Duration: 2-3 hours
This trail was established to commemorate one of the greatest accomplishments of the Jagiellonian dynasty, i.e. the conclusion of the Polish-Lithuanian Union in Lublin in 1569.
Historic events such as the Union of Krewo of 1385, during which it was decided that Władysław Jagiełło would marry Jadwiga, the promise of the Christianisation of Lithuania and the appointment of Jagiełło to the Polish throne – arranged in Lublin, and the Union of Horodlo, which strengthened the relationship between Poland and Lithuania, led to the work of the first king from the Jagiellonian dynasty to be finally concluded by the last remaining member of the family - Sigismund Augustus.
On 1 July 1569, the Union was signed and sworn at the royal castle in Lublin. It joined the Polish Kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania into one state – the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – ruled by one monarch.
From that time the foreign policy and currency were shared, while the administration, treasury, military and judiciary were separate. The Commonwealth stretched over an area of over 800,000 square km and remained like this until the Partitions.
On the day before the Polish accession into the European Union on 30 April 2004 great celebrations took place at the Lithuanian Square (Plac Litewski), with the participation of the residents of Lublin and numerous invited guests, such as vice-chancellors of universities from all over Europe who were debating in Lublin at that time. A colourful procession set off from here, partially following the Jagiellonian Route of the Union of Lublin, amongst others, through the Gate of Two Unions, and then through the Old Town towards the Castle of Lublin. A celebratory toast was made here for the prosperity of Poland and the European Union.
The Chapel of the Holy Trinity at the Castle of Lublin is the most valuable antique building of the Jagiellonian era. The Gothic church was erected by the last member of the Piast dynasty - King Casimir the Great - in the mid-14th century. In 1418, the inside of the chapel was decorated with polychromes financed by Władysław Jagiełło. The frescos were based on the Byzantine canon created for the Orthodox Church. In this way the chapel became a special monument to Jagiełło and the religious and cultural union of two great Christian traditions, whose roots originate from the western- and eastern-European civilisations.
Under the central vault of the presbytery is the coat of arms of the Jagiellonian family and a kneeling King Władysław Jagiełło is depicted on the exterior claddings of the staircase leading to the gallery; while an image of the King on horse can be seen on the interior wall of the chancel arch in the passage between the nave and the presbytery. During the union parliamentary sessions in 1569, a holy mass was held at the chapel, asking for successful deliberations. In one spot, on the wall, the writing has been preserved: Pio(tr) Jeżewski (1569) unia facta est cum ducatus Lytuanie, probably immortalised by a witness of the swearing-in ceremony of the Union of Lublin.
In order to gain access to the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, as well as to other buildings of the Museum of Lublin located in the castle complex, a ticket needs to be purchased from the Museum’s ticket office.
The Castle of Lublin, built in the 14th century, was one of the greatest royal residences in Poland. During the parliamentary sessions of 1569, King Sigismund Augustus met with delegates at the Castle. Key political decisions were made in its chambers, which resulted in the signing and sealing of the Union Act and swearing-in of the Union.
The Gallery of Polish and Foreign Paintings showcases the painting of Jan Matejko entitled ‘The Union of Lublin’ in the prime spot. The canvass is 512 cm long and 289 cm high. The artist immortalised the point in time of the Union Act being sworn in by King Sigismund Augustus and a group of secular and clerical dignitaries, both Polish and Lithuanian. The painting also shows the Castle Chapel in Lublin. The fresco depicts the praying founder and clergymen, both Polish and Lithuanian.
The painting also shows Albert II Hohenzollern, who paid liege homage to the Polish King in Lublin. Jan Matejko’s creation delights with the colourfulness and excellent depiction of the characters. It also inspires reflection over this important event which was a great step towards the future unification of Europe.
The Old Parish Church is located at Wzgórze Staromiejskie within the old city walls. Its name refers to the oldest parish church of St Michael, situated here between the 13th century and the second half of the 19th century, when it was demolished. Its soaring silhouette, together with the belfry, dominated the Lublin landscape.
