What to see and where to eat in Poznan
Poznan played a major role in the formation of the Polish state in the 10th century, and the first Polish kings are buried here. But when Poland was broken up in the late 18th century, the city became part of the German Empire and was heavily Germanified. Poznan was even appointed the German Imperial Residence, resulting in the construction of a huge medieval-style castle, an opera house, and other magnificent buildings.
After the First World War, the city – like the rest of Poland – became Polish again, but its history can be seen in its streets, as German imperial construction and Art Nouveau sit alongside Polish Renaissance buildings, Communist concrete, and modern shopping centers. Poznan is beautifully compact and you can reach many of its attractions on foot. Don’t miss these:
Rynek – a Renaissance treasure
When in Poznan, there’s no avoiding Rynek. The colorful old market square, with its Renaissance town hall in the middle, is the undisputed center of the city and is filled with cafés and bars, some real winners among them. Visit the Brovaria microbrewery, boutique hotel and restaurant, for example, where the beer is brewed on site in large, shiny copper vessels, or Ratuszova for top Polish cuisine.
Rynek, Stare Miasto
There’s more to the Old Town than just Rynek. Explore the side streets and you will find a medieval castle undergoing reconstruction and the beautiful red-and-white Baroque church and monastery of Fara Poznanska. See the church from the inside and catch a free organ concert on Saturdays at 12.15pm. Take a guided tour around the church’s nooks and crannies after the concert, then dine in the courtyard at neighboring French restaurant Cocorico.
No trip to Poznan would be complete without a visit to Kaiser Wilhelm II’s bombastic castle, which certainly looks medieval, but actually dates from 1910. As well as being the Imperial Residence, the castle also served as the Nazi headquarters during the Second World War, but nowadays it is home to an exhibition and cultural center that boasts an art house cinema, festivals, performance art, and much more. The castle garden is a beautiful and unexpected oasis of roses and fountains, and the wonderful Pod Pretekstem serves cake, coffee, and more substantial meals of the highest quality.
Stary Browar (The Old Brewery)
The Poles have been very successful in transforming their old industrial buildings into attractive cultural and shopping centers. One of those is Stary Browar, a giant brewery complex dating back to 1844, which, as a cultural and shopping center, has breathed new life into an entire district. Here there are boutiques selling everything your heart could desire, alongside some of the best restaurants in Poznan, including the extraordinary Blow Up Hall 5050, that is half work of art, half gourmet restaurant. The park outside Stary Browar is one of the locals’ favorite hangouts, with deck chairs, coffee, cocktails, and chill-out DJs.
Stary Browar, ul. Polwiejska 42
A small urban garden, hammocks, deck chairs, container stalls, a beach bar, and of course a stand for fixie bikes. You won’t find anywhere hipper than here at the container city by the Warta River, where you can mix with the city’s young creative types and their contemporaries. There are lots of events, concerts, films, and art workshops here, as well as ample opportunity to hang out with a drink and watch the river and the people passing by. Open all summer.
Ul. Ewangelicka 1-4, between the Chrobrego bridge and the Rocha bridge.
Jezyce: Poznan’s Art Nouveau jewel
Charming Jezyce is Poznan’s Art Nouveau district par excellence. The main streets of Dabrowskiego and Roosevelta, and the market square of Rynek Jezycki have retained many fine examples of Art Nouveau architecture, despite the ravages of war and Communism. The district is also one of Poznan’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, with cafés and hip new dining spots such as Yezyce Kuchnia, and the Botanical Garden just around the corner.
Yezyce Kuchnia Szamarzewskiego 17, Facebook
Ogrod Botaniczny (the Botanical Garden), Dabrowskiego 165.
Text: Lise Hannibal
Published: May 20, 2017