Walk in Poznań: Market Sqaure and around

Poznań is chiefly famous for two mechanical fighting goats butting each other's horns every day as the clock on the City Hall tower strikes noon. But it's not the only reason why the Market Square is worth visiting. Find out what other attractions can be found in the area.

Old Market Square

Old Market Square

It is square-shaped and each side is 140m long. A net of intersecting perpendicular streets leads there. The Market Square period houses were reconstructed after World War II in Renaissance and Baroque styles. The main Market Square building is Renaissance City Hall. When its tower clock strikes midday, two metal goats appear and butt heads 12 times.

On the south side of City Hall there are the Clearing Forests Men's Houses (Domki Budnicze), with characteristic arcades which are remains of the merchant houses. Their present look is a result of post-war reconstruction.

In the immediate vicinity of City Hall there is also a Guardroom (seat of municipal watch) a Classical building erected in 18th century where a wooden one once stood. Today it houses the Museum of Great Poland's Uprising.

In the four corners of the Old Market Square there are four fountains which represent Proserpina, Apollo, Neptune and Mars. They were erected in places of wells dismantled in the 19th century. Proserpina's Well is Rococo-styled and comes from the 18th century, the other three were installed between 2002 and 2005. In the pavilions in the southern part of the square there is Great Poland's Military Museum. Behind the Clearing Forests Men's Houses there is a copy of a 16th century whipping post, with a statue of the executioner with a sword in his hand. There is also a well with a statue of Bamberg Girl, founded at the beginning of 20th century and a Baroque statue of St John of Nepomuk, supposed to protect the city from flooding.

City Hall

City Hall

This is a Renaissance building in Poznan's Market Square. Its oldest parts are early Gothic, ribbed and cross vaulted cellars, the first floor of the Great Hall (Renaissance Hall) with its vault decorated with images of animals, mythological and biblical characters, the sun, the moon and planets. In the Royal Hall there is a Renaissance fireplace decorated with the city's coat of arms. The Court Room has a 16th-century Renaissance vault.

The external look of City Hall is a result of a 16th-century reconstruction when the original 14th-century building, along with a major part of the city, got burned. The City Hall was enlarged towards the west to support the Gothic tower which was in danger of collapsing. The building received a fresh Renaissance design and a façade with a 3-storey loggia. Over the arcade arches of the ground floor relief decoration was placed, depicting virtues which should characterize city councillors: patience and prudence, charity and justice, faith and hope, valour and moderation. The other elevations are not that richly ornamented.

It is worth paying attention to buttresses strengthening the tower on the north side and to the attic which on the east side resembles a fortification wall with 3 towers. In the middle tower there is a clock above which every day at midday two metal goats butting heads appear. The first clock mechanism was installed in 1551.

Nowadays the City Hall houses the Historical Museum of Poznan, showing the history of Poznan from 13th century until 1954. It is arranged in the rooms of the ground, first and second floors.

Działyński Palace

Działyński Palace

It is situated in the western side of the Old Market Squate, at the exit of Franciszkańska Street. Its appearance today is the result of post-war reconstruction lasting between 1953 and 1957. The magnificent palace in Baroque and Classical style was built for Great Hetman of Lithuania at the end of the 18th century in the place of two medieval period houses. At the back of the palace there was a garden. The palace belonging first to the Działyński family, later to the Zamoyski family.

It can be entered through two gates, both once used by carriages. The façade is decorated with pilasters above which a triangular tympanum with Działyński family's coat of arms. An attic covering a mansard roof is filled with relief ornaments from the beginning of the 19th century, representing mythological scenes, and there are a panoply and a figure of a pelican. The most splendid room in the palace is Red Hall whose windows open to a wide balcony at the front façade. The palace houses Polish Academy of Sciences and a branch of Kórnik Library.

Former Jesuit College

Former Jesuit College

The Jesuits arrived in Poznan at the end of the 16th century and just a few years later they opened their first college which was granted academic privilege by King Sigismund III. The existing building was erected in the 18th century. Originally it was horseshoe-shaped but its eastern wing was enlarged in the middle of the 18th century creating a façade at Kolegiacki Square, and the courtyard was closed from the north with a 1-storey building with a gate, over which a tower was built. In the 19th century a small risalit with an entrance from the courtyard's side was added, and then at the beginning of the 20th century another building along Za Bramką Street. It once was linked with St Stanislaus' Chruch.

The college, nowadays housing Municipal Council, is covered with a gable roof and its elevations are decorated in Baroque and Neo-Baroque style. On the courtyard there is a statue "Maternity".

Górka Palace

Górka Palace

It is situated in the south-eastern corner of the Old Market Square. The original building was totally destroyed during World War II and reconstructed in 1960s. In its 17th and 18th-century forms, were uncovered Renaissance arcades on the patio. One of the few original elements is a richly ornamented Renaissance sandstone portal, leading to the patio from Klasztorna Street. The portal at Wodna Street is reconstructed.

The first building was erected in the 1540s, joining a few Gothic houses and adding Renaissance ornaments. The pride of the palace was a small cloister. Its owner supported Reformation, thus their residence became a local centre of Lutheranism. After the last Górka family member died the palace changed owners a few times and it finally became a city property, then it was sold to Benedictine Sisters. After the convent was liquidated in 1803, it was turned into a middle girls' school and at the end of the 19th century it was remodelled into a tenement house.

Today it houses the Archaeological Museum. It is one the oldest and biggest archaeological museums in Poland, established in 1857. It has permanent exhibitions showing Great Poland's pre-history and the beginning of Polish statehood.

Royal Castle

Royal Castle

The castle is situated on Przemysł Hill and its history dates back to 13th century. The construction was started by Great Poland's Prince Przemysł I. At that time outbuildings and a residential brick tower were probably built. As the city of Poznan developed, the castle stood within its fortification walls and was enlarged by Prince Przemysł II and his successors until the first half of the 14th century. It was the biggest secular building in Poland then, consisting of the tower, a pavilion 63m long, 17.5m wide and at least 9m tall, and of a defensive tower on the south side. After the fire in the 16th century the castle was rebuilt by starosta Andrzej Górka in Renaissance style. Subsequent destruction was brought by Swedish wars (the Swedish Deluge and Great Northern War). After the devastation the castle never returned to its magnificence. At the end of the 18th century Kazimierz Raczyński used the southern foundation to build a Classicial, hipped mansard-roofed seat of archive.

In the cellars and on the ground floor, are preserved medieval tunnel-vaulted rooms, and in the north-western wall there is a fragment of the city's fortification wall dating back to the end of the 13th century. At the entrance there is a plaque set in 1783 memorializing the building's construction by Kazimierz Raczyński. It was also rebuilt after World War II and today it houses the Museum of Functional Art.

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