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.

Krakowskie Przedmieście - history of the street

The “Cracow route” has always played an important role in city’s life. Several momentous and seminal historic events took place on this very street. Earlier, the “Cracow route” included Litewski and Łokietka squares and for that reasons these places are also described here. Currently Krakowskie Przedmieście is the main street of Lublin.

 

 

Origins of the street, genesis of the name

The name “Krakowskie Przedmieście” (“The Cracow Suburb”) was formerly related not only to the street. During medieval and renaissance periods, it was the name of the whole district located opposite to Krakowska Gate (Cracow Gate), on the sides of the route to Cracow. The name “Przedmieście” (Suburb) referred then to settlements located outside the city walls and exempt from the city law, yet situated on the grounds that belonged to the city. After Lublin had been fortified by Kazimierz Wielki, Krakowskie Przedmieście was built outside the walls. There are two theories concerning the location of Krakowskie Przedmieście. One of them states that the then Cracow route ran from Krakowska Gate, along today’s Kozia bystreet, then along Narutowicza Street, up to the former Visitandines’ estate, to finally perpendicularly  join Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, by the plot no. 72. Then it ran along today’s Radziszewskiego street, past the KUL (Catholic University of Lublin) chapel and further in the southwestern direction. Position of the exit of the Cracow Gate, which faces Kozia st. instead of today’s Krakowskie Przedmieście, attest to this theory.


According to the other theory, the erstwhile street followed the same route as it does today. Location of the church of the Holy Spirit (Pol.: Kościół św. Ducha) is believed to prove this statement. The church, which remains in its original place since 1419, is reported to have been situated right next to the Cracow route.

Krakowskie Przedmieście in the Polish Golden Age

Events which took place in Lublin in 1569 can hardly be overrated. The monument to the Union of Lublin situated on Litewski (Lithuanian) Square is a reminder of the Polish-Lithuanian seym and concurrent event of another homage of Duke of Prussia. Until 1575 buildings on Krakowskie Przedmieście had been mostly wooden and besides them, there had been chiefly booths and butchers’ stalls. It was all altered by two chronologically close events. The first one was the immense fire of 1575, which burnt most of the medieval wooden buildings down - both inside the city walls and in the suburbs. Since then, by the command of the city council, houses on Krakowskie Przedmieście had to be brick buildings. The other event was the foundation of the Royal Tribunal (Pol.: Trybunał Koronny) in Lublin. The city became an important centre for the noblemen. Many magnates built their mansions and residences along the Cracow route and by today’s Litewski Square, often in the manner of baroque splendour. In 1602, so many as 30 such mansions were already built! Krakowskie Przedmieście had been becoming the high street of Lublin, which might have led to its incorporation into the municipal law in early 17th century. Krakowskie przedmieście had been flourishing together with Lublin up until the wars with Cossacks and Swedes in mid-17th century.

Times of decline - after the wars with Swedes and Cossacks

Since mid-17th century, Lublin has experienced every military defeat of Poland. April 1651 saw the arrival of the whole court of king Jan Kazimierz (John II Casimir Vasa) to Lublin, along with numerous mercenary chorągiew units (chorągiew - literally ‘banner’ - was a basic unit of Polish cavalry). The king was attending their parade on the site of today’s Litewski Square. After Lublin fell into hands of the armies of tsar and Cossacks, Krakowskie Przedmieście shared the fate of other suburbs that fell under the rule of Cossack “hetman”, Wyhowski. Robberies occurred, especially in beautiful palaces and magnates’ mansions. In less than two months, Krakowskie Przedmieście was the venue of a parade of countless Swedish troops. In 1657 the headquarters of the Hungarian-Swedish army was established on Krakowskie Przedmieście, in the Gerwaszkiewiczowa house. Suffering from war damages, Lublin plunged further into decline.

 

Krakowskie Przedmieście ceased to be the high street, gradually turning into an ordinary utility area. The butcher shops reappeared, being set up even inside Cracow Gate. Majority of the palaces fell into decay. Decline of the street had lasted until the partitions of Poland, despite the efforts to improve its condition in the reign of Stanisław August Poniatowski (when the Cracow gate was restored) and during the Duchy of Warsaw period.

