Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Overnight Trip from Warsaw

Everyone, and I mean EVERY-ONE, had told me how cute, pretty and irrestible Poznań was, and I was about to find out for myself.

On an unusually hot August Saturday, we took an early train from Warsaw to Poznań. When we arrived at Poznań Głównywe decided to rent the almost-free NextBikes and ride to our hotel located right on the Stary Rynek (Old Market Square).
The colorful square, outlined by four fountains – Proserpine, Mars, Apollo and Neptune – is lovely and so is the beautifully-restored architecture.
Like most Polish cities, Poznań has experienced a tumultuous history. From Swedish, Prussian and Russian invasions to becoming part of Prussia, later Germany, and then incorporated into Hitler’s Third Reich during World War II, the city has survived and been rebuilt. What you’ll see, though, is quite stunning!

We dedicated about 26 hours to see Poznań, which was just enough time to enjoy the major sights. I highly recommending renting the bikes so you can cover more ground quickly. Here’s a rundown of how to spend your time here:

Hang out with the Goats
Every day at noon,  two metal goats appear at the top of the clock tower above the Town Hall in the middle of the square. We arrived with just enough time to drop off our backpacks, see the goats butt their horns together 12 times and count together in Polish with the crowd. Today, the Town Hall is home to the Historical Museum of Poznań and it’s worth popping in for 30 minutes or so to grasp a bit of the city’s history.

Why goats? Well, the legend is that two goats, intended to be cooked for a celebratory banquet, escaped and ended up clashing horns above the about-to-be-unveiled clock. Afterwards, local officials ordered the clockmaker to add the naughty animals’ images to his piece.

Take a Free Walking Tour
Shortly after watching the goats, we looked for a guide holding a sign near the Town Hall. I can’t remember now which company we used, but you can’t miss it. I find these walking tours are a good way to explore a new city, and then you tip the kind guide at the end.
The Colorful Merchants’ Houses
Inside the square, you’ll find some of the most brightly colored buildings I’ve seen so far in Poland. Known as the Merchants’ Houses, they originally served as stalls selling salt, candles, everyday items, etc. The upper floors served as living quarters for the stall owners. After WWII, the buildings were restored to their original design.
Old Churches
The salmon-colored Parish Church of St. Stanislaus is one of the largest churches in Poland at 55 meters in length. This baroque church, painted with many scenes featuring the life of St. Stanislaus, was originally built for the Jesuits by Italian architects after more than 80 years of work (1651–1732). The historical pipe organ dates to 1876.
Cathedral Island
After our walking tour, we road bikes over to Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island), the island where Poznań originated according to local history. The first Poznań Cathedral was built here in the 10th century; and you can see some old artifacts and original foundations in the crypt.
Castle Ruins
The newly re-built Przemysław Castle (also known as Castle Hill) is a slightly elevated part just west of the Old Market Square. The hill served as the foundation of the new Poznań when it was relocated from the Cathedral Island in 1253, and a new castle was built here by King Przemysł I. The castle was largely destroyed during WWII, but was partially rebuilt and now serves as the Museum of Applied Arts. However, the museum is currently undergoing renovations and will re-open in December 2015.
The War Cemetery and Citadel Park
Just north of the Old Town, it’s worth riding bikes around the spacious Citadel Park, consisting of 89 hectares and even a military museum. The park, the former site of several military battles and a POW camp, also contains a large War Cemetery – just another reminder of the country’s tragic history.
On top of the hill, you’ll find this interesting iron sculpture, The Unrecognized, by well-known Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz, that’s meant to question who we are and where we are going.
Meet Another Blogger
Well, this item won’t be on everyone’s to-do list, but it was on mine. Luckily, I got to meet and have lunch with Lois of The Polish Housewife. Although Lois recently moved back to the U.S., her blog is filled with lots of yummy Polish recipes, baking recipes and stories about her expat life in Poland.

We had a delicious lunch at the trendy MOMO love at first bite in Poznań.

Hopefully, my photos will encourage you to visit Poznań as well!

Where to Stay:
Brovaria Brewery and Hotel – newly remodeled, reasonable rates and has air conditioning.

Good Eats and Drinks:
*Brovaria Brewery
*MOMO love at first bite, ul. Szewska 2, a casual restaurant featuring fresh salads and seafood. 
*Find more than 100 Belgian beers, including gluten-free beers, at Kriek, ul. Wodna 23.
*Good selection of Spanish wines and delicious tapas at La Rambla Tapas Bar, Wodna 5/6.

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Julia said...

Well you can see just from the photos why everyone recommended it to you. VERY pretty. and great to see free walking tours on offer, too. Such a good way to see a new place and learn some information. :)

jaz@octoberfarm said...

what a wonderful town!

Joy said...

Thanks Julia! Yes, the free tours are really nice! I've even done the one in Warsaw. :-)

Joy said...

Yes, it was a good weekend!

Heather | Ferreting Out the Fun said...

Pretty indeed! My list for Poland just keeps getting longer and longer - I don't know how I'm going to fit it all in!

Joy said...

@Heather, there's really tons to discover here in Poland! Whenever you make your travel plans, please let me know. Happy to help!