Holy Trinity Chapel in Lublin
The Holy Trinity Chapel, adjacent to the Lublin Castle, is one of the finest examples of Medieval art in Poland. Its Gothic architecture, combined with Byzantine-Ruthenian polychromes, makes up a unique synthesis of Eastern and Western cultures.
The castle hill, at the eastern end of the Lublin Castle's southern flank.
The castle chapel
The exact time of construction of the Holy Trinity church remains unknown. The earliest mentions date back to 1326. The chapel had indisputably been constructed before 1418, because the polychromes were finished that year.
In 15th and 16th centuries the church was receiving considerable endowments. In 1497 king Jan I Olbracht issued a prerogative in Sandomierz that confirmed all the previous foundations and donations on behalf of the Holy Trinity chapel. A record from 1564 confirms that vicars’ house stood next to the church. Their incomes were sufficient to maintain the building in good condition. In 1569, during the deliberations regarding the Union of Lublin, major representatives of the Crown of Poland and of Lithuania, along with other European delegates, were staying there. Some of them left inscriptions on the walls of the chapel that contained the date 1569 and their names.
After 1575, when vicars had been moved to the St. Michael collegiate church, the castle chapel began to deteriorate. It can be seen in an engraving from 1618, by Hogenberg and Braun, where it is partially obscured by the vicars’ house. The chapel’s roof is coped with a Gothic stepped top. During wars against the Swedes and the Cossacks, the chapel was significantly damaged. The painting entitled The Fire of the City of Lublin depicts the devastated castle complex, of which only the tower and the chapel have survived. Despite numerous repairs ordered by Lublin starosts throughout the 17th century, the buildings on the castle hill deteriorated further and the Holy Trinity chapel turned into ruins. In the years 1823-1826, after the castle had been converted to a prison, a two storey annex of penitentiary purpose was attached to the southern side of the chapel. The church was plastered and its roof was covered with new tiles. Polychromes were covered with layer of plaster and lime. They were uncovered only in 1897, by Józef Smoliński, a painter from Lublin.
In late 19th century, during construction works on the castle hill, the presbytery of the chapel was lowered, the inside stairs demolished, the portal was converted to a window and the main entrance which connected the chapel with the prison was located in the southern wall.
During the Second World War services were occasionally taking place in the upper section of the chapel, while the lower one accommodated a warehouse.
In 1954, after the castle had been given to the Lublin Museum, renovation of the chapel’s architecture was carried out. Communication route between the ground floor and the first floor was re-established. The ground floor was laid with stone and the upper one with ceramic plates. Further restoration works, mainly concerning the polychromes, were completed in 1997.
>>read more about the polychromes in the Holy Trinity chapel
1326 - earliest mentions regarding the existence of the Holy Trinity church
1418 - the church decorated with Byzanthine-Ruthenian paintings
1575 - vicars move, with all the endowment, to the St. Michael Church, the chapel begins to deteriorate
17th century - the Holy Trinity chapel is seriously damaged during wars against the Swedes and the Cossacks
1st half of the 19th century - construction of the prison on the castle hill, remodeling of the chapel and covering the polychromes with plaster
1897 - painter Józef Smoliński uncovers the Byzantine-Ruthenian paintings
1954-1997 - restoration of the architecture of the chapel
Description of the building
Chapel’s layout consists of the square shaped body, joined with elongated presbytery, closed with triangularly shaped wall. An octagonal pillar, located in the middle of the nave, supports the fan vault with ribs made of bricks and keystones cut out of sandstone. Similar vaulting was used in the presbytery.
Compiled by Anna Szlązak
Edited by Monika Śliwińska