In the Congress Kingdom of Poland. History of the street between 1815 and 1915

After the turbulent period of Napoleonic wars, when the city was devastated and contributions were imposed upon it by each of the fighting parties, Lublin became ruined and desolate. Introduced by tsarist authorities, but consisting of Poles, the Municipal Office was meant to deal with the reconstruction. In several years it led the city out of the deep crisis, at the same time expanding and modernizing it. Krakowskie Przedmieście became the most important venue of these changes.


Lublin was divided into two major districts: Christian (comprising the Old Town and Krakowskie Przedmieście) and Jewish (Podzamcze, Czwartek, Kalinowszczyzna). The former Radziwiłł palace had been reconstructed and began to serve as the seat of the Commission of Lublin Voivodeship. New seat of the Municipal Office (today's City Hall) was raised by city authorities on the site of former Carmelite church. Since Krakowskie Przedmieście was intended to become the new city centre, the administration buildings were being located there. The street was adjusted by dismantling the fence at the Capuchin church. The original monument to the Union of Lublin was destroyed at that time, but in August 1826 Stanislaw Staszic put up a new obelisk made of cast iron, which still exists today. An ample square was created around it and named the Military Parade Square (Pol.: Plac Musztry, nowadays Litewski Square).

 

Parades of troops of the Lublin garrison were taking place there. Krakowskie Przedmieście was re-cobbled and in 1817 the first set of street lighting was installed. Initially, these were tallow lamps, later replaced with oil lamps with metal mirrors, which gave more light.


During the November Uprising, Litewski Square was the site of supportive demonstrations, by means of which local citizens displayed their enthusiasm for the struggle for independence. However, as a result of seizure by tsarist troops, Lublin suffered heavy losses due to looting and fires. The situation was further worsened by debts incurred before 1830 that had to be paid by the devastated city.


The situation was normalised owing to generosity of the citizens. Krakowskie Przedmieście was restored and re-cobbled, and the City Garden (nowadays Saski Garden) was founded near the end of the street. The section between Krakowska Gate and Kapucyńska Street came to constitute the city centre. Situated here were the most splendid stores (eg Jan Mincel's colonial shop), the first hotels: "Warszawski" ("Warsaw Hotel") and "Angielski" ("English Hotel"). Much frequented confectionery, ran by Swiss man Kasper Semadeni, was also opened here. Paving this part of Krakowskie Przedmieście with slabs of marble from Chęciny had even been taken under consideration, but this project was abandoned due to the cost of its implementation. Nevertheless, an asphalt pavement was laid. In relation to the creation of the "new market square" between Lubartowska St., Krakowskie Przedmieście and Świętoduska St., many houses in this area had been adopted for commercial use, and merchants became frequent visitors. In 1853, the Society for Charity opened a nursery on Krakowskie Przedmieście - it was a kind of kindergarten for the kids from poor families.


Patriotic sentiments among the local inhabitants were growing more and more intense. On 12 August 1861, a date that marked the anniversary of conclusion of the Union of Lublin, a great demonstration of Lublin citizens took place under the Union monument.The Russian troops prevented access to the obelisk, though. Henryka Pustowójtówna broke through the cordon of soldiers surrounding the monument and repelling the protesters, and laid flowers under it. She was followed by other women gathered there.

 

The January Uprising led to severe persecutions descending upon the city. Russification progressed, military patrols on the streets and numerous arrests were intended to deprive the Poles of their will to fight. This will materialised in, among others, the clandestine printing house in the Capuchin monastery on Krakowskie Przedmieście. It was set up by fr. Wacław Nowakowski, a liaison officer and emissary of the Central National Committee (Pol.: Komitet Centralny Narodowy).


Construction of the monumental orthodox church on Litewski Square in the years 1873-1876 became a symbol of Russian supremacy. It was raised solely for prestigious purposes, as Lublin had never been home to many orthodox christians.


The city, however, kept on evolving. New four-storey houses which were being raised on Krakowskie Przedmieście, accommodated ever more impressive homes and shops. New, elegant hotels were opened: "Europejski" ("European"), nowadays named "Europa", and "Victoria" (destroyed in 1939).


