Pretty Polish Poznan
Poznan is a pretty city with so many things to see and do, that you should not make the same mistake as we did; spending only one night. The historic buildings in renaissance style will make your jaw drop and already start planning your next visit.
Through a friend of a friend, I had made an appointment to meet with a local. Arriving quite late, she met us upon arrival and took us for a walk around the city. With various stops for both eating, drinking and even some history, we got a great overview of this magnificent city.
Aneta took us to Basilium a small, cozy bar with a huge beer collection from all over Poland. The bottles were lined up on the wall behind the bar, and also in an additional shelf covering one of the others. The lighting was dimmed, with soft light to brighten up the dark walls. To divide one of the rooms, they had used melted and flattened glass bottles. A great place to go with both your friends or your loved one.
The next place we went, I must say I had my doubts just for a second. Entering Dragon, it was almost like walking in to a dragon’s cave. The place actually looked kind of tacky, and packed with loud, partying people. Luckily, Aneta walked determent through the horde, and out in the backyard. Better, but still the same crowd. But she went on, and opened a door that seemed to lead to a private house. Walking up the stairs, we passed two small rooms with bars, before coming out on a nice terrace. The perfect hidden gem! Apparently, there are several more rooms, and there are often concerts played there.
The heart of the city, the old market square, is surrounded by so many colourful houses, beautifully decorated with family shields and other decorative ornaments. Needless to say, I (again…) took too many photos…
In the middle of the square, you find the high raised renaissance Town Hall from the 13-14th century. The beautiful decorated belfry is place for one of the city’s’ main attractions. Every day at noon, two mechanical goats appear, and butt their heads together twelve times. Legend has it that the clock master Bartlomiej Wollf in 1551 decided to present his finished work to the city council and the citizens of Poznan. For the special opening ceremony, all the nobles were invited as well as the citizens. The meat prepared for the ceremony unfortunately was burned, and the assistant chef was told to find new meat immediately, as the supper was about to be served. It was late and all the butchers were closed, so he could not buy it anywhere. At the last moment, he saw two goats playing on the fields nearby. He grabbed them and took them to the kitchen. The goat understood what was happening, and as they did not want to end up as food, they ran up the stairs to the high clock tower. Everybody was laughing, the goats were spared, and supper was served without meat.
Right next to the Town Hall, a group of narrow houses are lined up like pearls on a string, one more colourful than the other. These were the craftsmen houses, where articles like fish, candles and salt were sold.
When we were in Krakow, we were told that if we went to Poznan, we could not leave without trying the traditional St. Martin Croissant. We took their word for it! There is actually a museum for this, telling the interesting story and show how it is done. The light version, that is. To make a real St. Martin Croissant, you actually have to have a license, and it has to be renewed each year to prove that you make it the right way. Among other things, this means making the dough into many thin layers before it is cut into stretched out triangles. The filling is made by almond and poppy seeds. Mmmm!
St. Martin is often described as a knight on a white horse, giving his coat to a beggar. The legend has it that a confectioner once found a horseshoe belonging to St. Martin’s horse. He gave the dough a similar shape, and decorated it with almonds. As a sign of his appreciation for the goodness of St. Martin, the confectioner gave them away to the poor.
And the bonus when visiting the Rogalowe museum; their windows face the Town Hall at the old market square and the demonstration finishes at noon, so you can watch the goats from there.
The cathedral is situated just across the bridge, on Cathedral Island. Dating back to the tenth century, it was actually the first built in Poland. In front of the cathedral is the gothic Holy Virgin Mary Church.
Sadly, we had to rush back and get going, as we had a long drive ahead of us. But as the sun was finally shining, we had to make time to stop for ice cream. Lodziarnia (Wroniecka 17) make their ice cream from scratch, and frequently change their flavors, varying from traditional taste like caramel and chocolate to different fruits. Delicious!!
Poznan, I promise, I will be back!
Where to stay:
We went for the budget version, and booked an ensuite double room at Hostel Frolic Goats. It is very centrally located, only a few hundred meters from the old market square. I can imagine it being a bit noisier during the weekends, but in that case, the room came with earplugs as accessories. The room was tiny, but we only needed a bed to sleep in, so it was ok. It has a rather large kitchen and common room if you want to hang out there, but as we had minimum time, we were outside all the time.
Read my other posts from Poland and the road trip through Europe.