krakowskie and Korce suburbs. This area was enclosed in c. 1570 by a line of ramparts. Beyond this line lay a square which later came to be known as the Lithuanian Square (the name deriving from the Lithuanians encamped there at the time when the union between Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was being forged).

Stronghold Gate is located opposite the castle, to which it was formerly connected by a drawbridge. At the other end of the Old Town stands the 14th-century Cracow Gate, which was remodelled in Renaissance style in the 16th century and was later topped by a Baroque helm. The gate provided access to routes leading towards Warsaw and Cracow, Zamość and Lvov and towards the Podlesie region. Lublin’s most notable ecclesiastical buildings include the cathedral (formerly a Jesuit church), the 16th-17th-century Dominican monastery, the 17th-century Barefoot Carmelite convent, the 17th-18th-century Lazarite monastery and the late Baroque Carmelite friary dating from c. 1742. The Church of Our Lady of Victory was a votive offering made by Jagiełło after his triumph at the Battle of Grunwald. The Jesuit Church of SS John the Baptist and John the Evangelist was built in 1592-1604 to a design by J. M. Bernardoni. After a fire in 1752 the interior was remodelled and covered with illusionist wall paintings. In 1818 this church became a cathedral and its frontal elevation was embellished with a Neo-Classical portico by A. Corazzi. Other than its lavish Baroque interior, the cathedral’s other main attractions are its 18th-century sacristy and the polychrome decoration of the treasury. The Observant Franciscan church became a national archetype exemplifying Lublin style churches. It was adapted from a late Gothic hall church in 1602-1607 probably by Jakub Balin, and it was here that he first used modelled plaster ceiling decoration. In the 17th and 18th centuries Lublin was further enhanced by the palaces of the magnatial Czartoryski and Lubomirski families (located on Radziwiłłowska Street and Litewski Square respectively); the latter was designed by Tylman van Gameren.

General information

  • Type: urban layout
  • Chronology: koniec XII - XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Lublin
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district Lublin, commune Lublin
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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