Poznan Introduction Walking Tour, Poznan

Poznan Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Poznan

Poznan, the capital of the Wielkopolska region of Poland, boasts a deep-rooted history reflected in a wealth of centuries-old landmarks. This city's allure, however, extends beyond its historical façade. While unassuming at first glance, Poznan has a lot going for it.

The name Poznan originates from the Polish word "poznac," which means "to get to know" or "to recognize." Legend has it that the city's name traces back to ancient times when the founders distinctively recognized their leader by observing the clothes he wore.

Often referred to as the "cradle of the Polish nation," Poznan has been a pivotal cultural and political center since before Poland's Christianization in 966 AD. In later centuries, Poznan endured wars, including Prussian rule, which began in 1793. Despite attempts at Germanization, Poles preserved their culture. The city continued to expand, with landmarks like the Raczynski Library and the first railway added in 1848.

During World War I, Poznań and the region returned to Poland. The German population declined significantly, and the city grew, gaining importance as the capital of Poznan Voivodeship.

World War II brought a devastating German occupation again, with forced labor, deportations, and the Holocaust. After liberation in 1945, Poznan saw the expulsion of the German population, leading to a predominantly Polish demographic.

The post-war years witnessed the Poznan 1956 protests, early resistance to communist rule, and urban development, including housing projects and river rerouting. In 1987, the city expanded northwards, and in 1990, it held its first free local elections.

One of Poznan's most iconic sites is the Old Market Square (Stary Rynek). At its center stands the magnificent Town Hall (Ratusz), a symbol of Poznan's municipal power and architectural grandeur.

Another beloved local attraction is the two mechanical Poznan Goats (Koziolki Poznanskie) that butt heads daily at noon, much to the delight of onlookers.

To satisfy your cultural cravings, visit the Croissant Museum (Rogalowe Muzeum), where you can learn about the history of Saint Martin's Croissant, a delicious Poznan treat known throughout the country.

As you stroll through the city's historic streets, you'll encounter the Parish Church of Saint Stanislaus (Poznan Fara), another architectural gem that has graced the cityscape for centuries.

A city whose significance persisted through periods of turmoil, wars, and foreign occupations, Poznan offers a diverse array of activities and sights to delight in. So, come explore this remarkable city, hear its captivating legends, and make your own memories in the heart of Poland!
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Poznan Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Poznan Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Poland » Poznan (See other walking tours in Poznan)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Stary Rynek (Old Market Square)
  • Ratusz (Town Hall)
  • Koziolki Poznanskie (Poznan Goats)
  • Rogalowe Muzeum (Croissant Museum)
  • Domki Budnicze (Merchants' Houses)
  • Poznan Fara (Parish Church of St. Stanislaus)
  • Royal Castle and Museum of Applied Arts
  • Zamek Cesarski (Imperial Castle)
  • Collegium Minus of Adam Mickiewicz University
  • Stary Browar (Old Brewery Shopping Center )
  • Polwiejska Street
Stary Rynek (Old Market Square)

1) Stary Rynek (Old Market Square) (must see)

Old Market Square has a storied history dating back to the 13th century when Poznań was granted its city charter. It quickly became the heart of the city and a center for trade and commerce. Over the centuries, the square witnessed numerous historical events and architectural transformations.

The square is surrounded by beautifully preserved townhouses, many of which display colorful facades, intricate architectural details, and ornate gables. Each building has a unique character, and some even have names and legends associated with them. These historic buildings represent various architectural styles, including Renaissance, Baroque, and Classicism. The most prominent building on the square is the Poznań Town Hall, an exquisite example of Gothic architecture.

In addition to the Town Hall, Old Market Square features several monuments and statues, including the Proserpina Fountain, the Apollo Fountain, and the famous Billy Goats, which butt heads daily at noon to the delight of onlookers.

Old Market Square serves as a central gathering place for various events, festivals, and cultural celebrations throughout the year. The square comes alive with music, food stalls, and cultural performances during these festivities. The Poznań Christmas Market, held during the holiday season, is especially popular and draws crowds from near and far.

The square is home to numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars where visitors can enjoy traditional Polish cuisine or international dishes while taking in the charming ambiance. It's a great place to relax and people-watch.
Ratusz (Town Hall)

2) Ratusz (Town Hall)

The Renaissance Town Hall holds a special place in the history of Poznań. It was completed around 1300, during the reign of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia. Initially referred to as Domus Consulum, it served as the seat of the city authorities and played a central role in the governance of the city.

The original building was constructed as a one-story Gothic structure, situated upon a raised quadrangle. Some remnants of this early Gothic construction still exist in the cellars of the building, bearing witness to its medieval origins.

