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GoPoland!: Where to Go: Lublin: History

Round Tower of Lublin Castle A union town, one might say, of this large eastern Poland city that began as a trade route stop-over in the 6th century and grew into the industrial, yet scholarly metropolis that it is today. 3 centuries after its humble beginnings 14 centuries ago, Lublin marked the conversion of the Polish lands into the christianized Polish state in the 10th century by being the first to erect (so they say) a commemorative temple to St. Nicholas. Another 4 centuries passed before the fortified castle transformed itself into a town, but its real claim to fame came in 1569 when the Lublin Union ratified the already 200 year old bond between Poland and its neighbor Lithuania: that moment formalized the largest empire in mainland Europe. Lublin profited from its pivotal position, and continued to prosper -- excepting raids by the Cossacks from the east and Swedes from the north -- until the Partitions scattered the empire and carved up the Polish state.

Lublin's Old 
Town Poland landed back on the legal map of Europe at the end of WWI, and Lublin celebrated by founding the Catholic University, still going strong to this day. Lublin also fostered other religions, notably Judaism, which showed itself in the pre-WWII 40,000 strong Jewish population. Remnants of that population can be seen along the signs and walls of the Old Town, and more stirring reminders found in the Majdanek concentration camp 3 km out.

Additional infamous events occurred in the war period, critical to Poland's post-war future: in 1944, a group called the Lublin Committee gathered sufficient strength there to fan the flames of communism, and grew into the post-war party that took up the reins of power for the next 4 decades. But what goes around sometimes comes around: Lublin's second claim to union fame occurred in May 1980 with an organized workers strike. Said strike beat the Gdansk shipyard shenanigans by 4 months, leaving Lubliners free to boast of their town as once again the birthplace of a union.

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