The “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre is a local government cultural institution based in Lublin. It works towards the preservation of cultural heritage and education. Its function is tied to the symbolic and historical meaning of the Centre’s location in the Grodzka Gate, which used to divide Lublin into its respective Christian and Jewish quarters, as well as to Lublin as a meeting place of cultures, traditions and religions.

Part of the Centre are the House of Words and the Lublin Underground Trail.

The “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre is a local government cultural institution based in Lublin. It works towards the preservation of cultural heritage and education. Its function is tied to the symbolic and historical meaning of the Centre’s location in the Grodzka Gate, which used to divide Lublin into its respective Christian and Jewish quarters, as well as to Lublin as a meeting place of cultures, traditions and religions.

Part of the Centre are the House of Words and the Lublin Underground Trail.

Kowalska Street in Lublin - history of the street

Communication route which runs at the foot of Old Town’s hill, leading from the downtown, near the castle, to the Kalinowszczyzna district. Before the Second World War Kowalska joined the Szeroka Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name of the street

Street name sign on Kowalska St.

 

The name ‘Kowalska Street’ (‘Blacksmith Street’, from Polish ‘kowal’ - blacksmith) appeared in the area of today’s Kowalska in the 18th century. Earlier it was the name of today’s Zielona Street.

 

 

 

 

 

Timeline of Kowalska St.

before 1838 - beginning of construction of the apartment house no. 15, Kowalska St.
1845  - beginning of construction of the apartment house no. 11
1848 - construction of the apartment house no. 17
1860 - beginning of construction of the apartment house no. 9
1870 - beginning of construction of the apartment house no. 3
1874 - construction of the stairs between Kowalska and Rybny Square, afterwards named the Hartwigs Alley
1875 - beginning of construction of the apartment house no. 5
march 1941 - construction of the gate to the Lublin Ghetto at the Kowalska - Lubartowska intersection.
1954 - restoration works in Kowalska St., related to construction of the People’s Gatherings Square (Plac Zebrań Ludowych) and rearrangement of the Old Town.

History of Kowalska St.

Collection of photographs of Kowalska St.Kowalska St. is a communication route running at the foot of Old Town’s hill, leading from the downtown, near the castle, to the Kalinowszczyzna district. Before the Second World war it  joined Szeroka Street. Nowadays it connects Lubartowska St. with the Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy). Buildings along the right side of the street (when looking from the intersection with Lubartowska St.) had been being constructed since the second half of the 19th century, following the layout of the former fortified walls. The left side of the street had been partially built-up already in the 18th century.

During the Second World War, the main gate to the Lublin Ghetto was located at the intersection of Kowalska and Lubartowska. It was here that the selections of the inhabitants of the Ghetto were carried out in March and April 1942.

Kowalska St., along with preserved quarter of apartment houses in Furmańska, Cyrulicza and Lubartowska streets, constitutes the only remnants of the pre-war Jewish district.

From “The Catalog of Cultural Resources of Lublin”

Kowalska St., house no. 2 brick house from the 2nd half of the 19th century, annexes built in 1907
Kowalska St., house no. 3 brick house, built 1870-1871
Kowalska St., house no. 4 housing complex:
a. brick house, built at the beginning of the 19th century
b. no. 4a, brick house from the turn of the 19th century
c. no. 4b, brick house from the turn of the 19th century
Kowalska St., house no. 5 brick house with a side annex, built 1874 - 1879, designed by Ludwik Meyzner, undergone a few repairs including the one in 1980-1990, supervised by architect Maria Wenzel
Kowalska St., house no. 7 brick house with a side annex, built ca. 1870, repaired after 1948
Kowalska St., house no. 9 brick house, built in 1860, repairs in 1937 and 1954
Kowalska St., house no. 11 brick house, built ca. 1845, repaired in 1966
Kowalska St., house no. 13 brick house, built 1841 - 1843, repairs in 1954 and 1967
Kowalska St., house no. 15 brick house, built before 1838, expansion and rearrangement in 1937, destroyed in 1944, rebuilt 1952 - 1954
Kowalska St., house no. 17 housing complex, Grodzka Street, no. 36:
a. brick house from the XVIII century, rearranged in 1862 and at the end of the 19th century, destroyed in 1939, rebuilt 1952 - 1954, repaired 1968 - 1969
b. Kowalska St., brick house no. 17,, built 1848 - 1858 (added to Grodzka St., no. 36), rearranged at the turn of the 20th century, repair works in 1954
Kowalska St., house no. 19 brick house, built 1752 - 1758, expanded in the 4th quarter of the 19th century, rearranged before 1939

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Objects located in Kowalska Street

Former fortification lines running along one of Kowalska’s frontages, consisted, among others, of two towers: Katowska (Executioner’s Tower) and Okrągła (Round Tower).

Katowska Tower was located above the Kowalska St. no. 5 apartment house. It was squarely shaped and covered with tented roof. Executioner’s house was located nearby.