The Renaissance transformation of Town Hall took place in the 16th century. Between 1550 and 1560, the building underwent extensive reconstruction in the mannerist style under the supervision of Giovanni Battista di Quadro. This renovation significantly altered the appearance of the town hall. One of the most distinctive features of the Renaissance Town Hall is its ornate loggia, which adds an air of elegance to the building's façade. This architectural element is adorned with intricate details and decorative elements that exemplify the Renaissance style. In the early 17th century, a tower was added to the northwestern corner of the town hall, further enhancing its architectural grandeur.

Among the notable interiors of Ratusz is the Great Hall, known as the Rebirth Hall. It is regarded as one of the most exquisite Renaissance interiors in Poland. The hall features two sandstone pillars that support a vault adorned with coffers, which are decorated with polychrome sculptures. These sculptures depict various motifs, including coats of arms, biblical and mythological scenes, exotic animals, and planets.

Today, the Renaissance Town Hall houses the Poznań History Museum. The museum is home to a diverse collection that narrates the history and heritage of Poznań, making it an essential destination for those interested in the city's past.

The Town Hall is also famous for its iconic daily tradition. At noon, on the town hall tower, two mechanical billy goats known as the Poznań Goats come to life. They engage in a playful clash, symbolizing the spirit and character of Poznań. This tradition is a beloved spectacle for both locals and visitors.
Koziolki Poznanskie (Poznan Goats)

3) Koziolki Poznanskie (Poznan Goats)

The Poznan Goats' mechanical butting display is a cherished daily tradition in the city. This delightful spectacle takes place at noon and is a must-see for both locals and tourists. The performance is preceded by the striking of the clock and the playing of a traditional bugle call known as "hejnał." It marks the beginning of the daily display and adds a cultural touch to the event. The hejnał is also played on a carillon installed in the tower between 7 am and 9 pm.

The legend behind the addition of the goats to the clock mechanism is both charming and whimsical. According to the legend, a cook once burned a roast deer while preparing a banquet for the voivode (a local dignitary) and other important guests. In a panic, the cook attempted to replace the burnt roast by stealing two goats from a nearby meadow. These goats escaped and found their way up the town hall tower, where they began to playfully butt each other. The townspeople were amused by the spectacle, and the voivode pardoned both the cook and the goats. In recognition of this entertaining incident, the voivode ordered two mechanical goats to be incorporated into the new clock being made for the building.

Another legend associated with the Poznan Goats is related to the hejnał. According to this legend, Bolko, the son of the tower's trumpeter, once nursed a wounded raven back to health. In gratitude, a gnome wearing a crown and purple cape appeared to Bolko, thanked him for his kindness, and gifted him a small gold trumpet. The gnome instructed Bolko to blow the trumpet when he was in danger. The gnome then transformed into a raven and flew away. Years later, when Bolko had taken over as the tower's trumpeter, an enemy army was scaling Poznan's walls. In a moment of peril, Bolko remembered the golden trumpet and played it. Dark clouds suddenly gathered on the horizon, revealing an enormous flock of ravens that swooped down upon the attacking army, forcing them to retreat. Although Bolko dropped the trumpet in astonishment, the call he played is still performed today as part of the hejnał tradition.
Rogalowe Muzeum (Croissant Museum)

4) Rogalowe Muzeum (Croissant Museum) (must see)

Unlike conventional museums, the Croissant Museum is not just about observing exhibits. It offers an interactive and hands-on experience that allows visitors to actively participate in the local tradition of croissant baking, which has a rich history of 150 years. At the heart of the museum's experience is the St. Martin's Croissant, a beloved Poznań treat. Visitors have the chance to learn about the croissant's history, its significance in the city's culture, and even how to make one themselves, following an original recipe.

The St. Martin's Croissant, a cherished tradition in Poznań, Poland, is a century-old culinary delight protected by law. It all began when a local baker, inspired by a sermon promoting charity at St. Martin's church in the late 19th century, created this unique pastry to share with the less fortunate. Shaped like a horseshoe, it quickly became a symbol of kindness.

What sets this croissant apart is its meticulous preparation, with 81 layers of dough, each filled with a delightful mixture of poppy seeds, nuts, raisins, almonds, sugar, and butter. Glazed and sprinkled with sugar and nuts, these croissants weigh between 150 and 250 grams, offering both taste and substance.

