What to See in Poznan if you love History
If you want to learn more about how Poznan came to be the city it is today, the place you need to go is Brama Poznania. There you are going to learn the story from Cathedral Island through multimedia interactive presentations and installations that teach you everything you need to know.
It may sound boring but this place is a must see. After a visit to the museum, you start to understand how Ostrow Tumski came to be the cradle of the Polish state. There you won’t find any artifacts. Brama Poznania is a place of storytelling and this is what you are going to see there.
Located one of the oldest parts of Poznan, where Warta and Cybina rivers meet, the building mixes the old and the new. On one side you can see a modernist building filled with interactive storytelling installations and, on the other side, you can see the Cathedral Lock that used to be a part of the Prussian Fortification system.
Genius Loci Archaeological Park
Genius Loci Archaeological Park is for hardcore history lovers like me. There you can see a different view into Poznan’s medieval past. This is an archeological site where you can unearth, reconstruct and understand how was the life of the people that used to live on the Cathedral Island more than a thousand years ago.
At Genius Loci Archaeological Park you will be able to see the original stone and wooden structures that date back to the 10th century and walk on a glass path on top of the original city walls and embankments. I don’t know if this place is for everybody but I loved to be able to see how Poznan looked like so long ago.
Cathedral Island aka Ostrow Tumski
There is an island between two branches of the River Warta and there is where you are going to find the oldest part of Poznan. Today the place is known as Ostrow Tumski in polish and it means Cathedral Island because it is there that you can find the Poznan Cathedral. But the island is not limited to it. There are a lot more happening there as you can read below. Now lets focus on the Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul is one of the oldest churches in Poland and the oldest polish cathedral. The construction of this beautiful church dates back to the 10th century and everything started as a small chapel. This chapel was probably built for Dobrawa, the christian wife of Poland’s first historical ruler, Mieszko I. There is a strong possibility that he was baptized there in 966, a key event when it comes to the christianization of Poland.
The building itself is a mixture of styles that range from the romanesque style to the gothic style passing through the a Baroque style after a fire in 1622 and, finally, neoclassical style after a major fire in 1772. During the years, the Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul suffered a lot of fires. The last one happened in february 1945 when the city was being freed from nazi Germany. The damaged was so heavy that the church was only reopened in 1956.
Today you can visit the church and even see where Mieszko I is buried. And, together with Brama Poznania, it gives you a lot of information about how Poznan came to be the city it is now.
Stary Rynek and the Old Market Square
In the center of Poznan, you will find the Old Market Square. Called Stary Rinek in polish, this is the center of the city. There you will find the historical Town Hall, a row of of merchants houses, the former town chancellery and the old weighing house. Take a walk around the square and you will be able to see everything but pay more attention to the tallest building there. You can thank me later.
So, the centerpiece of the Stary Rynek is the Town Hall. Originally it was a gothic construction but it was later rebuilt in the renaissance style by Giovanni Battista from Lugano. The building is beautiful and it’s known and the most beautiful non-church renaissance building north of the Alps. There is a museum there telling the history of the city but the coolest part of this place are the mechanical goats that appear from the roof everyday at noon to butt their heads together.
This mechanical clock has been there since 1551 and the story behind is hard to believe. Supposedly back when the tower clock was finished, there was a feast to celebrate the end of the construction and the governor and all its councilman got together to eat but one of the cook made a mistake a burned one of the main dishes. To save the party, the cook stole two goats that he intended to cook and serve but they escaped to the Town Hall Tower. When the guests arrived and saw those goats butting heads on the edge of the tower, the governor got the idea to make a mechanical clock and these is what we have today.
When I went to Poznan, the little I knew about the city was focused on the German military past and most of it was centered on Fort Winiary. This is how the old fortified area north of Poznan was called when it was built in the 19th century when the city was still under Prussian rule.
Today the place is called Park Cytadela. A huge park filled with a lot of things to do and see, among them you have a military museum, some military cemeteries and a lot of green areas to walk around, have picnics and enjoy the summer weather.
If you want to focus on the historical side of the place, go straight into the Museum of Armaments Poznan because it is the coolest thing there if you are into military history. There you will find a lot about Poznan military history, going from the Second World War to the Cold War and the Polish Cavalry Tradition.
Fort Vii aka Konzentrationslager Posen
Officially known as Konzentrationslager Posen, Fort VII was a Nazi concentration camp in Poznan during the Second World War. Nobody knows for sure, but there are different estimates that tell that, between 4.500 and 20.000 people died at Konzentrationslager Posen and we spent an afternoon there exploring the place.
Fort VII is a little far away from the city since it was built on one of the outer walls of the city. But I hope the distance that stop you from going there because it is a experience that you must go through to understand a little bit more about Poznan.
This fort is where, in October 1939, Nazi Germany start to experiment in mass execution by gas chamber. Around 400 patients from psychiatric hospitals in the region were murdered there and there you can learn about what happened during German occupation and how it shaped the future of the city and the country.
