Our next stop on the Euro 2012 circuit is a somewhat lesser known venue, Poznan. This city, known mostly only by business travellers, holds secrets that will definitely surprise you. Let’s take a look at Poznan, whose name means “Capital city of Poland.”
The birthplace of the Polish nation… today Poznan is an arts centre even if it’s not still the capital city of Poland. For the first-time traveller, you’ll encounter a youthful city; university students fuelling the nightlife and historical buildings providing tourists something worthwhile to see by day.
What to see in Poznan
- Stare Rynek – The old market square is located right downtown, sandwiched between beautiful Baroque and Gothic houses, most remembered for their brightly painted facades.
- Ratusz – City Hall, built in the sixteenth century in classic Renaissance style. Take a look at the towers, one of them has a clock that has a special surprise for those that watch it strike noon.
- Kolegiuk Pojezuickie – The former Jesuit college was built in the eighteenth century and is now used as a municipal building. Once upon a time, this college was used as a hotel for emperor Napoleon I en route to Moscow. Later, Frederic Chopin even gave concerts here.
- Church of St. Stanislaus and Our Lady – This church is remarkable, likely the most beautiful baroque church in all of Poland. The best time to go inside is when there is a concert going on or the organ player is rehearsing, melodies resonating throughout the building.
- St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral – This was Poland’s first cathedral, built between 968 and the year 1000. Don’t miss checking out the chapels that line the main aisle, many of which survived the bombings in 1945.
- King’s Castle – This royal palace was built in the thirteenth century on top of a hill, the norm at that time. It has been destroyed and built up again on several occasions over the centuries. From the top though, you can get a spectacular view of the city.
- Emperor’s Castle – Relatively new, the emperor himself inaugurated this building in the early twentieth century. It has been used by the Polish president as well, it served as Hitler’s residence during WWII. Today the castle is a cultural centre constantly holding concerts, exhibitions and festivals.
Food & Drinks
Polish cooking, generally speaking, is a combination of German and Slav recipes. There are even significant influences in the Polish cuisine from Turkey, Hungary, Armenia and France. You’ll find menus packed with calories, ideal for cold winter days. Some typical dishes you should try:
- Barszcz: beet soup very typical in Slavic villages in this region.
- Czernina: soup with duck blood broth.
- Varenikes: pasta with meat, mushrooms and cheese.
- Bigos: stew, usually accompanied with sauerkraut and cabbage.
- Gulash: clearly a Hungarian-inspired dish.
- Golonka: one of the country’s star dishes, it’s knuckle… well cooked.
Apart from this you can expect herring and salmon appetizers. As for drinks, beer is common as well as vodka.
Poznan is a really young city, with tons of students which keep the city vibrant and buzzing. The city is also very important musically. Choirs, ballet… classical dance and song live here.
Rynek is usually a good place to start on any night of the week, it’s the hub of the city as soon as night falls. Cocktail bars to restaurants, you’ll find just about everything you’re looking for right here. Head to Marcin Street where you’ll find Kisielice, Dragon or Czytelnia, the Proletaryat (inspired by Communist times), the Dubliner and Tuba (Mare Grasbary, 6).
Also worth checking out: Blue Note on Kosciuszki 76, Sushi Jazz Sharp on Stary Rynek 56 and Czerwony Fortepian on Wroniecka 18.
How to get to Poznan
Low cost airlines have your back if you’re thinking of heading to Euro 2012 on cheap flights to Poland. From London Stansted fly direct with Ryanair or from Luton with Wizzair. You can also take off from Dortmond, Bristol, Liverpool, Doncaster and Edinburgh with either Ryanair or Wizzair.
Have you ever been to Poznan? What do you recommend checking out?