The Croissant Museum prides itself on providing an intimate and relaxed atmosphere during live shows. Visitors can expect humor, interaction with the museum's hosts, and an engaging experience that brings Poznań's culture to life. The museum was founded by Szymon Walter, who had a vision of preserving and celebrating Poznań's cultural heritage, particularly the tradition of croissant baking.
Domki Budnicze (Merchants' Houses)

5) Domki Budnicze (Merchants' Houses)

The history of Merchants' Houses dates back to the 13th century when the area was used for herring stalls that also sold various essential items like salt, candles, and torches. These stalls played a crucial role in the city's trading activities during that period. In the late 15th and 16th centuries, the wooden stalls were gradually replaced by narrow brick houses. These houses were characterized by their often single-window design, with commercial spaces on the ground floor and living quarters on the upper levels.

To shield the entrances to the stores from the elements and create a covered shopping area, protective arcades were added to the front of the houses. These arcades served as shelter for shoppers and displayed goods for sale. The arcades of Merchants' Houses are supported by small sandstone columns, with many of them being original to the structures. One of the columns, located at house number 11, bears the date 1535, showcasing their historical authenticity. Over time, some of these arcades were walled up, particularly during the 19th century. During the post-war reconstruction efforts in Poznań, the Merchants' Houses were meticulously restored to their original architectural form.

The southernmost house in the row, dating back to 1538, is known as the City Chancellery or the House of Scribes. In the past, it served as the residence of the city scribe until the 18th century. Today, it houses the Society of Friends of Poznań, contributing to its continued cultural significance.

The arcades of Merchants' Houses have become a vibrant hub for local Poznań artists. Here, artists sell their paintings, with many depicting scenes from the Old Market Square and other iconic landmarks. Visitors can explore and purchase artwork, adding an artistic dimension to the historical setting.
Poznan Fara (Parish Church of St. Stanislaus)

6) Poznan Fara (Parish Church of St. Stanislaus) (must see)

Poznań Fara, also known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mary Magdalene, and Saint Stanislaus was constructed by the Jesuits.

The interior of this church is a treasure trove of artistic riches. Sixteen grand columns, crafted from artificial marble, line the nave. Adorning the vault of the nave, you'll find three scenes from the life of Saint Stanisław Bishop, masterfully rendered by Karol Dankwart from Nysa in each bay.

The crowning glory of the main altar, designed by Pompeo Ferrari, is the painting "Resurrection of Piotrowin by Saint Stanislaus the Bishop," a masterpiece by Szymon Czechowicz. The side altars draw inspiration from the altars of the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome.

Inside, you'll also discover an array of baroque portraits, epitaphs, and altars dedicated to figures like St. Tadeusz Juda and St. Pius X. The church houses vast cellars and crypts where monks, benefactors, and even parishioners found their eternal rest.

The pièce de résistance, however, is the magnificent organ, a true gem of the temple's interior. Crafted in 1876 by the renowned organ builder Friedrich Ladegast from Weißenfels, it continues to enchant visitors with its melodious notes. Every Saturday, and during the summer season, from Monday to Saturday, the church hosts organ concerts featuring outstanding performers at 12:15. Following these captivating performances, visitors have the opportunity to explore the church's underground wonders, adding to the rich tapestry of Poznań Fara's history and culture.
Royal Castle and Museum of Applied Arts

7) Royal Castle and Museum of Applied Arts

Just a short stroll west of the bustling market square you'll discover the majestic Royal Castle, perched atop Przemysl Hill. This castle has a rich history dating back to the 13th century when it was initially commissioned by Przemysl I, a Duke of the Piast dynasty who designated Poznań as his capital.

Construction of the royal residence commenced around 1249 and was continued by Przemysl I's son. Over the years, subsequent rulers expanded and updated the castle in various architectural styles, making it a symbol of the city's pride and heritage.

However, the castle's fortune took a significant downturn in the early 18th century. It endured several sackings by the Swedes, Russians, and disgruntled nobles, leaving it in ruins. It was Governor General Kazimierz Raczyński who, in 1783, transformed the medieval remains into a state archive, a role it fulfilled until World War II. During the Siege of 1945, the castle was caught in the crossfire alongside the Nazi stronghold on Citadel Hill, leading to its near destruction.

In 1959, a decision was made to rebuild the castle, focusing on restoring Governor General Raczyński's contribution to the site. It was reborn as the Museum of Applied Arts, showcasing a diverse range of art exhibits. Today, it stands proudly overlooking the city once more. In addition to its collections of applied art, the museum features a historical exhibition on the castle and Przemysł II on the ground floor. Visitors can also ascend the 43-meter tower for breathtaking views of the Old Town, making a visit to the Royal Castle and Museum of Applied Arts an enriching experience that delves into Poznań's rich history and cultural heritage.
Zamek Cesarski (Imperial Castle)

8) Zamek Cesarski (Imperial Castle)

Constructed in 1910 during German rule, the Imperial Castle was commissioned by Emperor William II and designed by architect Franz Schwechten. This grand palace has served as a seat of government, first under German rule until 1918 and later under Polish authority from 1918 to 1939 and then from 1945 to the present.

