Existence of a medieval gród (a wooden fortified settlement typical for Slavonic nations) named Lublin at the turn of the 12th century was proved, among others, by the discovery of remnants of the city’s former fortifications. It is not known precisely, since when had the wooden settlement been existing. It might have developed around a wooden watchtower, constructed on nowadays’ castle hill - as tradition has it - already in the times of Bolesław I Chrobry’s reign. It is possible that a brick church was located within the 12th-century settlement.
The castle hill.
Castle - the seat of the king and the castellan.
In the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century - a prison.
Since 1954 - home of the Lublin Province Museum.
Circa mid-13th century, a cylindrical Romanesque tower, also referred to as a donjon, was constructed on the castle hill, within a ring of fortifications. In the 14th century king Casimir III the Great recognized the importance of this place for the country and ordered the settlement to be fortified and remodeled. Gothic buildings were erected on the hill at that time, concentrated on a rectangular area. A gate with a residential building attached to it completed the fortified walls.
The Romanesque tower was located in the centre of the premises, whereas the brick castle chapel of The Holy Trinity stood in the northeastern corner of the hilltop. At that time the chapel was a one storey building. Coping of the presbytery was in form of a battlement. The castle housed the administration of the settlement, that, at that point, was incorporated into a chain of fortresses constructed in the Lesser Poland region. At the turn of the 15th century, during the reigns of Władysław Jagiełło and then his sons, the castle chapel was remodeled and its interior received a polychrome in Byzantine-Ruthenian style.
Throughout 15th and 16th centuries the castle was gaining importance, since Lublin constituted a trade and communication centre of countrywide significance. Kings and dignitaries were staying here. The city also hosted congresses and local assemblies of noblemen of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania. Therefore, already in 1520, the expansion of the castle in the Renaissance style commenced, so that it could serve as, among others, king’s temporary residence. With support of Lublin starosts (county-level royal officials) - Stanisław Tęczyński and Jan Tęczyński - second storey of the castle was constructed (intended exclusively as an accommodation for the king and his court), alongside with a gate, a fortified tower at the southern flank, and the “starost’s apartment house”. All of those buildings were coped with an attic, typical for the Renaissance style. The designer of this extension remains unknown, yet Italian architect Bartolommeo Berrecci is known to have come to Lublin in 1530 and part of the design may be credited to him.
Preserved accounts point out the sumptuous decoration of building’s interior. It is necessary to mention, that by the standards of its times, the castle boasted a modern equipment, as latrines and sanitation devices. It also had waterworks, maintained by the local rurmistrz (an official responsible for supervising the waterworks in a city). Remains of the well from which water had been being drawn into the waterworks were discovered in 1973. The castle, in its then shape, was the first Renaissance building in the Lublin region.
The Holy Trinity chapel, vicars’ house, „grodzka” apartment house and the tower, which served as a prison, completed the layout of the premises. The Gothic chapel was decorated with several renaissance details, including a portal influenced by the architectural style of northern Italy. The tower was decorated with a Renaissance attic. The “grodzka” house, located in the northern part of the premises, was connected with the castle by a catwalk, which could be used by the starost to get into the royal apartments. All buildings were surrounded by a wall with battlement. In the 17th century the castle began to gradually fall into decay. In 1635 king Władysław IV ordered the starost of Lublin to renovate the premises. The castle served as a military base, used by troops which fought the Cossacks and the Swedes, and as a temporary royal residence, until as late as 1649-1651. Between 1655 and 1657 the castle was almost completely destroyed. The castle chapel, the vicars’ house and the tower were the only surviving parts of the complex. Only in the 18th century Jakub Zamoyski and Wincenty Potocki attempted to save the ruins. It was probably then that the tower was lowered, by removing the destroyed attic and upper segments of the walls. Moreover, it was soon again used as prison. After the third partition of Poland, the premises on the castle hill, left without any attention, went into rack and ruin.
The 19th century, especially in its early phase, saw revival of Lublin. The government of the Congress Kingdom of Poland decided to build a prison where the castle had been located. In 1819, the general builder of the Kingdom of Poland, Aleksander Groffe, had been appointed to create the design, which was accepted the following year by viceroy Zajączek. The edifice was partially erected between 1823 and 1826 in the Neo-Gothic style, with addition of Neo-classicist features. Jan Stompf, engineer from the Directorate of Roads and Bridges (Pol. Dyrekcja Dróg i Mostów), was the architect and construction works were supervised by Jakup Hempel, the voivodship main builder.
