The Royal castle founded by King Casimir the Great, its 13th-century
donjon and 14th-century chapel (wall painting from 1418); the old town
complex; St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist's cathedral
(1592-1604) designed by J.M. Bernardoni, facade by A. Corazzi from 1819
(the "acoustic sacristy"; is well worth a visit; the Dominican monastery
with the late Gothic Church of St Stanislaw the Bishop (remodelled in
the 17th century); the Old Town Hall, from 1579 the seat of The Crown
Tribunal, rebuilt in 1781 by D. Merlini, at present the Wedding Palace;
the 16th and 17th-century tenement houses; the Classicist New Town Hall
(1827-1828), at present the seat of the municipal authorities; the
gates: Brama Krakowska and Brama Grodzka.
Brama Grodzka (the grodzka gate) - Plac Zamkowy (castle square) -
the Site Once Occupied by the Maharshal and Maharam Synagogue - ul.
Kalinowszczyzna (old jewish cemetery) - ul. Walecznych (new jewish
cemetery) - ul. Lubartowska (the yeshivah), the Jewish Hospital, the
Y.L. Peretz Jewish People's House, Chevrat Nossim Synagogue - Plac Ofiar
Getta (the square of the victims of the ghetto) - ul. Kowalska -
The foundation of the town dates from 1317, and the first mention of
the Jewish community from as early as 1336. In 1453, Kazimierz
Jagiellonczyk (King Casimir of the Jagiellonian dynasty) bestowed the
privilege of free trade upon the Jews and in 1523, in return for
participation in the construction of fortifications, they were made
equal in the eyes of the law with the rest of the townsfolk. In 1568 the
two communities became completely separated as the Jewish quarter
obtained the privilegia de non tolerandis Christianis. This resulted in
an isolation which lasted until the middle of the 19th century, so that
one can speak of the presence of Jews in the old town of Lublin only
Lublin's function was that of a centre of intellect. It was the home
of Talmudic schools and Hebrew printing houses. The most renowned
16th-century Lublin institutions of learning included the schools of
Ya'akov ben Yehuda ha-Levi Kopelman, Shalom ben Yosef Shachna and Shlomo
ben Yechiel Luria also known as Maharshal. The most important printers
were the houses of Kalonymos (from 1578) as well as Kalmen and Levi
(from 1630) which published prayer books and Talmudic texts for "all the
towns from the River Bug to the River Spree". From 1580 to 1725,
together with Jaroslaw, Lublin became the centre of Jewish
self-government in the Polish Republic. This is where the Vaad Arba
Aratzot (Diet of the Four Lands) conventions took place. The situation
within Poland worsened and Jews embarked upon adifficult period and
during the war of 1655 the armies of Bohdan Chmielnicki burnt down the
Jewish quarter and 2,000 people were killed. In memory of this tragic
event the Jews of Lublin held aspecial fast until midday on the eve of
the festival of Sukkot.
The end of the 17th century brought religious conflicts. First, in
1670, the "messiah" Sabbatai Tzvi and his followers were declared an
anathema. Then, with the emergence of Chasidism and the development of
the court of tzaddik Yaakov Yitzhak ha-Levi Horovitz also known as the
Seer of Lublin, along-lasting split began in Jewish society.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, 42,000 Jews lived in Lublin
(31% of the population). This large community published its own daily
"Lubliner Tugblat", ran sporting organisations (Samson, Hapoel,
Maccabi), amateur theatres, political parties (Bund, with one of its
famous members Bela Shapiro) and strong trade unions. Jews maintained
good relations with the Poles, although the cultural differences between
the two communities led to the creation of two separate societies.
In 1945 there were still 4,553 Jews in Lublin. In 1990 there were
45. At present efforts are being made to re-create the Lublin Jewish
community under the leadership of Roman Litman. The Polish-Israeli
Friendship Society is also active here. It was established in 1989 by
agroup gathered around Andrzej Nowodworski. The Society numbers 50
members and is focused mostly on information and education. Meetings are
held on the first Tuesday of the month at 5 pm (holiday periods
excepted) at Centrum Kultury w Lublinie (The Lublin Cultural Centre),
ul. Peowiaków 12, phone +81 5360322, e-mail address:
Brama Grodzka (the Grodzka Gate)
Begin atrip around Jewish places of interest in Lublin with the
Grodzka Gate. It was erected as part of the town fortifications during
the reign of King Casimir the Great and obtained its present form in
Behind the gate, in the direction of the castle, there stretched
another world full of houses in which the light of Sabbath candles could
be seen on Friday evenings. Here one entered what was called the
"Jerusalem of Poland". Today the Grodzka Gate is the home of the NN
Theatre. Szeroka 28, the only Lublin restaurant offering Jewish cuisine,
is located next door. Before you get to the gate from the square at ul.