Despite its name, the Imperial Castle is more of a palace than a traditional castle. The Polish name, "Zamek Cesarski," emphasizes its imperial association, while the German name, "Königliches Schloss," underscores its royal connection.

The main building of the Imperial Castle, situated in the southern part of the complex, comprises two wings. The larger western wing housed various apartments, including those for the Court Marshal, Chamberlain, and other members of the imperial court. On the first floor were the lavish apartments of the Emperor and Empress, connected by a corridor adorned with statues of historical rulers.

The most striking room in the representative eastern wing was the Throne Room, designed in a Byzantine style. This majestic space featured ample natural light streaming in from expansive windows, adorned with statues of Holy Roman Emperors. The room also boasted a distinctive oriental-style throne, positioned beneath the central arch.

The Imperial Castle is surrounded by a lush rose garden, which includes a beautiful fountain inspired by the Fountain of the Lions in the Court of the Lions at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
Collegium Minus of Adam Mickiewicz University

9) Collegium Minus of Adam Mickiewicz University

The University of Adam Mickiewicz is a prominent Polish public university and one of the oldest continuously operating universities in the country. Its roots can be traced back to the 17th century, and it is closely associated with the historical institutions of the Lubrański Academy and the Jesuit College, which held university status. These institutions were established under the royal privilege of Sigismund III Vasa on October 28, 1611.

The university's main administrative building is the Collegium Minus, an impressive neo-Renaissance structure situated at Adam Mickiewicz Square. The façade of this building is notable for its two grand porticos with towering gables. Additionally, a round tower was constructed on one side of the building, serving as an observatory platform.

Inside the Collegium Minus, the Small Hall features a copy of Jan Matejko's renowned painting, "The Founding of the Lubrański Academy" (the original is housed in the National Museum in Poznań). The hall and corridors are adorned with numerous plaques and busts honoring individuals who have made significant contributions to the university and Polish culture, including figures like Fryderyk Chopin, Heliodor Święcicki, and Edward Taylor. In May 2010, the Heliodor Święcicki Bench was erected in front of the Collegium Minus building, further commemorating the university's rich history and cultural significance.
Stary Browar (Old Brewery Shopping Center )

10) Stary Browar (Old Brewery Shopping Center )

Old Brewery is an award-winning complex that seamlessly blends art, leisure, shopping, and entertainment within a historic brewery building. Old Brewery's story begins with its historical brewery roots dating back to 1844 when it was known as the Huggerów Brewery. For many years, it produced beer until 1980, after which it shifted its production to mineral water until 1998. It was then acquired by the Fortis Group, which embarked on a substantial $66 million USD investment to breathe new life into the building.

What sets the Old Brewery apart is its commitment to art and design. The complex is not just a shopping destination but also an art gallery and architectural masterpiece. Visitors are treated to a visual feast, with outstanding design details throughout the building. Art installations, sculptures, and creative design elements can be found at every turn.

Old Brewery offers a plethora of attractions and amenities. It houses a cinema, fitness club, and an impressive array of restaurants, cafes, and bars where visitors can relax and enjoy a variety of culinary experiences. With over 200 retail spaces, shoppers can explore both renowned brands and popular chain stores, making it a shopping haven.
Polwiejska Street

11) Polwiejska Street

Polwiejska Street is often referred to as a promenade due to its pedestrian-friendly nature, as it is excluded from vehicular traffic. The street's name, Polwiejska, is derived from the medieval settlement of Polwies, which once occupied this area. While the settlement is no longer present, the street's name preserves this historical connection.

Polwiejska Street is renowned as one of the most popular commercial streets in Poznań. Along Polwiejska Street, you'll find the acclaimed Stary Browar shopping mall. In 2005, this mall was recognized by the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) as the best medium-sized shopping center in the world. It has become a focal point for shopping and entertainment in Poznań.

In addition to the major shopping malls, Półwiejska Street offers a wide variety of shops, ranging from well-known brands to smaller, unique boutiques.

Polwiejska Street serves as a direct route leading almost to the Old Market Square, one of Poznań's historic and cultural landmarks. This central location makes it easily accessible for both shoppers and tourists exploring the city.

Polwiejska Street is always bustling with activity. The diverse crowd of shoppers and pedestrians, combined with the street's lively ambiance, creates a vibrant and enjoyable urban experience.