Okrągła Tower stood below the junction with Lubartowska St., its remnants can be seen on the premises adjacent to the house no. 25 on Lubartowska Street. The tower was roundly shaped, consisted of two floors and was suitable for the use of heavy weaponry. In 1798, due to landslides on the slope, on the edge of which the tower stood, it was decided that the building would be pulled down.

Located approximately in the area of today’s Hartwigs Alley was Cloaca Maxima - an open sewage drain that collected the rainwater and sewage from the Old Town area. Because of frequent breakdowns, it was converted into an underground sewer in 1835. In 1874 the stairs were constructed above it, that still exist today. In 2004 the stairs were given the name of Hartwigs Alley (Pol. Zaułek Hartwigów), in honor of one of Lublin’s notable families.

At 14, Kowalska St., in the house of dr Jakub Cynberg, the first private synagogue in Lublin had been founded before the First World War. Alongside it, a small secular school had been established, where the lessons in modern Hebrew were being taught. It was here where the first founders of the Zionist movement in Lublin were meeting. In the house no. 11, during the World War II, Henio Żytomirski lived with his parents.

Before the World War II a well was located at the intersection of Kowalska and Szeroka streets. It provided water for inhabitants of the area. Presumably, it was similar to the well which can be seen at the local bus station.

Kowalska Street in guidebooks to Lublin

Kowalska St. is mentioned in several guidebooks to Lublin. Authors refer to it mostly in context of the Jewish District.

 

Zenon Sierpiński in the guidebook “Obraz miasta Lublina” (‘The View of the City of Lublin’) from 1839:
As far as location is concerned, one can divide Lublin into two towns. The proper old town containing the Market Square and main streets, spans the area of hills, not very high, situated almost exactly in the middle; second is the lower town - the Jewish one, with Podzamcze (castle grounds) district, Szeroka, Kowalska, Ruska streets, Czechówka Dolna (Lower Czechówka) settlement and Kazimierz suburb.
In the Czechówka river bed, along Nadstawna and Kowalska streets, an enormous pond had been located. It was drained only several dozen years ago. Meadows were also fenced with dikes running northward and eastward. Such was the rise of water in the springtime, that wood, grain and other products were rafted all the way to Wieprz river.
13. 14. Wroński’s and Umieniecki family’s palaces in the Królewska Street, as well as Kieps’ one in Kowalska St., are actually nothing but a mere old apartment houses.

>>>Read the whole guidebook by Zenon Sierpiński (in Polish)

 

Maria Ronikierowa in “The Illustrated Guidebook to Lublin” from 1901 refers to the Kowalska Street as one of the streets in the Jewish district in relation to the fire of Lublin in 1719:
Fire started on 2 June in Kowalska St., outside the city walls. Driven by the wind, it moved into the city and to the outskirts; Grodzka, Złota, Rybna, Krakowskie Przedmieście, Zielona streets, as well as the whole Podzamcze, were burnt down. Fright and terror seized the citizens.
>>>Read the whole guidebook by Maria Ronikierowa (in Polish)

 

Majer Bałaban in his guidebook “The Jewish town in Lublin” from 1931, gives more attention to one of the houses, namely 17, Kowalska St.:
A huge warehouse is located at the side of Kowalska St., consisting of the main three-storey building with a pediment and two lower wings. It probably dates from the 17th century (Kowalska St., house no. 17)
The description is accompanied by a print by Karl Richard Henker.
>>>Read the whole guidebook by Majer Bałaban (in Polish)
 

Memories

Jochewed Flumenker and Marian Milsztajn recall midwar sights of the Kowalska St. in their memories.
 

Iconography

The oldest representation of Kowalska Street is a drawing by Adam Leure, from “Album Lubelskie”. In 1917 Karl Richard Henker created a drawing to illustrate “The Jewish Town in Lublin” by Majer Bałaban. In the interwar period, Stefan Kiełsznia provided photographic documentation depicting houses in Kowalska St. Several photographs of Kowalska can be found also in the collection of colour photos taken in the Lublin Ghetto by Max Kirnberger. The alley was the subject of numerous photographs by Edward Hartwig, taken before the Second World War, as well as after its end, especially in 1954.

 

 

Translated into English by Jarosław Kobyłko

Literature on the subject

Gawarecki, H., Gawdzik C, Ulicami Lublina, Lublin 1976.
Nowak B., Lublin. Przewodnik, Lublin 2000.
Wyszkowski M., Denys M., Lublin i okolice. Przewodnik, Lublin 2000.
Kuwałek R., Wysok W., Lublin. Jerozolima Królestwa Polskiego, Lublin 2001
Katalog Zasobów Kulturowych Miasta Lublina, oprac. M. Stasiak, Lublin 1999.
Zabytki architektury i budownictwa w Polsce. Województwo lubelskie, red. I. Kochanowska, Warszawa 1995.