I was getting ready for work when the phone rang.
‘Would you like to sign up for the Constitution’s trail tour? There’re still a few places left.’
I had no time to give it much thought, as I was leaving, so I passed the phone to my mum – perhaps she’d be interested. A quick registration on Sezon Lublin 2016 (partnered with: OM PTTK) and mum was on the list.
All TV stations in unison forecast rain for the long weekend in Lublin, though the temperatures were supposed to reach 19’C. In fact, the rain came on Saturday only. Tuesday, 3rd of May, started with the sun, which bravely held on in the cloudy sky till noon. Perfect weather to go on a trip. I decided to join my mum and the trail tour group.
225 years ago, 3rd May 1791 in Poland a constitution was declared – the second one in the world (after the USA), and the first one in Europe.
The Lithuanian Square around 2 p.m. seemed a bit deserted, as everyone’s eyes were turned in the opposite direction.
From the Cracow Gate , with the the accompaniment of the polonaise, there was a graceful string of dancers in folk costumes heading towards the Lithuanian Square, with the leading dancer Mr Krzysztof Żuk – Mayor of the City of Lublin:
We looked for the PTTK Lublin guides near the meeting spot. There were two of them. I had to jot down my name at the bottom of the list to join in (places limited; names required for statistical purposes only). Quite a big crowd gathered and the guides asked us to split into two groups. Mr. Mariusz B. (one of the guides) seemed very likable, hence it was not a hard choice which group to join.
History have never been my cup of tea. True, I find some countries or historical periods more interested than others, but remembering names or dates has never been my strongest suit. And here I take my hat off to Mr. Mariusz, a man with a passion and phenomenal memory. Dates, surnames (with first names!) and place names he produced by the dozen. For 3 hours (estimated time for the trail was 2!) he had been talking not only about the Constitution, but also about the way of life in Lublin from that period.
Mr. Mariusz knew the history of every stone (literally!), tenement, house and every clan in Lublin, and we listened with bated breath. The range of this man’s knowledge was huge: from the unlucky stone in the Old Town, through nobles and hussars, to King Stanisław August Poniatowski and Catherine the Great, Hieronim Łopaciński (who died in Podwale Street in Lublin). And just to add: the huge fire of Lublin in 1575, Boni Ordinis Commission, protestants and Jews in Poland, and the General Józef Zajączek Entering Lublin painting from the 19th c.
The final destination of the tour was the Lublin Castle, but before that, in the Old Town we looked at a reprint of Jan Matejko’s painting of the Constitution of May 3rd:
I, a Lublin girl, though still partly a cosmopolitan, who could surely listen to Mr. Mariusz for another 3 hours (despite the tiredness and uncomfortable shoes), returned home with a kind of patriotic energy, if not pride, and a big happy grin on my face.