Grodzka 11, you will see the Ochronka building which was purchased in
1870 to serve the needs of the Jewish Orphanage run by Joseph Goldstern.
Plac Zamkowy(Castle Square)
From the Grodzka Gate it is easy to get to Plac Zamkowy where you
will find acommemorative plaque bearing an engraving of the pre-war
network of streets in this part of town. The town quarter shown here
(ul. Cyrulicza, ul. Furmanska, ul. Jateczna, ul. Kowalska, ul.
Krawiecka, ul. Mostowa, ul. Nadstawna, ul. Podzamcze, ul. Ruska and ul.
Szeroka), today just agreen area surrounding the castle, once
constituted the heart of Jewish Lublin, though the poor also lived in
the suburbs of Piaski, Kalinowszczyzna and Wieniawa. The Jews drained
the swamp around the castle and finally the area was incorporated into
the Jewish quarter (known as the Jewish Town). All traces of it finally
disappeared in 1950, when this part of Lublin was redeveloped.
Strolling across the open spaces surrounding the castle, it is
hard to imagine the intricate network of streets tightly packed with
houses which once filled this place. The language heard here was mostly
Yiddish; unlike in Cracow, many Lublin Jews (about 20%) spoke no Polish
at all. They could be identified by a specific pronunciation of the
personal pronoun "I" - yech. (It was pronounced yach in Warsaw, ech in
the Malopolska region and ich in The Grand Duchy of Lithuania.) Ul.
Szeroka stretching from ul. Kowalska to ul. Ruska was regarded as the
wealthiest street. Many of the houses suffered from neglect. Flats
lacked toilet and sewage facilities. The spot separating ul. Szeroka
from ul. Krawiecka and ul. Podzamcze was, in a somewhat vulgar fashion,
referred to as "Zasrana Brama" (the Shitty Gate) and the poor lived in
the area behind it. Ul. Kowalska and ul. Cyrulicza belonged to
merchants, ul. Furmanska was known for the sale of poultry. Bubelach
(buckwheat cakes eaten warm with butter), a delicacy characteristic of
the Lublin Jews, were sold near the Grodzka Gate.
The Site Once Occupied by the Maharshal and Maharam Synagogue
The route from Podzamcze to the Old Jewish Cemetery goes along al.
Tysiaclecia. Take the right side of this street at the foot of the
castle and walk across the area of the former synagogue square in ul.
Jateczna, a street which no longer exists. On the raised part of the
pavement you will see amemorial stone. It is on the site where a Lublin
Jewish community landmark, the Maharshal and Maharam Synagogue, once
stood. It was also known as The Maharshal-shul, in honour of Rabbi
Shlomo ben Yechiel Luria.
Rabbi Shlomo ben Yechiel Luria
(1510-1574), known as Maharshal, was one of the most brilliant
Talmudic scholars of his time. In 1555 he arrived in Lublin to take up
the position of Rector of the Yeshivah founded by another distinguished
scholar Shalom ben Yosef Shachna. He soon became involved in aconflict
with his protector (regarding the methodology of teaching) and in 1567
he founded his own yeshivah called Maharshal-shul (The Maharshal
Synagogue). He became a great authority by resolving numerous religious
questions. His solutions to various problems were published in Lvov
(1574) in the collection Yam shel Shlomo (The Sea of Salomon). The
second of the patrons of the largest Lublin synagogue was Mayer ben
Gidali (d. 1616) also known as Maharam, a commentator on the Talmud. The
name of the last gagbai (governor) of the Maharshal synagogue was David
Keller. His splendid baal-kore (recitations of the Torah) have passed
The Maharshal-shul was erected in 1567 and destroyed by the Germans
in 1942. In fact it was not one but two synagogues: the Maharshal on the
ground floor and the Maharam on the first, together accommodating 3,000
worshippers. In keeping with the contour of ul. Jateczna the wall of
this edifice was somewhat rounded. The vestibule has an interesting
story. This is where, until the 19th century, the convicts sentenced by
the Beth Din (Rabbinical Court) were detained, tied to the wall. Daily
prayers took place in asmall room next to the vestibule. The main part
of the synagogue was opened on Shabbat and on other holidays. During the
period between the First and the Second World Wars, Jewish soldiers of
the 8th Regiment of the Polish Legions prayed here as well and sang the
hymn "Boze, cos Polske" (God who protected Poland) in front of the
Sections for women were on the ground floor on the north and south
sides and on the first floor next to the northern wall. The most
prestigious places were to be found next to the eastern wall. Eminent
members of the congregation sat here, as did the wealthy, who paid for
the privilege. Opposite the Maharshal Synagogue, where the street runs
today, the Kahal Synagogue used to stand. Other famous Lublin synagogues
included the Leifershul at ul. Podzamcze 12, the beautiful Kotlarshul
at ul. Szeroka 2, as well as the Rebbe's Beth Hamidrash in the courtyard
of the house of the Seer of Lublin at ul. Szeroka 28. There is no trace
of any of them today.
