For the last bank holiday weekend, I decided to explore Eastern Europe. Poland – the land of the great composer and virtuoso pianist Frédéric Chopin – has always been a country I’ve wanted to visit.
My first stop was Poznan, which was once the capital of medieval Poland and is today the capital of the Wielkopolska region. Poznan lies midway between Berlin and Warsaw, which has helped make it an important and wealthy town for centuries.
Badly damaged during World War II, the city (especially its Old Town) has been beautifully restored with colourful striped and wedding cake-like houses and buildings. The Old Town Square (Stary Rynek) is one of Europe’s finest and is lined by amazing historic attractions, restaurants and nightlife. The Basilica of St Peter and Paul is Poland’s oldest cathedral. I was greatly impressed by the beautiful fountains located in the four corners of the Market Square. Each fountain has stone carvings based on a mythological character: Mars, Jupiter, Neptune and Apollo. The fountain of Proserpine, located in front of the old Town Hall, is just as spectacular.
Iconic and synonymous with Poznan is the St Martin’s croissant (or “rogale marcinskie” in Polish). I was surprised to learn that the croissant is legally protected in Poland and the whole EU. Since its historical origin is Poznan, only a small number of registered bakeries are allowed to produce it and no one else. You will love it! It is a scrumptious croissant of 81 layers, filled with poppy seeds, raisins, orange peel, walnuts, biscuit crumbs, eggs and almond flour – and must weigh between 150-250 grams, otherwise it doesn’t qualify.
Poznan Old Town has a lively atmosphere with buzzing restaurants and bars lining the Market Square. Wandering about we came across a small boutique bar that specialises in quirky, signature alcoholic shots. At only 5 Zloty a shot (less than £1), it’s a great way to start the evening!
During my trip I also visited “Biskupin”, which is an open air archaeological museum and model of an Iron Age fortified settlement in Poland. And on our last day, we went sailing on one Poland’s most beautiful lakes.
My top travel tips for Poznan:
- Poznan Town Hall located at the Old Town’s Market Square was originally built in the late 13th century following the founding of the medieval city in 1253. At noon each day, the Old Town Hall’s tower has a show that features two mechanical goats bashing each other’s horns preceded by a bugle call. It’s part of the Poznan experience. Make sure you are there by noon.
- Market Square / Old Town is the centre of social life and activities with lots of bars and restaurants. The fountains and medieval architecture creates perfect post card pictures.
- Pop into the 5 Zloty shots bar. I counted 135 different types of shots to choose from. At less than £1 a shot, a fun way to start the night. My favourite shots were the tiramisu , spider man and toilet.
- Visit the St Martin’s Croissant Museum, which gives you entertaining historical insights into Pozan’s origins and significance, and the iconic croissant. It’s an interactive baking experience rather than a museum, so a lot of fun!
- The archaeological open-air museum “Biskupin” is an archaeological site and a life-size model of an Iron Age fortified settlement in Poland. The excavation and the reconstruction of the prehistoric settlement has played an instrumental part in Polish historical consciousness.
That was my weekend experience in Poznan. I had a great time. True to form, the Polish people were warm, friendly and welcoming. I’m looking forward to going back to Poland – perhaps to explore Krakov and Warsaw.