New streets: Ogrodowa, Chopina, Sądowa, Hipoteczna, Zielona, Krótka, Czysta and Cicha, were being built in the vicinity of Krakowskie Przedmieście. Glamorous edifices of Towarzystwo Kredytowe Ziemskie (Landholders’ Credit Society, nowadays the seat of the Voivodship Court) and Kasa Przemysłowców i Kupców Lubelskich (Lublin Industrialists and Merchants' Fund, today Lublinianka Hotel) were constructed. In 1899 the buildings on Krakowskie Przedmieście were connected to the waterworks.


Krakowskie Przedmieście was gaining more and more significance as a place of entertainment. The City Garden and Litewski Square were two places often chosen for strolls. On the ground floor of "Victoria" Hotel, there was a splendid colonial shop ran by Adolf Raszkowski. On the ground floor of the edifice of Kasa Przemysłowców Lubelskich, was, in turn, a magnificent confectionery equipped with billiard tables. Another well-known confectioner's shop was Chmielewski's, situated opposite to the church of the Holy Spirit and still existing today.

 

At the beginning of the 20th century, the cobblestones on Krakowskie Przedmieście were replaced with clinker pavement. This enabled the use of cars to a greater extent, because, even though the first automobile had been driven down Krakowskie Przedmieście already in 1900, it was not a popular means of transport. 1911 saw the first taxis on the streets of Lublin, and in 1912 Lubelska Spółka Samochodowa Zborowskiego (Zborowski's Lublin Car Company) introduced first buses.

The early 20th century

In 1905, strikes and demonstrations of workers commenced in Lublin. Between November and December, socialist parties, along with "nationalists", were organising manifestations which gathered under the calling to overthrow the tsarist regime. Manifestations marched down Krakowskie Przedmieście towards Litewski Square, many of them were brutally suppressed by the police.

 

In response to the wave of terror, Organizacja Bojowa PPS (Combat Organisation of the Polish Socialist Party), which had 50 militants in Lublin, divided into units of ten, took action. Numerous attacks, often taking place on Krakowskie Przedmieście, were carried out. Victims were particularly hated tsarist officials, spies and provocateurs.


It was Lublin, which had been the seat of the occupation authorities so far, that would constitute the germ of the Second Republic. On the night of 6 November 1918, copies of proclamation announcing the formation of the Temporary People's Government of the Polish Republic (Tymczasowy Rząd Ludowy Republiki Polskiej) were hung on walls along the city streets. POW [Polska Organizacja Wojskowa - Polish Military Organization - ed.] captured the post office and majority of strategic points in the city. Guards and sentries were set up. On 7 November, Citizens of Lublin woke up in the interim capital of Poland. Demonstration of many thousands eventually turned into a joyous procession. Members of the Temporary Government spoke to the crowds from the balcony of "Victoria" hotel. The POW troops and former Austrian soldiers of Polish nationality were sworn in on the cathedral square. In the evening, after the arrival of Ignacy Daszyński and Wincenty Witos, the first session of the Government of the Republic of Poland took place in the former governor's palace on Litewski Square.

The interwar period

Between the world wars, Krakowskie Przedmieście was the city's high street.Despite the economical crisis persisting in the twenties, the city was slowly coming to life after the war losses. A loan, granted by the New York-based company "Ulen and co.", was an appreciable relief. It was intended to "cure the economic conditions". Improvements were most evident on Krakowskie Przedmieście. Most elegant shops, restaurants and hotels were situated there. In 1931, new electric lamps were installed on the main street. Power was provided by the local power plant. Many buildings in that area underwent repairs and restorations.
In the interwar period, the first ambulance service in Lublin was established at no. 3, Krakowskie Przedmieście. There was also (at number 49) the private clinic of Dr. Adam Majewski, however it was intended only for wealthy patients.


The City Council (and later the Municipal Board) was settled in the building of the Municipality (which now serves as the Town Hall), renovated and restored after the First World War. Located at the back of the building was a marketplace, dominated by small trade by both Polish and Jewish merchants.