The Old Jewish Cemetery
Al. Tysiaclecia leads to ul. Podzamcze, which will take you to the
crossing with ul. Lwowska. On top of the hill above the Statoil petrol
station you will find one of Lublin's most wonderful Jewish monuments -
the Old Jewish Cemetery.
The cemetery, which functioned from 1541 to 1829, is one of the
oldest and most precious Jewish necropolises in Poland (some sources
mention burials as early as 1489). From the beginning of the 20th
century it has been recognised as a historic monument, but despite this
it has been wrecked several times. After aperiod of neglect during the
Communist era, in the 1980s the cemetery was finally tided and
catalogued by the Society for the Care of Jewish Cultural Monuments in
Lublin. Unfortunately, as aresult of acts of vandalism between 1988 and
1991, forty of the eighty remaining gravestones were destroyed.
A concrete path runs from the gate, leading successively to all the
most significant monuments. The first matzevah dates from 1541 and marks
the resting-place of the famous Talmudist Yaakov ben Yehuda ha-Levi
Kopelman (d. 1596). It is the oldest matzevah in Poland still to be
found at the original place of burial. The next two matzevot belong to
Abraham the Cantor (d. 1543) and the Talmudist Yehuda Leib (d. 1596).
The tomb enclosed in aspecial barred cage, with the remains of wall
paintings covered in numerous kvitlech, is the grave of the Seer of
Further on the path splits in two. The path to the side leads to an
unadorned slab where there are even more lamps and kvitlech than on the
tomb of the Seer. It is the grave of Shalom ben Yosef Shachna, the great
scholar and Talmudist. The third most important matzevah, damaged and
surrounded with candles, was erected in 1574 in memory of Shlomo ben
Yechiel Luria known as Maharshal. Others at rest here are: Moshe
Montalto (d. 1637), afamous physician; Abraham ben Chaim (d. 1762),
president of the Diet of the Four Lands (his unique gravestone bears the
engraving of Artemis with abow); Rabbi Israel ha-Levi Horovitz (d.
1819), known as Eisenkopf (Ironhead), the rival of the Seer (inscription
illegible). The wall around the cemetery was erected in the 17th
The cemetery is on Grodzisko hill between ul. Sienna and ul.
Kalinowszczyzna (where you will find thegate behind the Salesian
Church). Despite its official status as a historical monument, the
cemetery is closed to tourists. The key is with Mr Jozef Honig who lives
on the nearby housing estate at ul. Debowskiego 4/17. It is easy to
reach the cemetery by bus. Get off at Plac Singera-Kosciol. Buses # 1,
5, 6, 10, 11, 16, 57, 58, ZA.
The New Jewish Cemetery
The new cemetery was established in 1829 thanks to the efforts of
Nachum Morgernstern. It is located in ul. Walecznych, not far from the
Old Cemetery (access from ul. Podzamcze). In its present day form it is
made up of two extensive lots (3,5 hectares) with afence around it. Two
structures worthy of attention can be found here: the restored ohel of
Meir Shapiro, visible through the fencing (the tomb is only of symbolic
significance as in 1958 the remains of Rabbi Shapiro were transferred to
the Har Hamenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem), and the so-called Memorial
Chamber containing the symbolic matzevot of the Bass, Wulfman and
The New Jewish Cemetery owes its present appearance to renovation
work undertaken thanks to financial support from Sara and Manfred
Bass-Frenkel in homage to the members of their families murdered by the
Nazis. The cemetery has been functioning since 1830. It is the final
resting-place of over 50,000 people, including the members of the
dynasty of tzaddik Jacob Leib Eiger, whose "court" existed from 1851
Only one section of the cemetery is accessible; the other, containing the Memorial Chamber and the ohel, is closed to visitors.
Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin (the Lublin Academy of Sages)
The impressive edifice of the former Lublin Academy of Sages stands
on the corner of ul. Unicka and ul. Lubartowska. It is hard to miss, as
it is on the approach road from Lubartow to the town centre and the PKS
bus station. The school was founded by Rabbi Yehuda Meir Shapiro, the
site having been donated by Shmul Aichenbaum and the plans drawn up by
Yehuda Meir Shapiro (1887-1933), who rests in anewly renovated
ohel at the New Jewish Cemetery, brought credit upon the town,
particularly as the creator of the Lublin Yeshivah, although he was
atowering figure for all of Polish Jewry. He was born in Suczawa in
Bukovina. During his career (one of the posts he held was that of
Rabbinate of Sanok) he published two works which brought him universal
acclaim: Imrei Daat (The Word of Knowledge, 1919) and Or Hameir (The
Light of Brightness, 1926). From 1922 until 1927 he was amember of the
Polish Parliament. His greatest dream was to create aworldwide
Rabbinical-Talmudic college. It came true in the form of the Lublin
Yeshivah (The Lublin Academy of Sages).
Yeshivat Chachmei, photo: A.Olej&K. Kobus:
Construction went on for six years (1924-1930), swallowing up
considerable funds which came mostly from the USA and Western Europe.
The school operated for nine years only, yet it achieved great fame.
Lecture halls took up five floors, the dormitory housed 200 students and
the library contained 10,000 volumes of Talmudic literature. To
complete things there was agarden of 12,000 trees. Study began with
Mechina (preparatory courses). At the entrance examinations prospective
students had to prove that they knew as many as 200 pages of the Talmud
by heart. The brightest students took up higher Talmudic studies,
obtaining the title of Tzurva de-rabanan. The first graduates left the
college in 1934.
The building still serves educational purposes as the Collegium
Maius of the Medical Academy. After the collapse of Communism the
Academy authorities allotted special premises (well worth seeing) to
visitors to the former Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin. The first room you
enter is aspacious lecture hall, which was once also used as asynagogue.
It occupies the second and third floors of the building. It is
rectangular, with galleries situated on three sides and resting on
circular columns. Nothing remains of its rich pre-war furnishings, nor
of the windows on the eastern wall (now bricked up). The second hall of
particular interest is the library which contains aseparate prayer room.
Here you will find anew aron ha-kodesh, aparochet (ark curtain) and the
texts of prayers.
The school at ul. Lubartowska 85 is part of the premises of the
Medical Academy, used for lecture purposes. The wardens, however, are
ready to help visitors and will willingly take you to both places.
Awalk up ul. Lubartowska will take you through the area of what was
known as the new Jewish quarter. It has managed to retain much of its
original character. Though the original Jewish district was spread over
the territory around the castle, in the second half of the 19th-century
Jews began to settle along ul. Lubartowska and on Czwartek hill. Take
the left side of the street.
The edifice adjacent to the Lublin Yeshivah is the former Jewish
Hospital (today an obstetrics clinic) established in 1886. In the
1930sit had ahundred beds at its disposal and employed many famous
physicians, including Jacob Cynberg. In 1986 the site was marked with
acommemorative plaque in Polish and Yiddish.
Bejt Midrasz, photo: A.Olej&K. Kobus:
Keeping on the same side, go to the corner of ul. Czwartek, where
the atmosphere is reminiscent of bygone days. Inthe yard opposite
building No 7, there is aplace very important in the history of the
Lublin community - the Y.L. Peretz Jewish People's House (ul. Szkolna
16). Erected on the initiative of the Lublin Bund and completed in 1939,
the building was never used for its original purpose as acentre of
Jewish life. For afew years after 1945, it was the headquarters of the
Jewish Committee, the library and acultural society. At present it
houses the local healthcare authority. From here go back to ul.
Lubartowska and walk up to the only remaining Lublin synagogue.
The Synagogue of Chevrat Nossim
This synagogue was established at the end of the 19th century as
ahouse of prayer and learning for the Funeral Society Chevrat Nossim.
Shiur be-tsibur (Talmudic lectures) which were given here by Moshe
Aisenberg and David Mushkatblit achieved great popularity. The synagogue
functioned until 1984, when services on Saturdays and festivals were
suspended for want of aminyan. The building was then renovated and since
1987 one of itssections has served religious purposes (joyous
occasions, such as the bar mitzvah of Jacob Mushkatblit, great-grandson
of the former lecturer). Apart of it is used as the Memorial Chamber of
the Jews of Lublin, displaying old photographs and Hebrew books and
items used in religious rituals. Unfortunately many of the exhibits
gathered over the past fifty years or so were stolen on 27 May 1995.
