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Hrubieszow. The legends turned out to be true. There is a system of tunnels under the city

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These stories are told from generation to generation. About the fact that soldiers appeared in the city out of nowhere. Or that you can turn around by car underground. The fact is that near Hrubieszów (Lubelskie Voivodeship) there is a system of tunnels, the history of which can go back as far as the 15th century and which reminds of itself from time to time. Just like last time – when a fragment of the road collapsed in the city center. The local government wants to return to the idea from a few years ago, which assumed making a part of the underground available to tourists. He’s looking for money.

“Undergrounds are timidly reminding themselves of themselves again…” – wrote Łukasz Krawczyk, vice-president of the “Underground Hrubieszów” Association on his Facebook profile “Stary Hrubieszów – Old Hrubieszow”. It happened after a fragment of asphalt collapsed on Narutowicza Street in the city center in May. The hole was two and a half meters deep. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

There is a system of tunnels under the city Lukasz Krawczyk

People tell about it from generation to generation

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– Such situations happen in Hrubieszów from time to time. Underneath the city center, ie the old town hill – which is an island and to which bridges on the Huczwa River lead – there is a system of tunnels. People tell stories about them from generation to generation. Although some treat it only as a legend, the existence of the Hrubieszów underground is a fact – says Krawczyk. He adds that while the first written sources that talk about tunnels come from the 19th century, their creation should be associated with a much earlier period.

They could have been built even in the 15th century Lukasz Krawczyk

– The first structures could have been erected at the beginning of the 15th century, after King Władysław Jagiełło granted Hrubieszów city rights in 1400 and after a wooden castle was built on the island (sources say that it was destroyed during the Khmelnytsky Uprising in 1648, today in in its place stands the Du Chateau manor house erected at the end of the 18th century – editor’s note). Usually, underground armories for storing weapons or icehouses for storing food were built next to the manor houses. However, it is difficult to say whether a whole system of tunnels was built under the city at that time. Another concept is more likely – that they were built a bit later so that the population could hide during the Tatar invasions that plagued the city in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries – says the regionalist.

Regionalist: they certainly existed already in the 18th century

He points out that in the first half of the 19th century, Henryk Golejewski, a memoirist, wrote about it, recalling his stay in the city, and said: “Passing through Hrubieszów for the first time, incidentally in the summer and in the weather, must be struck by the rumble under the vehicle and the horses’ hooves, the effect of cellars, with which the whole market is undermined from the times of Tatar raids. There are, or rather in the past there were, huge warehouses of wines, mostly Hungarian ones.”

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– For sure, tunnels already existed in the eighteenth century. When in 2016 – together with other members of the association – we entered the underground, we saw a brick with a very characteristic signature reminiscent of the letters “CH”. Exactly the same bricks were in the foundation pillars of the fences of the Dominican monastery, which were dug out a few years ago during the construction of the sports hall, and the monastery fences were built in the mid-18th century, our interlocutor points out.

Underground storehouses of Hungarian wines

However, when it comes to Hungarian wine warehouses, it indicates that years ago there was even a district in Hrubieszów called Vineyard.

The underground hides many secrets Lukasz Krawczyk

– And it was not that someone was involved in the cultivation of vines, but that there were wine warehouses here. As there were stalls on the Old Town Hill, there are also reports that not only wines were kept in the cellars, but also other goods that were traded in these stalls. This was confirmed when we were underground and noticed on the walls carved places for shelves and a trace of a wooden tabletop – recalls Krawczyk.

They surveyed the area with georadar

After the members of the association entered the underground more than seven years ago, an agreement was signed between the city authorities and the Science and Mining Traditions Foundation based at the Faculty of Mining and Geoengineering of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow. It was, among others for georadar surveys.

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– During the research, it turned out that there are many anomalies underground, i.e. tunnels, and some of them have even three floors, which is related to the fact that the Old Town Hill is quite a high hill, and to get out of the tunnels you have to go down to the foot of the island – our interlocutor points out.

Candles went out as they entered the tunnels

The research conducted in 2016 confirmed the information collected as early as 1985, when – using the geoelectrical and seismic method – the existence of complex structures with varying degrees of preservation was found underground.