Krakowskie Przedmieście became, besides Saski Garden, the Lubliners' place of choice for a walk. Litewski Square had been tidied up and flowerbeds were arranged there. In the years 1924-1925, demolition of the orthodox church erected under the tsar's rule was carried out.

 

Krakowskie Przedmieście and Litewski Square came to be a venue of festivals and demonstrations, but also anti-Semitic riots, as in April 1919. No public holiday could do without demonstrations and speeches under the monument to the Union of Lublin. Frequent were also parades of Polish Army troops on the main street.


Czesław Dobek, a poet of the interwar era, gave the following description of Krakowskie Przedmieście in his poem, titled Lublin i ja (Lublin and me):


For me -

From Cracow Gate to the far-off City Garden

street, a wide street between serrate walls of houses -

Hotels, cafés, offices, shops redolent of adventure

and the mystery behind the evangelical garden's wall

The Second World War

On 9 september, Lublin was struck with a massive air raid of the Luftwaffe, which caused the largest loss of life so far. Most of the bombs - both highly explosive and incendiary - hit the area of Krakowskie Przedmieście. They destroyed numerous buildings, including the house no. 46, among ruins of which an outstanding poet Joseph Czechowicz perished. Buildings were also destroyed in the area near Krakowska Gate and the gate itself was damaged. The bombs also hit the edifice of the Municipality. One of them had not exploded and the janitor of the Municipal Board, Jan Gilas, carried it out of the building in his own hands. While carrying the heavy load, he succumbed to heart failure. Many cars that had been abandoned by refugees on Litewski Square were destroyed. The Cathedral, water supply station and barracks were all damaged by that raid as well. Further bombings hit the city on 13 and 17 September.

 

When the front came near, the citizens were prepared to fight. Lublin was originally planned to be defended until the end, but General Smorawiński decided to incorporate his city defence troops into General Piskor's group . Hastily organized Civil Committee for the Defence of the City displayed significant efficiency. Captain Stanisław Lis-Błonicki, from his headquarters at no. 20, Krakowskie Przedmieście, coordinated processes of volunteer recruitment, sending patrols and setting up combat stations. Robbery and illegitimate requisition were forbidden on pain of death. Two battalions of volunteers, under command of majors Horwatt and Dudziński, were formed.


During German occupation, the city ​​was experiencing a very difficult period. This was visible even on the main street. After bombings in September, many buildings remained in ruins. A row of apartment houses between the post office and the Capuchin monastery (nowadays Czechowicza Square - Józef Czechowicz Square) was destroyed, along with "Victoria" hotel and many other buildings. Reconstruction was undertaken by the Municipal Board, which operated under supervision of Nazi authorities.


In August 1940, action of replacing Polish names of streets with German ones commenced. In September of that year an enormous ceremony took place, on the occasion of anniversary of the outbreak of war. It was accompanied by a parade of Wehrmacht, SS and police troops on Litewski Square. At the time Krakowskie Przedmieście was renamed the Reichstrasse, and Litewski square - the Adolf Hitler Platz. Six months later the main street was again renamed, this time as the Krakauerstrasse.


Few Poles lived on Krakowskie Przedmieście, which was a result of displacements. When the Germans began setting up restaurants and places of entertainment where only German people were served - "nur für Deutsche", most of those places were being situated on the main street of the city. These included "Europa" (No. 29), "As" (No. 59), "Deutsche Haus" (No. 54). The "Krakauer Hoff" - hotel "exclusively for the Germans" - was opened at 21, Krakowskie Przedmieście. In 1943, there were already nine restaurants, a pharmacy and a bookstore "nur für Deutsche" on the city's main street.


The Polish population was growing poor due to extremely high food prices. As ration cards proved insufficient to secure their survival, smuggling became a common means of providing food. In the summer months, even water was rationed - its distribution was taking place next to the town hall.


Since the Jews were forbidden to leave the ghetto (which functioned between 1941 and 1942) one could not see them on Krakowskie przedmieście. Poles also appeared less and less frequently - they were not permitted to access to the German premises or shops.

