Augmented reality app brings Lublin’s long-lost treasures back to life
An app that uses Augmented Reality technology to familiarize tourists and residents with two forgotten landmarks has been introduced in Lublin.
Designed by the locally-based Orizon Group, the stunning 3D renderings have already won widespread praise, not least from the city’s Mayor, Krzysztof Żuk who said: “The new app doesn’t just offer practical information, but also a different perspective of the city.
“Discovering places that no longer exist intrigues people and also often leads them to delve deeper into the history of this city.”
He added: “Lublin has many stories to tell, and modern solutions have helped not just to convey these, but also visualize them.
“Augmented Reality technology allows us to return these lost objects back to life and I feel this is another major step in implementing unique solutions when it comes to promoting tourism in Lublin.”
Introduced to the Visit Lublin app this summer, the recently refreshed version presents a pair of detailed reconstructions of two iconic buildings: the parish church of St. Michael the Archangel and a water tower that once stood on what is now known as Pl. Wolności.
Designed by Adolf Weisblatt, the water tower officially entered service on July 1st, 1899, following two years of work. Positioned just off the main high street, Krakowskie Przedmieście, for many it offered a beacon of hope in the city’s fight against cholera.
With the crowded Old Town just steps away, it also gave firefighters a convenient source of water for tackling blazes in the city’s historic centre, an area traditionally prone to sweeping domestic fires.
Yet beyond these practical uses, the tower impressed on account of its visual aesthetics. Built in Neo Gothic style, and adorned with ornamental battlements, it instantly became one of the tallest buildings in the city alongside the nearby Brama Krakowska and Trinitarian Tower.
Built from bricks brought from Volhynia, it was capable of holding 150 cubic metres of water; yet despite its early importance, advances in engineering soon saw it lose its value – particularly when a far larger facility opened on Racławickie street in 1929.
Heavily damaged in 1944 when the Red Army rolled into Lublin, the case for its post-war repair and reconstruction fell on deaf ears and by 1946 its ruins were dismantled.
Today remembered via a miniaturised bronze replica standing in its place, the Visit Lublin app has again revived misty memories of the epic landmark that fleetingly dominated the skyline of the city.
Equally impressive, however, has been the digital reconstruction of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. Once considered the most important Catholic house of worship in the city, it was most likely founded in either the 13th or 14th century.
Set just off the Old Town’s principal artery, Grodzka, it was reputedly established after Leszek the Black fell asleep under an oak tree – in his dream, the Archangel Michael handed him a sword, an act that the nobleman interpreted as a sign from God to continue his battle against a group of Baltic pagans known as the Yotvingians.
Defeating them in battle, the grateful Leszek returned to Lublin and ordered a church to be built on the spot that he fell asleep – according to legend, the oak was felled and the altar built in its place.
Expanded and modified several times thereafter, the church was beset with calamities not unusual for the time – burned down on at least three separate occasions, by the 19th century the church was plagued by financial woes despite a short six-year stint as a cathedral.
Closed in 1832 due to its ruinous condition, a desperate lack of funds saw the painful decision taken to demolish it entirely. With the structure at risk of collapsing in on itself, demolition crews began work in 1846 and would take nine years in all to execute their task – according to rumours, when the altar was removed, the roots of an oak tree were discovered.
Blasted with dynamite in some parts, the rubble was used to pave roads and the plot given over to act as a public square. With the limestone foundations exposed to the public in 2002, today they have become an integral part of Lublin’s Old Town experience.
Yet with only a scale model to show visitors how this area once looked, only now with the development of this app can people finally fully appreciate Lublin’s lost treasures.