Kraków Gate in Lublin
Heading from Krakowskie Przedmieście Street towards the Old Town, one notices the silhouette of the Kraków Gate (Pol. Brama Krakowska) from far away. History of this brick building reaches back to the 14th century. After the minacious Tatar raid of 1341, it was decided that the city would be surrounded with fortified walls and gates. The Kraków Gate, which was named after the route and the suburb towards which it led, is one of those gates.
The area of the Old Town. The gate serves as the southwestern entrance.
Entrance gate into the city, part of the former fortified wall. In the 1960s the building was adapted for use as museum.
Originally, Kraków Gate was referred to as the Higher Gate (Pol. Brama Wyższa) and it was the only entrance into Lublin. Construction of the Gothic gate had commenced in 1341, together with construction of city walls. In the 1st half of the 16th century builder Sebastian Włoch added the gatehouse with battlements and turrets in the corners. Fortified wall that surrounded the entire Old Town hill adjoined the tower from both sides, i.e. from the north and the south. Moat was dug in front of the gate and a wooden bridge was thrown over it.
The gate had burned down in 1557 and was being reconstructed until 1575. Its appearance before the next fire of Lublin in 1575 was described by Sebastian Klonowic. From his account we learn that then the gate already had a bell-shaped spire, with a golden sphere on top, visible from far away. It also boasted an admirable clock, as well as balustrades and balconies for trumpeters and guards. The first major damage to the gate was done by the fire of 1575. Reconstruction was completed probably in 1585. The bell hanging inside the gate is marked with this very date. During the reign of Stefan Batory, i.e. after 1576, the first clock was fitted in the gate. Since the beginning of the 17th century, numerous stands, booths and butcher stalls stood inside the gate, around it and on the embankment. At the same time, owing to the royal decree issued in 1611, alterations were made in the vicinity of the gate, consisting mainly in remodeling the fortified walls. Furthermore, the repairs, which were to last for the next centuries, commenced. A doorkeeper, so-called wrotny, who handled the entrance, lived in the building at that time. The city also employed a clocksmith that attended the gate clock. Since 1686, the gate also housed a member of the Field Musicians Fraternity (Pol. Bractwo Muzyków Polnych), i.e. a trumpeter.
The first thorough restoration of the Kraków Gate took place in 1673, however sources do not provide precise information on the type of works carried out. Another comprehensive repairs took place in the years 1742-1745. They covered, among others, the vault and the accommodation rooms inside the gate, as well as stairs and windows. The gatehouse, covered with gable roof, appeared slightly different than today. Moreover, the side elevation was lowered, which made the crenellation invisible, because major part of the gatehouse side wall had been dismantled.
Despite the repairs, the Kraków Gate began to deteriorate. Therefore, in 1778 the City Council decided to carry out another restoration. It was completed in 1782, as the date put on top of the building, under king Stanisław August’s monogram, attests. In the early 19th century, the painting of Immaculately Conceived Mother of God was embedded into the facade facing the Old Town. Ca. 1820, the municipality ordered four stores to be built in the gate. In 1823, in course of repairs supervised by Jakub Hempel, the old entrance leading from the market square was removed and replaced with a new one. Further modifications of the gate were made in 1839 - a frame was cut out in order to accommodate painting depicting St. Anthony, the patron saint of Lublin, and the facade of the gatehouse was remodeled: four windows were cut out and set in panels coped with Neo-Gothic arches.
In the years 1844-1845, an iron gallery surrounding the tower was arranged at the level of the trumpeter balconies. It served also as the viewpoint for the firemen. In 1890 the plaster was whitewashed and the royal monogram at the top was gilded. The following years did not see any repairs. A thorough restoration was executed in 1954. The iron gallery was removed and two balconies were reinstated. In the years 1959-1964, comprehensive repairs were conducted, along with re-gothicisation and adaptation for use as museum. It was then that, among others, plaster was removed on the outside and the balconies of the gatehouse were reconstructed. Since 1965 the Kraków Gate has been home of the Museum of the History of the City of Lublin. The last repairs of the gate were concluded in 2007.
1341 - construction of the Kraków Gate and fortified walls of Lublin commenced
1st half of the 16th century - builder Sebastian Włoch adds a gatehouse to the building
1557 - partial destruction of the building in a fire
1575 - another severe damage in the fire of Lublin; reconstruction was completed probably in 1585
1673 - repair works
1742-1745 - thorough repairs, during which the vault, the accommodation rooms, stairs and windows were restored
1778 - an act issued by the City Council orders another restoration following the design by Domenico Merlini
1820 - four stores built inside the gate
1823 - repairs of the Kraków Gate supervised by Jakub Hempel, removal of the old entrance from the side of the market square
1839 - an opening cut out in the wall to fit the painting depicting St. Anthony
1844-1845 - construction of the gallery surrounding the tower at the level of the trumpeter balcony
1890 - repairs of building’s exterior
1954 and 1959-1964 - re-gothicisation supervised by architect Wacław Podlewski
1947 - painting depicting Virgin Mary fitted in the facade
1967 - the building transferred to the Museum of the History of the City of Lublin
2007, 2012 - renovations of the Kraków Gate
Description of the building
The Kraków Gate is a Gothic edifice. Its body consists of two parts: the proper gate in form of a four-sided prism with octagonal tower and the gatehouse, which is lower. A Baroque bell-shaped spire with Stanisław August’s monogram, date 1782, a crown and a crucifix covers the body. Walls of the gatehouse built in Gothic-Renaissance style reach up to the half of gate’s height. They are coped with an embankment of protective function. The core of the gate itself is decorated with specially fired bricks and ashlar. Key-shaped loopholes are of solely decorative purpose.
The surroundings of the Kraków Gate consist of houses on Lubartowska (to the north), and Królewska (to the south) streets, adjoining the gate from both sides. Władysław Łokietek Square is located in front of the gate and Bramowa street begins behind it.
Basista K., Chmiewski J., Brama Krakowska w malarstwie i grafice, Lublin 1986.
Denys M., Wyszkowski M., Lublin i okolice. Przewodnik, Lublin 2001, s. 32.
Gawarecki H., Podlewski W., Brama Krakowska w Lublinie, Lublin 1971.
Jakimińska G., Brama Krakowska. Historia, Lublin 1995.
Nowak B. [red:], Lublin. Przewodnik, Lublin 2000, s. 121–125.
Obraz powrócił nad Bramę Krakowską, „Kurier Lubelski” 1988, nr 212.
Podlewski W., Nowy wygląd Bramy Krakowskiej, „Kultura i życie” R. 13, 1964, nr 14.
Teodorowicz-Czerepińska J., Brama Krakowska, „Kurier Lubelski” 1985, nr 18.