 

In May 1940, the German mayor (Oberbürgermeister) announced an action of collecting scrap metal. In the course of this action the fence at the corner of Krakowskie Przedmieście and 3 Maja (the 3rd of May) streets was dismantled. Similar was the fate of the fence around the monument to the Union of Lublin. Every inhabitant of Lublin was also required to collect a certain amount of scrap metal for war purposes of the Third Reich.


German street propaganda affected the Poles by means of disturbing slogans, leaflets and newsreels. Loudspeakers, commonly called "szczekaczki" (from Polish "szczekać" - to bark), which broadcasted propaganda programmes, were installed on Litewski Square. During the attack on the Soviet Union, a large board was also set there in order to display the current directions of German strikes. The board disappeared mysteriously in 1942, and after the Nazis were defeated in Stalingrad, the German propaganda became less intrusive.

Battle for the city

In July 1944, the Soviet army, breaching the German defence, was approaching Lublin. The Nazi command assigned ca. 4300 soldiers to defend the city, mainly of 26. and 213. Wehrmacht divisions. These troops had about 270 guns, 14 tanks and an armoured train at their disposal. Given the great importance of Lublin for communication, German soldiers were ordered to fight until depletion of means of defence. Many buildings, including those on Krakowskie Przedmieście and around Litewski square, were turned into fortified strongholds. Numerous positions for antitank guns and snipers were arranged.

 

On 22 July 1944 the Home Army (Pol. Armia Krajowa, AK) began military actions. Its troops attacked the German columns which were retreating down the Warsaw route. Fighting broke out also on Wolności Square (Freedom Square) and on Lubartowska Street. Almost all of the plants carrying importance to the city, i.e. the sugar plant, the power plant, the gas plant and waterworks, were secured by the AK soldiers from being blown up by the occupant troops. On Krakowskie Przedmieście an AK unit commanded by "Orion" attacked the "Deutsches Haus" - grenade fight broke out. Shooting continued throughout the city late into the night. The citizens were describing it almost like an uprising. Germans had raised the alarm and put up stiff resistance.

 

Soviet armoured forces attacked Lublin on 23 July from the south and the north. 3rd corps of the 2nd Tank Army advanced from the area of Lubartowska street, while the 8th corps launched an attack in the area of Piłsudskiego street, with intention to cross Bystrzyca river. Nevertheless, the Russians had insufficient number of infantrymen and using tanks in urban combat would have caused heavy losses. On Lubartowska Street the Germans destroyed most of the Soviet tanks and the commander of the 2nd Tank Army, Semyon Bogdanov himself got seriously wounded. Some Russian forces, however, broke through to Łokietka square, and Krakowskie Przedmieście, where the whole group was destroyed by German "tank hunters" and antitank guns. During the fighting, the city hall building suffered severe damage. Similarly, the troops attacking from the south were held down before reaching bridges on Bystrzyca, suffering tremendous losses.


On the morning of 24 July the entire downtown was still in the hands of the occupant forces. Movements of Soviet tanks were hampered by accurate fire of German antitank batteries, and scant infantry forces were pinned down by snipers. At that point, AK units, that had been sneaking into the downtown supported by civilians, entered combat. These groups were destroying positions of German snipers and strongholds. After a Russian artillery barrage which was fired from the area of demolished Jewish ghetto, the Soviet panzer troops attacked again. This time, they managed to break through the German defence. The main axis of assault led down Krakowskie Przedmieście, which was where heavy fighting also took place. Numerous buildings in that area were destroyed or damaged. Soviet and AK troops had the whole city under control by midnight.

 

In the poem titled Czterdziesty czwarty ('44) Leon Pasternak describes the entrance of Polish troops onto Litewski square as follows:
 

- Union Square -

History likes symbols and myths

Berling and Zawadzki came in a Willys

Bunch of onlookers, startled passers-by

Swelled to a rally. Our regiments were marching in (...)