Imperial Castle and the Centrum Kultury Zamek
During Prussian rule, German emperor Wilhelm II wanted to show Poznan who was the boss of the city and decided to do this with a huge castle in the middle of the city. This is how the city ended up with the last and youngest monarchical residence in Europe. This huge building was made to allude medieval constructions and it was opened by the Emperor itself. But the history of this castle didn’t end there.
After the First World War, the Imperial Castle housed the Mathematical Department of the Poznań University and the students there were the ones that broke the code of Enigma, the german ciphering machine. It was also the seat of the Polish President during Inter Wars years but it didn’t last long.
During the Second World War, the castle was remodeled under Albert Speer as Hitler’s Residence in Poznan. Inside the castle you can still see some details from that era if you know what you are looking for. And you have to know that Hitler never used the Imperial Castle.
Today the Imperial Castle is known as Centrum Kultury Zamek and it hosts exhibitions, meetings and even an Animation Theater. From the outside, you can never expect how different the place looks on the inside.
Don’t forget to have a coffee on the restaurant inside while you enjoy the amazing architecture of the place.
Poznan Beer City
One of the best surprises I had when I got to Poznan was how good the beer was there. I’m not saying that beer in Berlin is bad, I’m saying that beer in Poznan is special. And I still not sure why this happens but I’m happy to share with you the places I loved and the beers you should try there.
Ministerstwo Browaru is a pub a little bit outside of the old city centre of Poznan with a great selection of beers. Including some brewed specially for the pub-like Minister Ale, a green beer that it looks weird but tastes really great.
Besides these beers, Ministerstwo Browaru has a lot of free trade beers and a great staff that will help you choose which beer you have to try out.
Brovaria is more than a bar; it is a three stars hotel, a great restaurant and a brewery at the same time. What else can you ask for? Besides that, the place is also beautiful. Located in a historical townhouse at the historical market square, Brovaria is highly recommended by Fotostrasse.
And the beer that they have there is produced at the restaurant, making Brovaria the only in-restaurant brewery in all of Poznan. They produce three types of beer (wheat, honey and pils) and you should try them all. All beers come unpasteurised and are available for take-away in small beer barrels that are perfect as gifts for those beer loving friends you must have.
Kultowa is a rock bar that only plays good music. During the days that we were in Poznan, the 2014 World Cup was happening and we wanted to follow what was happening in Brazil. This is how we found out about this bar and I believe we ended up there almost every day. As you imagined, they also have some nice local beers but not as many different ones as the other bars.
On the walls you will find books and poems written on napkins, from the ceiling hangs musical instruments and a lot of postcards from people that come and go. But you will be going to this bar for the beers, right? At Za Kulisami you will find at least 10 different regional beers ranging from sweet to dry draught beers.
See this Instagram photo by @dirtyeinstein * 59 likes
On our last night in Poznan, we went to Dragon to see how the people in the city like to party and we ended up in one of the coolest bars in town. This is where artists, musicians, students get together and you can feel in the atmosphere of the bar.
Located in a former townhouse, Dragon is quite unique with an amazing summer outdoor place that will make you wonder why there aren’t more places like this everywhere in the world.
And yes, there is a dragon head above the main bar. You cannot miss it when you go there to order your beer.
With more than 170 different beers on their menu, Kriek Belgian Pub & Cafe is a special place. Their speciality is Belgian beers but they will have something for you, trust me on this. This happens because they have amazing staff working there that knows more about beer than most people. You have to check them out.
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Yes, Proletaryat is a communist themed pub filled with memorabilia from those years and it is perfect for those who love red. There are better bars in Poznan but none of them look as cool as this one. Go there for the decoration, stay longer for the beers.
A Visit to the Lech Brewery
If you are really into beer, you have to visit Lech Brewery and learn how they make this amazing drink. Of course, you will have something to drink later but this is not why we are writing about it here.
Before my visit to Lech, I had never visit a proper industrial facility that produces beer. I have been to small breweries and I have seen some friends making beer but not like this. Lech is huge and there you will learn all the steps it takes for their great beer to arrive on a bar or your fridge. Each stage of production will be explained to you by guides who are more than beer experts.
After the lesson in beer production, you can visit the Lech Pub and enjoy some of the many brands they produce there. Personally, I would say that you have to choose between Lech Pils or Lech premium. Or you can do like me and try both of them.
The visit to Lech brewery might be only interesting for beer enthusiasts like us but you can see the pictures here and think about that. The brewery is open for visitors from Monday to Saturday, from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening and the tours can be held in Polish, English or German.
Where to go Shopping in Poznan?
Fotostrasse decided to wrote about shopping in Poznan here because we know many people that decided to visit the city to enjoy the currency difference between Germany and Poland to save money. And it is true. Even if Berlin can be considered a cheap city, when you compare to other european capitals, Poznan can be even cheaper than Berlin. If your currency is Euros, you are really going to enjoy shopping in Poznan. I know we did.
