The Old Cemetery in Lublin
The Old Cemetery in Lublin is the oldest Jewish cemetery still existing in Poland and one of the most precious historical sites in Poland and in Europe. Its history dates back to the 16th century. The cemetery is a destination of sentimental and – primarily – religious pilgrimage for the Polish and world Jewry.
Lublin was an important center of Jewish studies and religion. One of the first Hebrew Printing Houses was established in the city, as well as a Yeshiva, famous in the Jewish Europe, and the Sejm of the Four Lands – a central organization of the Jewish self-government in the 1st Polish Republic – was held here.
The beginnings of the so called Old Jewish Cemetery, located on Grodzisko Hill, are hard to determine. Until the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries a fortified castle was located on the hill and surrounded by the pools of two rivers-hence its later name (Grodzisko means a fortified castle in Polish). Subsequently, a city surrounded with walls was built on Staromiejskie Hill.
Out of thousands, two hundred tombstones remain (damaged to various degrees): 12 from the 16th century, over 60 from the 17th century, over 80 from the 18th century and over 70 from the 19th century. They are located in two clusters in the northern and central parts of the cemetery; the rest of the grounds is completely empty. 300 years of changes in the shapes, ornamentation and lettering, as well as in the content and forms of inscriptions are represented by those macevot. The oldest preserved and still standing in its original place maceva in Poland is a part of a grave of Yaakov Kopelman ben Yehuda ha-Levi, who died in 1541. Tombstones of many Coryphees of the Lublin Jewish Community also survived, including those of Shalom Szachna ben Yosef (died in 1558), Shlomo ben Yechiel Luria – called Maharshal (died in 1573), Avraham ben Chaim Heilpern (died in 1762), and Yaakov Yitzhak ben Eliezer ha-Levi Horowitz (died in 1815).
In 2010 the Foundation for the Protection of Lublin Jewish Cemeteries was established by the Warsaw Jewish Community and awarded the ownership of the cemetery by the Union of the Religious Jewish Communities in Poland. During summer and autumn restoration works of the cemetery wall are being carried out, thanks to donations and a financial support from the Warsaw Jewish Community and Lublin Voyvodship’s Conservator. The Foundation is also responsible for cleaning of the cemetery.
Entrance fee: 10 PLN (payments and keys at the Reception of the Ilan Hotel – 85 Lubartowska Street).