People wept, touched us, disbelieving

Scoffed, cocked their weapons

We asked, listening intently

We were silent,

Ashamed without guilt

In the People's Republic of Poland

Krakowskie Przedmieście and Litewski square now became a place of displaying the power of "the peoples of the socialist bloc." The KRN authorities that had chosen the edifice at no. 62, Krakowskie Przedmieście for their seat were convoking first mass meetings there, in order to inform about the PKWN (Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego - Polish Committee of National Liberation). In the following months celebrations of national holidays, military parades and "spontaneous" demonstrations of support for the new authorities were taking place on Litewski square.

 

On 27 August, the monument "to the brotherhood of Slavic nations" was unveiled on Litewski Square.That event was accompanied by enormous ceremony, including a parade of Polish and Soviet troops. On 6 January 1946, another monument was erected in place of that one, this time to the Gratitude (popularly known as "sołdat", from Russian name for a soldier). It stood on Litewski square for almost 45 years.

 

When the PKWN administration took over, many parts of Krakowskie Przedmieście were still in ruins and numerous buildings were damaged. Sluggish reconstruction commenced, conducted in makeshift, incongruous manner. It encompassed only small architectural complexes. Reconstruction and cleaning up of Krakowskie Przedmieście and Łokietka Square was completed only in 1954, ten years after the end of hostilities in the city. The row of destroyed buildings between the post office and the buildings of the Capuchin monastery was dismantled, as were the ruins of "Victoria" hotel. In the place were in 1939 Józef Czechowicz had been killed, a small square was arranged. On 9 September 1969, a monument to the poet was unveiled there. A square was also created on the site of the former "Victoria" hotel, with the National Department Store (today "Galeria Centrum") built next to it. Among new buildings were also: the edifice of PKO bank, shops: "Minimax" (later "Smyk"), "Gracja" and "Astoria". Building of Lubelskie Przedsiębiorstwo Krawiecko-Kuśnierskiego Przemysłu Terenowego (Lublin Local Sartorial and Furrier Industry Company) was constructed on an empty square next to the District Court


1961 saw major repairs of the pavement on Krakowskie Przedmieście, during which the existing surface was replaced with asphalt.The pavements were made of concrete slabs, with inaesthetic railings separating them from the street in several places. Krakowskie Przedmieście was adapted for trolleybuses which had entered service in Lublin in 1953. It was achieved by rearranging Łokietka square, converting it into a roundabout and removing all the greenery. It is worth noting that trolleybuses are still in use today, which is a rarity in Polish cities.


Few traces of "the most elegant street of the city" remained on Krakowskie Przedmieście. Shabby milk bars replaced the elegant restaurants, hotels were deteriorating and apartment houses, rarely repaired, were losing their aesthetics. Despite this, Krakowskie Przedmieście remained a place frequently chosen for walks by the local inhabitants. It was a place where "it behoved" to show up. Infrequent repairs of antique houses led to their progressive devastation. In 1978 demolition of two buildings on the corner of Krakowskie Przedmieście and Kołłątaja street commenced. Seriously damaged foundations of these buildings could have possibly caused them to collapse. Interesting fact is that during the demolition of one of the attics, lots of grenades and ammunition were discovered. Three rifles from 1918 were also found. An empty square was left on the site of those buildings. Today a McDonald's restaurant is located there.

 

Since there was still plenty of shops on Krakowskie Przedmieście, enormous queues in front of them - typical for the communist era - were a frequent sight. They were especially big when meat and toilet paper supplies arrived. Amazingly long queues lined up also for "Wielka Encyklopedia Powszechna" ("The Great Universal Encyclopedia") published in 1961.


Under the communist rule, Litewski Square was the venue of any celebration, especially on 1 May and 22 July. A platform, which sat the Communist party officials, was erected in front of the post office. The "worker and peasant masses praising the socialist system" marched down Krakowskie Przedmieście. Such parades came to an end only in 1989.

 

The monument to the Unknown Soldier on Litewski square was remodelled. The old marble slabs bearing names of battles fought by Polish soldiers were left, yet several new were added, mentioning the battles fought by the 1st Polish Army (Pol.: 1. Armia Wojska Polskiego).

