Read about the city
Poznan is one of Poland's great and historically significant cities. This means that many sights and activities await; museums, churches, shopping and other city activities and also special places such as the many preserved parts of the fortifications that made the former Festung Posen.
Poznan's Old Town around the market square, Stary Rynek, is a lovely and cozy place for a walk. Here are beautifully decorated houses in line with the city's old town hall as the central and probably most famous building. Stary Rynek itself is quite a large square with several monuments and more.
Throughout the centuries, Poznan has been a residence town on several occasions, and over time this status has influenced the city and its history. As a residential town, castles have been built, and in central Poznan you can see both the city's royal palace and the imperial palace, which was constructed for the German emperor's stay in Poznan.
There are many magnificent churches as well in Poznan, and the city's cathedral on the Cathedral Island is the most important to visit. The church has lead a significant part of Poznan's development, and close to it you can visit the cathedral museum, where fine religious art is exhibited.
- All Saints Church/Kościół Wszystkich Świętych: This church was built from 1768 after the permission of the authorities to allow Protestants to build brick churches in Poznan. In 1945, the beautiful church became Catholic.
- Main Guard & Wielkopolska Rebellion Museum/Odwach & Muzeum Powstania Wielkopolskiego: The main guard is an elegant building on Poznan's old market square. It was built in 1785-1787 and is now open as a museum for the uprising in the Wielkopolska region in 1918-1919.
- Royal Castle/Zamek Królewski: Poznan is one of Poland's former royal residence cities, and you can see a royal castle in the city. It was Duke Przemysł I who in 1249 began the construction of the castle, you can see today.
- National Museum of Poznan/Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu: The National Museum of Poznan is mainly an art museum where you can see fine art collections with works by Polish and foreign artists.
- Franciscan Church/Kościół Franciszkanów: This church is one of Poznan's most notable. It was built by Franciscans after the Franciscan Order came to town in the first half of the 17th century. The church is beautiful both in the architecture and in the fine interior.
- Porta Posnania: Porta Posnania is an interactive activity and depiction of the history of the Cathedral Island of Poznan. The story goes back over 1,000 years and has left its mark on Poznan's development.
- The Old Brewery/Stary Browar: Stary Browar is a cultural center and shopping center that opened in 2003 in a former brewery building. It was the brewery Hugger, which was located here from 1844.
- The Polish Theater/Teatr Polski: This theater was built 1873-1875 after the design of the architect Stanisław Hebanowski. It happened during the German time, and the theater was therefore important for the Polish culture in the area.
- Collegium Maius: The Collegium Maius is one of the magnificent buildings the Prussians erected in the neighborhood around the Imperial Palace. The building was built in neo-baroque in the years 1908-1910.
- Archdiocesan Museum/Muzeum Archidiecezjalne w Poznaniu: This is a museum of religious art and religious objects. The museum was founded in the 1890s, and its collections consist of art from several stylistic periods and places.
- Lake Malta/Jezioro Maltańskie: Jezioro Maltańskie is a large artificial lake that, together with the surrounding park, forms a popular recreational area in southeastern Poznan. Here is a miniature railway and many leisure activities.
[expand title="Read about city history" id="historie2" swaptitle="Hide content"]
Poznan's history started on the Cathedral Island / Ostrów Tumski, located centrally between the rivers Warta and Cybina. The settlement was an entrenchment of the strategically located location, and for centuries it constituted the cultural and political center of Poland, then constituted by the geographical area of the Polan tribe.
The Christian Polish Nation
The establishment of the Polish state is believed to have taken place in the year 966, when Mieszko I, as leader of the Polan tribe, was baptized and thereby Christianized the country. Baptism is believed to have taken place in precisely Poznan.
With the baptism of Mieszko Ice, the construction of a cathedral was started in Poznan. It was Poland's first, which highlights Poznan's role in and significance for the country's history. It was also for this that Bishop Jordan was sent as the first missionary in the form of just a bishop.
Poznan was not Polish capital. As such, there was not formally a capital in the country, but practically Gniezno east of Poznan acted as such. With a congress in Gniezno in the year 1000, this city was chosen as the region's archbishopric rather than Poznan, which still had its own bishops.
The Poznan Cathedral also retained its importance, which was emphasized by the fact that the first Polish regents were buried here; Mieszko I, Boleslav I, Mieszko II and Kasimir I. Later, the dukes of Przemysł I and Przemysł II were also buried in the cathedral.
The Polish kingdom was not many decades old until internal tensions arose. It happened between Gentiles and Christians, and their struggles made the kingdom weaker. This weakness took advantage of the Bohemian Duke of Bretislav in 1038 in the form of a voyage against Poznan and Gniezno, both of which were attacked, looted and destroyed.
The following year, Kasimir I came to the throne and he started the rebuilding of the country. With Poznan and Gniezno as destroyed cities, Kasimir I moved the capital and the residence to Krakow, which was relatively untouched and therefore well-functioning in relation to, for example, Poznan. As a result, Poznan's importance to the country had been reduced.
