One of the nice things about losing an afternoon to driving, is being able go sightseeing without further ado the following morning. Poznan awaits and fortified with morning coffee (aka, once I regain human form), off we set. Our Aussie neighbours warned us – they got lost on the way in, but we are smugness itself with their map in hand. You see where this is going, I’m sure.
Poznan is the capital of the Wielkopolska region, with a history that goes back to the 8th century. It was also the seat of Poland’s first bishopric (in the church below) and today is Poland’s second financial district, the first being Warsaw.
Our first stop couldn’t be simpler – the first Polish Cathedral, built in 968, beckons nearby, its spires an easy navigation target.
Made a wee bit trickier with complicated roadworks closing off pedestrian routes, but we work it out in the end. The church houses the tombs of Poland’s first rulers in a beautiful golden chapel.
It’s an unusual church with a detailed back and relatively plain frontage.
Across the way is the very modern Porta Posnania, a heritage centre with interactive displays. I’m not tempted though, not when there’s historic market square to explore nearby!
A little further afield is the Srodka 3D mural depicting the story of the Srodka district of Poznan. It’s very cleverly painted, on a flat wall. It was voted as one of Poland’s New 7 Wonders in a National Geographic Traveller poll. I particularly like the little black cat on top.
For once, the church isn’t the centre of the old town – it’s a further two kilometres on. There’s allegedly a tram, but roadworks have disabled the usual tracks, so on foot it is. The trouble is, I think it’s that way, Himself the other way, Google a third way.
Google does that sometimes in Europe, especially on foot. Confidently sends you in one direction for 500 metres then promptly tells you to reverse. The map is of little use. Someone, please, invent a paper map with a glowing, moving, reliable “you are here” dot. One that you can link into key highlights in a town. You’d make a fortune.
We stumble around for a while, complicating and extending our path, unable to cross the road due to the roadworks, getting just as lost as our neighbours did. So much for smug…
We get there in the end, a bit hot and grumpy. But…oh! The Old Market Square, Stary Rynek, is utterly spectacular. It’s a Renaissance masterpiece.
It’s enormous, anchored at each corner by a fountain,
surrounded by colourfully painted townhouses. At its centre is the beautiful, Town Hall with a three tiered loggia.
It’s a stunning building, built in 1550 – 1560, designed by Italian architect Giovanni Battista di Quadro. Try as we might though, we can’t find a way in. In the end, their website offers up the reason – restorations are underway, it won’t reopen until late 2020.
Also in the Square’s centre is a series of colourful traders’ houses, dating back to 16th century. Fish, candles and salt were sold in the arcades here. Some of their original trade signs still exist.
Himself starts to grumbling about lunch, performing an unusually complex, Goldilocks worthy, selection. The third one’s the charm (actually, I ran out of patience and insist he make a choice after not being happy with the first two) and sees us dining in a once royal residence. He has the sea bass on a bed of black lentils with a sour cherry gazpacho,
I have potato dumplings, stuffed with wild mushrooms, served with a truffled sauced.
Both dishes befit a once royal residence. My dumplings are divine. We’ve eaten so well in Poland!
Tempers settled and restored, we continue our explorations. We find the Dzialynski Palace, built in the late 18th century for a Lithuanian Grand Marshal. Very fancy, with its eagle on top.
There’s also the “pretty in pink” Post Jesuit College, now home to Poznan’s Council,
and endless detail to look at in the Square.
And no Polish city would be complete without a monument or three to its favourite son, Pope John Paul II.
Our last stop is the Church of Saints Mary Magdalene and Stanislaw.
Work began on the church in 1651, continuing for another 50 years. Its opulently Baroque interior is rather breathtaking.
It’s the work of many architects, craftsman and artists with finishing touches going on until 1727.
It’s a fitting last stop in the beautiful Poznan. Himself is redeemed by cracking the tram puzzle, saving a long walk home in the heat.
We plan to undertake the long drive to Wroclaw, some 300 km away, in what’s left of the day. It’s an unusual move for Himself, who doesn’t like to drive past 4 pm. It tells me he’s concerned for our timeline too.
The drive takes until 8 pm. But the upside, dear readers, is not one, or two, or even three, but nine…(nine!)…deer sightings. One gorgeous male, complete with large antlers and a little female, elegantly bounding across a field, amongst them. I’m knee deep in deer bliss. Much happy squealing from me each time a new sighting is made.