The test of strength

After the events of Lubelski Lipiec (the Lublin July) and those of August 1980, Communist authorities were losing control over the situation in the city. On the initiative of Stronnictwo Demokratyczne (Democratic Party), the restored monument to the passage of the Constitution of 3 May 1791 was unveiled on Litewski Square. Numerous companies, including MPK (Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne - Municipal Transport Company), went on strike with intention of forcing the Communist authorities to improve the social conditions. Some companies boycotted the ceremony on 1 May, which had not happened since 1944. Active protests were also taking place - on 13 June 1981 unknown offenders poured oil-based paint onto the inscription on the Gratitude monument.

 

On 13 December 1981 the Communist authorities introduced martial law. Tanks and armoured personnel carriers appeared on the streets, the city was controlled by patrols of ZOMO (Zmotoryzowane Odwody Milicji Obywatelskiej - Motorized Reserves of the Citizens' Militia). Lots of people were arrested and detained.

 

Nonetheless, the "Solidarity" movement would not give in to the terror easily. 3 May 1982 saw several attempts to organize a demonstration under the Constitution monument.However, law enforcement forces dispersed the crowd consisting mostly of school and university students. Because of the demonstration, Chairman of the Voivodeship Defence Committee, Tadeusz Wilk once again introduced curfew between 22 and 5 in the morning, ordered off the city's telephone lines, banned the use of private cars, suspended operation of cinemas and theaters, and canceled all cultural and sports events. All passes issued to the detained were revoked. Classes in Jan Zamoyski 2nd High School were also suspended, as its students had participated in the demonstration on 3 May. Persecutions, however, were completely unsuccessful. In the evening of the following day another anti-government manifestation took place on Litewski square. Once again law enforcement forces stepped in, arresting circa 200 people. But martial law could not stop the disintegration of the socialist system.

 

In 1987, during his third pilgrimage to Poland, Pope John Paul II visited Lublin. On 9 June, he visited the extermination camp in Majdanek and later was driven to the cathedral and then to the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL). On his way down Krakowskie Przedmieście and Racławickie Avenue, he was enthusiastically greeted by dozens of thousands of citizens. At the Catholic University of Lublin, where he had been teaching many years earlier, he met with the academic community, and then blessed the cornerstone of the new college.

The time of changes

In 1989, after the Round Table Agreement and free elections, changes in Lublin ensued almost immediately.They were also visible on Krakowskie Przedmieście and Litewski Square. On 6 September 1990 the City Council decided to remove the Gratitude monument, and on 17 September the victims of Soviet aggression on Poland were commemorated for the first time.

 

Ownership of buildings on Krakowskie Przedmieście was transferred to private businesses and appearance of the street itself was gradually improving. Many buildings underwent restoration, some of them were also illuminated. Pre-war national symbols were returning - a crowned eagle, removed by the Nazis, was again placed on top of the post office building. It is interesting that during repairs of the PKO BP bank building in 1994, a WWII artillery shell was found stuck in the ceiling and still posing a threat of explosion.

 

In 1996, the City Council, after almost two months of expert surveys, decided to convert the so-called "narrow Krakowskie Przedmieście" between Kapucyńska Street and Łokietka Square into a pedestrian zone. The road was replaced with an elegant pavement. The official opening of the promenade was held on 8 October 1997. This part of Krakowskie Przedmieście quickly grew abundant with cafes, such as Chmielewski's cafe, which was reactivated in the same building in which it had once functioned.

 

On 10 November 2001 the monument to Józef Piłsudski was unveiled on Litewski square, on the site of the former Gratitude monument. Due to legal problems (lack of consent of the monuments conservator, among others), for some time the monument stood "on foil" and was to be treated as a temporary, demountable structure. After several years of obtaining further permits it was finally legalized. Nowadays, celebrations of national holidays take place near the monument.
On 30 April 2004, on the eve of Poland's accession to the European Union, ceremonial opening of the Gate of Two Unions was held on the promenade. It was to symbolize the way from the Union of Lublin to the European Union. In the middle of the steel and nylon construction, there was the Bell of Europe. The gate was dismantled afterwards and the commemorative plaque was left in its place. The bell was moved to the Dominican basilica.

 

 

 

 

Compiled by Ziemowit Karłowicz

Edited by Monika Śliwińska

Translated by Jarosław Kobyłko

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