I’ve been through Warsaw by train and dreamed of visiting the Christmas markets in Kracow but I think it will be difficult to beat my experience in a small out-of-the-way city in Poland called Llublin.
East of the Vistula River and with a population of around 350,000 Llublin has history, beautiful architecture and genuine Polish charm. I was there to attend a midsummer wedding and had my vodka glasses firmly on but it is always a treat to escape the tourists in Europe and find an unheralded gem.
Entering the Old Town through the remains of 14th century fortifications – the Cracow Gate – you are immediately drawn into a network of medieval streets and piazzas, with quiet lanes and buzzing cafes.
In Parish Church Square you will find the restored foundations of the 12th century church of St Nicholas:
Surrounding the market square there are dozens of baroque townhouses, with their colourful and highly decorated facades.
The Castle of Llublin is popular with domestic tourists with its tower and the castle chapel of the Holy Trinity founded by Poland’s Casimir the Great.
I stumbled upon these faded but still vibrant Russo-Byzantine frescoes in a nearby street:
The late 16th century cathedral of Llublin was a rather gorgeous setting for a wedding but also happens to be one of the oldest baroque churches beyond Italy.
I tried to see something of what before the Nazi Holocaust was an important Jewish centre of life and learning in Poland but the cemetery was locked so I just wandered the markets instead.
The people of Poland love Llublin and you will too!
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you had an off-the-beaten-path travel experience in Poland?