With the death of King Bolesław III in 1138, Poland was divided into a series of duchies, where the sons of the deceased king were inducted as rulers. For Poznan, Mieszko III became the country's leader.
This period of division of the former kingdom lasted until 1320, and during this period there were partly changing regents and changing division of the duchies; for example, Poznan and Gniezno sometimes belonged under the same rule, and sometimes they were divided.
In 1249, Duke Przemysł began the construction of what became the Royal Palace of Poznan over the years. Four years later, Thomas Guben obtained permission to establish a new city between the castle and the river Warta. The town was given the township rights with Magdeburg as a model, and Thomas of Guben invited many German settlers to it. His city became what is today the old town of Poznan, and around it a city wall was established.
Under Duke Przemysł II, crowned king in 1295, Poznan became the center of a kingdom. This was because Przemysł II was crowned king of Poland, with which his duchy residence became royal residence. However, this status lasted only briefly, with the new king being murdered the year after he had ascended the throne.
In 1314, Poznan became subject to Władysław I, and he came to make a difference for Poland. In 1320 he was crowned king of a reunited country, and the period of Polish and Polish-Lithuanian unity, respectively, came to 1793.
Under the new Poland, Poznan became the regional administrative seat, and due to its strategic location on the trade routes from, among others, Lithuania to Western Europe, it flourished. Furthermore, King Władysław Jagiełło granted Poznan some trading rights, which also strengthened the positive development.
The 1300-1400s continued to be a time when the entire urban area, which today constitutes Poznan, was divided into several separate cities, each with their own trade and rights. Ostrów Tumski and the area on the right bank of the Warta belonged to the bishop, and they obtained market town rights in 1335. Most of the left bank constituted Poznan; examples of other allocations of trade rights were Śródkas in 1425 and Chwaliszewos in 1444.
Major ups and downs
Over the centuries, Poznan developed positively, but there were also major setbacks and accidents that hit the city along the way. Thus, in the 1300-1500s, Poznan was hit and ravaged by six major fires, and regular floods and epidemics also occurred.
On the positive side, growth in the important trade, which not least made Poznan the marketplace for leather and furs from Russia and Lithuania, spoke. The population also grew, and in 1519 the Lubrański Academy was founded. From the beginning, the Academy was one of the leading educational institutions in Poland.
The city is believed to have had around 20,000 inhabitants in the mid-1500s. Of them, there were up to 2,400 Germans who, unlike many Poles, were Protestants. In the latter half of the century, a reformation was underway, but the majority of the Roman Catholic dominated, and the Catholic Church's counter-reformation was expressed through a new Jesuit college in the city in 1571.
From the latter half of the 1600s, the Polish state and also Poznan were increasingly threatened and also invaded. The Swedish army occupied Poznan in 1655 and burned parts of the city's suburbs as they retreated. In 1656, the armies of Brandenburg took over, but they too gave up; after a month-long siege in 1657, they surrendered, but left a ruined city.
1700s Century wars
Poznan's hardship was not over with the 18th century. From 1703 to 1709 Swedish armies again occupied the city, and Poznan became a Provence force in Sweden's military and political campaigns in the Polish. In 1709, Saxon troops arrived, and later Russian forces came to the area: the Russians did not, however, invade Poznan, but remained outside the city walls.
In 1711 a large part of the city burned down, and with the many sieges and occupations it was quite a ruined city going into the 1720s. By 1728, about 30% of the town's houses were thus dilapidated, and a great flood in 1736 left many of the suburbs deserted. All of these episodes prompted the city government to invite Frankish settlers from Bamberg to Poznan to settle and rebuild the city's suburbs and uplands.
From 1758 to 1775 Poznan was almost constantly occupied or involved in contemporary wars. This was not least due to the city's strategically important location, and it was, among other things, Russian and Prussian forces that occupied the city.
In 1793, the so-called second Polish division happened, and it hit Poznan geographically hard. The new Poland was significantly reduced in size, and western Poland including Poznan was subject to Prussia. Just two years later, the disaster for Poland became complete as the country ceased to exist. Instead, the Polish territory was divided between Prussia, Russia and Austria.
The first Prussian era
In 1793, Poznan became subject to Prussia. The following year, it was estimated that around 15,000 people lived in the urban area, 70% of whom were Poles, 20% were Jews and 10% were Germans. In the early years of the Prussian era, Poznan had the status of Prussian provincial capital.
The first Prussian years were a time of extensive construction. Suburbs became part of the city, and the ancient walls and fortifications of the Middle Ages were demolished to make way for urban development. New streets and squares were laid out, such as Königsplatz and Wilhelmsplatz, which can still be seen in Poznan's street scene.
The first Prussian era ended in connection with the Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the 19th century. Napoleon's successful campaign against Prussia enabled Polish generals Jan Henryk Dąbrowski and Józef Wybicki to establish an army of French aid and then occupy Poznan and the Prussian province around the city. The generals were able to occupy Poznan on November 3, 1806, and the city became important in the continuing military Polish struggle. Napoleon himself came to the city and stayed in the Jesuit College from November 27 to December 12 of the same year.