Because the city parish - the non-existent parish church of St Michael - was located closest to the royal residence, it was here that special intention masses were held in 1569 to celebrate the Union, with the participation of delegates and Lublin residents according to the lithography of A. Lerue (from the collection of the Museum of Lublin).
The Old Parish Square offers a really beautiful view of Podwale, Podzamcze, Zamkowe Wzgórze, Wzgórze Czwartek, Wzgórze Grodzisko and the valley of the river Bystrzyca. Today, we can see the partly restored foundations of the Church of St Michael, which give us an indication of the size, shape and layout of the structure.
The Church of the Dominican Friars of St Stanislaus the Bishop and Martyr was erected in the 14th century within the city walls. It used to hold the priceless relic of the Holy Cross which came here from Kiev. In the Union days the church’s interior was originally in the Gothic style. A dangerous fire that damaged part of the city in 1575 also destroyed the church. In was restored in the Renaissance style. The monastery’s refectory holds the crucifix which, according to the legend, was used to swear in the Union at the Castle of Lublin.
After the ceremony, Sigismund Augustus proceeded on his horse – according to the chronicler – from the castle to the church to sing the thanksgiving mass Te Deum Laudamus with others. One of the side chapels contains two Renaissance gravestones of Firlejs: Mikołaj, a Kraków castellan, and his son Piotr from Dąbrowica, a Russian Governor. The son of Piotr, Jan, one of the gravestone’s funders, participated in the diplomatic talks with the Lithuanians which led to the conclusion of the Union; he was depicted by Matejko in his painting among the signatories of the Act of 1569.
The Lubomelski Tenement House (Rynek 8) is one of the largest in the Old Town. A section of the Renaissance portal shows the coat of arms of the house’s owners, placed there during its conversion in 1540. In 1996, polychromes were found inside which show the oldest Lublin landscape from the Jagiellonian era.
Renaissance paintings depicting secular themes have been preserved in the old wine cellar, praising the ‘life of pleasure’, decorated with fitting Latin sentences.
The Post-Bernardine Church of the Conversion of St Paul was built at the end of the 15th century outside the old city curtain walls, while the adjacent monastery was constructed in stages in the 15th and 16th century. The church and monastery complex burnt down in 1557 but it was rebuilt until 1569. The works were concluded at the time of the thanksgiving mass held after signing the Union. The participants in the union parliamentary session were most probably staying at the monastery.
The Post-Bridgettine Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Victorious and the convent of St Bridget of Sweden were financed by Władysław Jagiełło as a thanksgiving offering for the victory outside Grunwald over the Teutonic Order. The paintings preserved in the church’s attic (awaiting restoration) show the allegorical entry of knights commanded by King Casimir Jagiellon into Lublin.
During the reign of the monarch, in 1474, Lublin became the capital of the newly established Lublin voivodship (province) and still remains its capital today. A monument to the greatest Polish poet of the Renaissance era, Jan Kochanowski, stands on the square adjacent to the church and monastery. As a careful observer of the events of 1569, he wrote poems about the Union. The poet was also a witness to the homage paid to the Polish King by Duke Albert II Frederick Hohenzollern, which took place on 19 July 1569 in the city of Lublin.
The Monument to the Union of Lublin at the Lithuanian Square in the Old Town is the last stop at the Jagiellonian Route of the Union of Lublin. The name of the square is derived from the camp of the Lithuanian Nobility during the union parliamentary sessions.
The original monument from the 16th century was damaged by the Tsarist authorities which established the Drill Square here. Upon the initiative of Stanisław Staszic, in 1826 a new monument was unveiled in the shape of an iron obelisk which is still standing today. It was cast in foundries in Kielce owned by the Old Polish Industrial Region, whose creation and development was initiated by Staszic.
A gilt bas-relief is located above the base of the obelisk which depicts two female characters holding out their hands to each other. Between them are two coats of arms: the Polish – the White Eagle, and the Lithuanian – the Pahonia. Paweł Maliński was the creator of the bas-relief. The monument to the Polish-Lithuanian Union has lasted for over 175 years and still brings back this great chapter of Polish and European history. It is a symbol of the event which, in an ever more united Europe, emphasises the position of Lublin as the city of Union, a multicultural city.