Only part of the collection has been retrieved.
The synagogue is situated in ul. Lubartowska, in the part closest to
the town centre. Go through the gate of house number 8 (where you see
the sign "Pawilon 19 - Plaszcze").
Chewra Nosim, photo
At present it is possible to visit the synagogue on Sundays only,
from 1pm to 3pm. Regular services do not take place. On certain Jewish
festivals (Pesach, Chanukah, Purim) meetings are sometimes organised
here by the Polish-Israeli Friendship Society in Lublin.
Yaakov Yitzhak ha-Levi Horovitz (1745-1815) known as ha-Hose
(the Seer) of Lublin was one of the creators of Polish Chasidism. A
disciple of Elimelech of Lezajsk and Dov-Ber of Miedzyrzec, he was most
famous for his extraordinary skills such as treatment of infertilty,
clairvoyance and levitation, thanks to which he became one of the heroes
of Jewish folklore. His teachings focused on ethical perfection. He cut
himself off from the wickedness of the world by wearing a blindfold all
the time. The circumstances of his tragic death are a mystery.
According to his followers, in a state of religious ecstasy he was to
levitate out of the window of the house at ul. Szeroka 28, loudly
demanding the arrival of the Messiah. The urgency of this demand did not
please the Lord, who brought him down to earth by making him fall from
the second floor. It happened during the festival of Tisha B'Av, on the
day of the fast in memory of the destruction of the First and the Second
Temple. This only enhanced the legend of the tzaddik.
Plac Ofiar Getta
Further along ul. Lubartowska you come to Plac Ofiar Getta (Square
of the Victims of the Ghetto) where you will find amemorial with the
following quotation: "In every handful of ashes Iseek those close to me"
from The Song of the Murdered Jewish People by Yitzchak Katzenelson.
The square was laid out in 1951. There was alarge Jewish market-place
here until the end of the 1920s.
End your trip to the most important Jewish places of interest in
Lublin with awalk along the charming ul. Kowalska. It is one of the few
places in Lublin where you can still feel genius loci of the old Jewish
Ulica Kowalska, photo
From the Jewish community of Lublin came the family of the
famous composer Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880), who also gained fame as
one of the greatest violinists of the second half of the 19th century.
His father, Tobiasz Pietruszka, a physician, converted to Catholicism
and changed his name to Tadeusz Wieniawski, taken from the place where
they lived, called Wieniawa, now a district of Lublin.
The concentration camp in the Majdanek suburb of Lublin, established
in the autumn of 1941 on the orders of Heinrich Himmler, is the place
where the history of the Jews of Lublin came to atragic end. The camp
was 270 hectares in size and contained 280 buildings. Its central
section consisted of barracks for 25,000 prisoners at atime. The camp
was liquidated in July 1945. Amuseum exhibiting some of its structures
(barracks, gas chambers, crematoria, mass execution ditches and
SS-women's living quarters) was set up here after the war. Ahuge
memorial in the form of amausoleum designed by Witold Tolkin has been
built to pay homage to the 360,000 victims (of whom 100,000 were Jews).
Apermanent exhibition "Majdanek in the System of Camps" by Anna
Wisniewska and Czeslaw Rajca, with art design by Brunon Nagrodzki, is
located on the former camp site. On display you will find archive
materials, including photographs as well as various exhibits: articles
of clothing, instruments of death, items used for religious purposes and
objets d'art. The exhibition is housed in barracks 43, 44, 45, 52,
along with the baths, gas chambers and crematorium. In barrack 47 there
is the multimedia installation entitled "Shrine", created by Tadeusz
Myslowski with music by Zbigniew Bargielski. It was created to
commemorate the 55th anniversary of the liberation of the camp. The
museum organises history workshops, readings and meetings with former
camp inmates as well as documentary film shows about the war and the
camps in Polish, English, French, German and Russian. It also publishes
its own periodical "The Majdanek Booklets".
State Museum at Majdanek, ul. Droga Meczenników Majdanka 67, 20-325
Lublin, phone +81 7442640; 7442647. The easiest way to get to the museum
is along the road to Zamosc(ul. Droga Meczenników Majdanka). Buses #
23, 28, 153, 156, 158. The exhibition "Majdanek in the System of Camps"
is open daily (except Mondays and holidays) from 8am to 6pm (May to
September) and 8am to 3pm (October to April), prior notification
required. The installation can be seen from May to September, from 8am
to 3pm. Entrance is free. Charges are made for guide services and film
shows only. Children under the age of 14 are not admitted.
You are welcome to discuss about "Lublin"