The southern flank was the first to be constructed, incorporating the tower into its middle section and connecting the whole complex with the castle chapel. Western and southern flanks were additionally decorated with an attic with battlement, resembling that of the former Renaissance castle, which gave the edifice stronghold-like character. This castle-like prison became the first penitentiary building in Poland constructed in form of a medieval stronghold. The northern flank was the last one to be built, completing the rectangular body of the castle.
Few years after the construction works had been finished, annexes were constructed along the eastern and the northern edge of the courtyard, also to be used for penitentiary purposes. Slopes of the hill were reshaped and a viaduct was also constructed at that time.
In the 19th century the building was plastered, along with the tower and the chapel with its precious polychromes. Moreover, attempts were made to restore the original appearance of the tower: the plaster was modeled into a rustic pattern and the cone-shaped spire was replaced with a castellated roof in the Neo-Gothic style. At that time, a law court, a hospital, workshops and a laundry functioned in the castle, apart from the prison. Leaders of the January Uprising, revolutionary activists of the 1904-1907 period and leading figures of the interwar communist movement were kept in confinement in the cells inside the castle and the tower throughout the 130-year period of prison’s existence.
During the German occupation the Lublin castle was, after Majdanek, the second biggest centre of persecution and terror in the Lublin region. After the war, an NKVD and UB (Pol. Urząd Bezpieczeństwa - Security Bureau) prison was located there. In 1954 the authorities decided that the castle would be used for cultural purposes. After the interior had been adapted (according to the design by eng. Jerzy Gajewski), the Regional Museum moved into the southern flank and Voivodship Community Centre - into the northern one. Later the entire building was taken over by the Lublin Museum. This coincided with restoration works, chiefly in the Holy Trinity chapel. Subsequent repairs and restorations took place in 1970s and 1980s. The last comprehensive repair works were concluded in 2008.
mid-13th century - construction of the Romanesque keep within the ring of fortified walls on the castle hill
14th century - construction of the Gothic castle and the chapel
14th/15th century - remodeling of the castle, decoration of the chapel with eastern style polychromes
ca. 1530 - remodeling of the castle in the Renaissance style
1635 - king Władysław IV orders the edifice to be restored
1655-1657 - destruction of the castle during the “Swedish Deluge”
1795 - the castle falls into ruin
1823-1826 - a prison, designed by Jan Stompf, is constructed on the site of the former castle
1 897 - conservational works which led to the discovery of the Byzantine-Ruthenian polychromes in the castle chapel
2nd half of the 19th century - until 1954 - the castle serves as a prison
19 54 - the edifice is donated for cultural purposes
1957 - opening of the museum
1970s, 1980s - conservational works
2008 - conclusion of thorough repairs of the building
Bartolommeo Berrecci (?)
Neo-Renaissance elements at the courtyard
Description of the building
The castle was laid out on rectangular plan with an inner courtyard. The facade contains elements typical for the Neo-Gothic style: windows topped with pointed arches and crenellations.
The main segment of the edifice consists of two cubical structures that form the front and the side part of the castle. The three-part facade of the main segment is composed of a centre section with a prominent avant-corps and two side segments, identical to each other. Five-axis side segments are partitioned by window niches and each topped with an attic. The middle part is a notable avant-corps, flanked by polyhedral turrets with long, narrow trifoliate blind windows and crenellation. A metal axe is mounted on top of each turret. The avant-corps contains the entrance gate, two window niches and an attic. The southern flank of the castle is attached to the Holy Trinity Chapel and to the tower. The elevation of this part is divided with an avant-corps. Eight windows are located on each side of the avant-corps. The embellishment is similar to that of the facade. The surface of the side elevations bears rustication as an additional ornamentation.
Compiled by Anna Szlązak
Additional information by Joanna Zętar
Edited by Monika Śliwińska
Translated by Jarosław Kobyłko
Buczkowa I., Dzieje Zamku Lubelskiego, Lublin 1965.