Between 1807 and 1815, Poznan became the subdivision of the Duchy of Warsaw as a regional administrative seat. However, from February 12, 1813 to 1815, Russian forces had occupied the city following Napoleon's retreat and defeat in Russia.
Vienna Congress and Prussia
After the Napoleonic Wars, a conference was held on parts of Europe's future. For Poznan, the Vienna Congress meant that the city was once again subject to Prussia; this time nominally as the Grand Duchy of Posen.
Poznan became the German Posen, and in the city the royal governor had a seat as a representative of Prussia. The period led to a Germanization, although there was some autonomy and respect for Polish history and culture in the city.
It was during this time that the last parts of the old walls and gates were torn down and replaced by the Poznan / Festung Posen fortress, which was built from 1828 as a citadel and a ring of forts around the city center; these forts came into being in the latter half of the century.
The 19th century was generally a century of great development in economy, industry, culture and education. Both Polish and German initiatives saw the light of day; Among other things, the Polish Raczyński Library and a training grant for poor Poles were established.
The 19th century was also the century when railways were built in great style in Europe, and in the 1830s the first plans for a railroad from Poznan to Frankfurt an der Oder with further connection to Berlin were made. The first runway from the city was opened in 1848, and it linked the city north to Stargard. Other installations were also completed; the first gas lamps in Poznan were lit in 1858, and the first modern water supply was inaugurated in 1866.
In the late 1840s, Polish uprisings against Prussian rule came. Both in 1846 and in 1848 they were demolished and the German rule continued. In 1871 Poznan and the region became part of the German Empire.
Horse-drawn trams roamed the streets of Poznan from the year 1880; it was drawn on a line from the city's central square to the railway station. The first electric cars ran from 1898, while taxis began operating in 1904.
The decades around 1900 also provided space for new large-scale buildings. In the German empire, the emperor was naturally head of state, and in Poznan an imperial palace was planned and built as a residence. In the new city plan around the palace, a number of large buildings were built to match the major lines of the imperial palace, turning it into a brand new imperial district close to Poznan's old shopping center.
The buildings were not used long before the German era, before World War I broke out and ravaged Europe from 1914 to 1918. After the end of the war and Germany's defeat, a new Polish independence was on the drawing board, but it was uncertain whether Poznan and the Greater Poland should be part of the new country.
The politician and spokesman for Polish independence, Ignacy Paderewski, spoke in Poznan on December 27, 1918, leading to the Polish uprising of 1918-1919. The uprising ended with Poznan becoming part of the Second Polish Republic.
With the reality of independent Poland, Poznan's Polish status was a factor that brought about new development in the city. Polish institutions were established, and administratively the city was expanded to accommodate more suburbs.
The Polish Republic was developing, but international politics and economic conditions were contagious. Political developments in Germany were of particular importance, with the country attacking Poland in 1939 as the start of World War II.
Poznan was incorporated in Germany and Poznan was part of the German Reichsgau Posen administrative area, which was later changed to Reichsgau Wartheland. The area manager had the title of gauleiter, and the post contested Arthur Geiser from January 1940 to January 1945.
World War II was tough for Poznan and its people. About 100,000 residents were relocated to the General Government to the east, and others died or were sent into forced labor.
The Soviet army eventually won the war, and in January 1945, the forces moved west into Poland and approached Poznan. The city was declared the fortress Festung Posen and it was to be defended to the last man. However, an evacuation of the city's civilian population began on January 20, and five days later the Red Army reached the city. In February, Poznan was bombed and on February 18 the Soviet land attack started. Five days later, the city's German garrison surrendered.
The battles of the war in and around Poznan had shattered more than half of the city, and up to 90% had been destroyed for the old town. The German population had fled or had to leave Poznan after the war, and by 1946 the city's 268,000 large population was largely Polish.
Communism to today
Poland was in the Soviet zone of interest after World War II, thereby becoming part of the Eastern Bloc in the decades after 1945. A colossal reconstruction work was initiated and Poznan rose from the ruins.
In 1956, unrest arose in Poznan. It happened among the workers at the locomotive factory Cegielski, which was one of the country's largest factories. The workers objected to certain working and living conditions, and it came to fighting between workers and the police. 67 people perished in the days of the fighting, and June 1956 became an early symbol of the resistance in Poland to the communist regime.
From the 1960s, thousands of new apartments were built in new suburbs, and the city's infrastructure was strengthened with new roads and a redirection of the river Wartas running through the city. It gave way to new urban development.
After the fall of communism, a continued and increased development from the 1990s occurred. New modern trams began to run, and highways were constructed by the city if the townspeople underwent a new restoration. It benefited the growing number of visitors who came to Poznan's large exhibition halls. Major events have also been conducted in the city; eg the UN Climate Conference in 2008 and matches during the European Football Championship in 2012.
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