Exploring history - the most important monuments


Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island)


The location of the first settlement on an island between the branches of two rivers was convenient for defensive purposes but troublesome due to repeated floods and limited space. Poland’s first ruler Mieszko I built a stronghold on the island with a palace of stone and a small temple. However the most prominent building there is the Cathedral featuring a three-nave basilica surrounded by numerous chapels. The present church was restored in the Gothic style after the devastation it suffered during the liberation of the city in 1945. The building’s oldest parts can be found in the cellars – fragments of pre-Romanesque church together with Romanesque walls, the remains of the tombs of the first Polish rulers and baptismal basin which attests to the fact that christening ceremonies were held there after 966 when Poland accepted the new faith. The aisle and ambulatory are surrounded by a ring of chapels, mostly 14th and 15th century ones, the most famous of which is the Golden Chapel – modeled after Byzantine architecture in 1834 as a mausoleum for Mieszko I and Boleslav the Brave.



Town Hall

The new town was located on the left bank of the Warta river in 1253 around a market square with its most important edifice – the town hall. The first mention of Poznań’s town hall is from 1310; later rebuilt in the early 16th century was damaged in a fire in 1536. The reconstruction work started in 1550 and was led by an Italian architect Giovanni Battista di Quadro from Lugano. The architect designed the Renaissance façade in the east with a characteristic three-storey loggia. Both the façade and the attic surmounting the edifice were among the first of their kinds in Poland and it is undoubtedly the most beautiful municipal edifice of this period in Central Europe. Above the clock there is a clownish mechanism with two goats, butting their horns twelve times every day at noon… Today the town hall houses the Museum of the History of Poznań.



 The Parish Church


The former Jesuit church (the Parish Church since 1803) is undoubtedly the most beautiful sanctuary in Poznań. It took almost hundred years to build and furnish it but the result is of a very harmonious edifice. This three-nave basilica with a transept was built between mid-17th and mid 18th century and its excellent design and ornamentation link it to Roman Baroque churches. The Baroque splendour of the altarpieces, paintings and stuccowork is overwhelming and delightful, and recent restoration works have brought the vividness of colors. The unique mid-19th century organs made by the distinguished organ-maker F. Ladegast are the most precious part of the Church’s equipment.





The Imperial Castle


Towering over one end of Św. Marcin Street is the impressive Imperial Castle designed by Franz Schwechten and erected between 1905 and 1910, together with other several buildings within this area, forming the so called Castle Quarter. The castle is the last royal residence built in Europe, financed from state funds but Keiser Wilhelm II personally paid for the castle chapel. His private apartments and the rooms of his family were in the western wing of the castle. During the Nazi occupation the castle was rebuilt into the residence for Adolf Hitler (who, in fact, never visited the castle). The chapel was destroyed and converted into a huge office for the Chancellor of the Third Reich (now the Fireplace Room) and most of neo-Romanesque decoration was removed and pieces of furniture were put up for sale. After 1945  there were plans to demolish the castle which was considered the symbol of Prussian and Nazi oppression. However, thanks to local pragmatism the castle survived and only the tower was lowered by 30 meters. The former imperial residence houses now the “Zamek” Cultural Centre and many cultural institutions, such as the Animation Theatre and Museum of Poznań June 1956.

Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island)
Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island)
Town Hall
Town Hall
The Parish Church
The Imperial Castle
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