The first place you have to visit if you wanna do some shopping in Poznan is the amazing Stary Browar. Most of the big shops in the city are there and they have been awarded the best Shopping Center in the World back in 2005. Also, they have been voted as the best Shopping Center in Europe. Not just because of the shops but because they have this concept called 50/50 where half of the place needs to be used as an art space. This is why the place looks so amazing we even wrote a full article about it.
Jeżyce, A Walk on another side of Poznan
Jeżyce is an area west of Poznan Historical Center that is amazing for a long afternoon walk. The area is filled with historical buildings from the inter and post war Poland and they’re amazing to take pictures. But this part of Poznan is more than a place to take pictures.
One of the first places that you have to go when you visit Jeżyce is Brisman Kawowy Bar where you are going to have an amazing coffee. This place is made for those who really care about their coffee and you will see this when you ask for something special.
Another cool thing about the place is how amazing and friendly are the people that work there and how awesome it looks! Don’t miss this place!
Walk a little more into the middle of the neighborhood and you will stumble upon Rynek Jeżycki. This is the local street market where you can see fruits, vegetables and some authentic street food being sold. Everything looks great and, because of the currency exchange, everything is really cheap. So, if you want to eat like the locals do in Poznan, this is the place for you.
Fotostrasse is not a big fan of Zoos but we have to make an exception for Stare Zoo Poznan. One of the oldest zoos in Poland, dating back to the 19th century, you have to go there to play around with the farm animals that are everywhere and to understand how zoos used to look like a long time ago.
Stare Zoo is not big and you can enter the place for free and enjoy some shade and the amazing komodo dragons that are there.
Also in Jeżyce, you can find one of the best places to buy polish beer in Poznan. Centrala Piwna is not a bar but it is the place to go to look for something special among a thousand different beers. From regional brands to foreign curiosities. If you like beer, go there with some bags because I know you won’t leave this place empty handed.
Our Favorite Places to Eat in Poznan
Everywhere we ate in Poznan was amazing but we had to come up with a small selection of restaurants or else it would be too much. Lets start with this list.
On the day Fotostrasse went through Cathedral Island we also had the best meal of our time in Poznan. It happened at Vine Bridge, a really small restaurant that is so small that it doesn’t even seem like a real place. With just three tables, this is the smallest restaurant in Poland but don’t let this detail go over your experience there.
The dishes are unlike anything you have seen before and they look more than amazing as you can see on the pictures here. If you want to taste the best food in Poznan, you know you have to go to Vine Bridge. But make your reservation before!
If you want to try some burgers in Poznan, look no further than Święta Krowa. This cozy burger joint serves great burgers that are 100% beef and they even play around with a monthly special burger. Try it out.
Besides that, the service there is amazing. The day we decided to try their burgers, nobody there could speak english but this didn’t stop them to try to help us. We did some sign language, we did a lot of pointing to things and, in the end, we had some amazing burgers. Go to Święta Krowa and try for yourself.
Umberto is located in the middle of Park Cytadela and the restaurant was designed in a way to make you feel like you are still at the park. You are going to eat some amazing italian food surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants. This restaurant looks great and their food is even better.
Just be sure to order their tiramisu for desert. It is really to die for. Check it out!
This cafe is themed as a bird cage and is one of the best places to eat in Poznan. I remember reading that they have amazing breakfast but we were there for lunch so I decided to try their Spinach Lasagna and I can still remember it today.
For desert, you have no choice but order the chocolate cake. Ptasie Radio is famous for having the best chocolate cake in Poznan and we never met anyone that didn’t agree with this. Try it and tell us later.
We have to mention Brovaria here again. First, for the beers. Second for the great food we had there. Go to the terrace, order some beers and take a look at the menu where everything sounds amazing.
I remember hearing some tips about the Brovaria Burger but, in the end, I didn’t try it out. Maybe you should do it for me.
St Martin’s Croissant
This is not a restaurant tip but something you have to eat while in Poznan. St Martin’s Croissant is a local delicacy made with pastry and white poppy seeds. Nowadays it is one of the most famous pastries from Poland and it is even protected by The European Union Certificate of Authenticity.
The tradition behind the St Martin’s Croissant dates back to the 19th century when one of Poznan’s party makers decided to answer a call for St Martin’s parish and made a lot of croissants to feed the poor and the needy. Other pastry makers decided to follow its lead and this is how the tradition was born.
In Poznan, you can visit Poznań Croissant Museum and Experience and learn more about this traditional polish party and how it is made. All of this inside a beautiful townhouse right in the middle of the Old Market Square. An amazing place to take pictures of the Town Hall!
Genius Loci Archaeological Park
Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul
Centrum Kultury Zamek
Franowo Shopping Centre
Stare Zoo Poznan
If you have any more tips from Poznan that you feel like we forgot to mention here, leave it on the comments below!