Perhaps a small part of the underground city will be shown to visitors Lukasz Krawczyk

– It’s hard to say how long all the tunnels can be. We entered only a small fragment of one of the corridors. We went down the steep stairs to a room that was three meters wide and 2.5 meters high. Our findings show that it was only a preliminary chamber leading to even higher and wider tunnels – says the regionalist. He also mentions that when he was underground, he noticed that the tunnels had a ventilation system in the form of special chimneys. – Which would confirm the stories of older residents of Hrubieszów that when as children they entered these undergrounds – and in those days there were several unsecured points where they could do it – and lit their way with candles, these candles went out for them. After that, of course, everyone ran away, because they were afraid that there were ghosts in the dungeons. And this only showed that there must have been a breeze inside, i.e. ventilation was working – smiles Krawczyk.

They showed where the horse with the cart and the cabbage had sunk

He adds that there is also a well-known story from the 1970s that on a market day in the old market square a cart with cabbage and a horse that was pulling it collapsed.

In May, a fragment of asphalt collapsed in HrubieszówLukasz Krawczyk

– When I was teaching at the University of the Third Age, students even showed me the exact place where it happened. They said that the horse was pulled to the surface and fortunately nothing happened to him – the regionalist points out.

No one saw the soldiers enter the city, but they did

The story of the tsarist soldiers who suppressed the rebellion in Hrubieszów during the partitions of Poland is also passed down from generation to generation, appearing as if out of nowhere.

SEE ALSO: He noticed a crack in the cellar wall. It turned out that it leads to an underground city

– They could only enter the island through the only bridge, and no one saw them on the bridge. Hence the belief that they used the tunnels, which would also mean that these stretched not only on the island, but also beyond it. There are also stories that lead to different places. For example, to Horodło, located over 15 kilometers from Hrubieszów. So far, however, I have not found any evidence of this, he says.

It is said that a horse and cart can move underground

As we read in the entry by our interlocutor, which can be found on the website of the city office in Hrubieszów, stories about the tunnels to Horodło can also be found in the memories of Konstanty Marian Mścisław Stecki, a botanist born in Hrubieszów. He also wrote that: “An interesting fact is worth noting (…) which I remember perfectly; when, around 1893-95, the market square was laid with bricks for the first time, the steep slope towards the street leading to the bridge over Huczwa was smoothed out, leveling and lowering its eastern part. The entire market square and part of ul. Panska transverse to the magistrate. When, after some time, the rains and downpours began one morning, the astonished inhabitants of Hrubieszów saw in the middle of the market square, like in ancient Rome, a gaping abyss. The cobblestone collapsed, opening a rather deep chasm, attempts were made to descend into the resulting cavity, a brick corridor led towards the church, but the water at the bottom did not allow for further exploration into the underground. The pit was filled in and no one else was interested in it. Undoubtedly, it was some old dungeon.”

Some tunnels are up to three stories high Lukasz Krawczyk

– It’s also possible that there are some kind of streets underground. Some elderly people told me that they had been in such chambers where not only could a cart and a horse move, but also where a car could turn around. Of course, it seems natural to try to secure at least a small part of the tunnels and make them available to tourists, which our association established in 2012 is an ardent advocate. But, as in the 1980s, there is no money for it. However, when I spoke to the mayor recently, she told me that the city is still looking for funds, Krawczyk points out.

The city is looking for money. Nearly PLN 17 million is needed

The mayor of Hrubieszów, Marta Majewska, says that the city plans to create an educational path in part of one of the tunnels.

There is still much to discoverLukasz Krawczyk

– We have ready design documentation and even a building permit, which unfortunately expired last year. As the cost estimate amounts to nearly PLN 17 million, we cannot afford to cover it from the city budget. So we’re looking for funds. We hope that it may be possible to obtain funds under the new EU perspective – he points out.

An idea to attract tourists

He adds that the corridor in which the tourist path would be located is located near ul. 3rd of May.

– The tunnel would be entered from the building where exhibitions would be organized – also with the use of multimedia – about the history of Hrubieszów. Of course, the exhibitions could also be seen in the basement – emphasizes the mayor.

Main photo source: Lukasz Krawczyk



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