A History of Poznan, Poland

By Tim Lambert

Early Poznan

Poznan began in the 9th century when a fortress was built on an island in the River Warta called Ostrow Tumski. By the 10th century, a settlement grew up nearby. A Bishopric was established in Poznan in 986.

In the 13th century, Poznan became a busy little market town. Poznan was given its charter in 1253. A new town with a market square was built on the left side of the Warta. Poznan Town Hall was first built in the late 13th century but it was rebuilt in the mid 16th century. The tower was added in the late 18th century.

In the Middle Ages Poznan thrived. Poznan benefited from being on trade routes from Russia to Western Europe. In 1519 Lubranski Academy was founded. the Jesuit College was founded in 1573. In the 16th century, like all towns, Poznan suffered outbreaks of plague. Even so by 1600 Poznan probably had a population of about 20,000. That may seem small to us but by the standards of the time, it was a very large town.

The Church of St Francis of Assisi was built in 1668 and The Franciscan Church was erected in the years 1674-1728. All Saints Church was built in 1786. Poznan Guardhouse was built in 1787.

However, in the 17th century and early 18th century, Poznan suffered in a series of wars. Poznan also suffered a terrible epidemic in 1708-09, which devastated the population.

Yet in the late 17th century and early 18th century, Parish Church was built. It was consecrated in 1705. Then in 1793, Poznan became part of Prussia. Because of its strategic situation on the edge of Prussian territory, Poznan was heavily fortified. However, under Prussian rule, Poznan thrived. In the 19th century, it industrialized. Meanwhile, Raczynski Library opened in 1829 and the National Museum in Poznan was founded in 1857.

Modern Poznan

Wilson Park opened to the public in 1902 and Grand Theatre opened in 1910. The Zamek or Imperial Castle was built in Poznan in 1910. However, in 1918 the people of Poznan rebelled against German rule. The Wielkopolska Uprising began in December and it ensured that after the First World War Poznan would be part of the newly independent Poland. Between the wars, Poznan grew rapidly. The Academy of Music opened in 1920. Frederic Chopin Park opened to the public in 1938.

However, in 1939 Germany invaded Poland. In February 1945 Poznan was severely damaged in the battle between them and the Russians.

Unfortunately, after World War II Poland did not become free. Instead, Communist tyranny was imposed on it. In 1956 angry about harsh economic conditions working people in Poznan demonstrated. The Communists opened fire on them killing many people. A monument to the victims of 1956 was unveiled in 1981.

On a more cheerful note, the Poznan Museum of Musical Instruments was established in 1945. Poznan Historical Museum opened in the Town Hall in 1954. The Museum of Military Weapons was established in 1963. The Archaeological Museum opened in the Gorka Palace in 1967. Poznan Dance Theater was founded in 1973. A New Zoo opened in Poznan in 1974. The Ethnographic Museum in Poznan was established in 1986 and Poznan Pharmacy Museum was founded in 1989. The Museum of the Poznan Uprising 1956 was founded in 2002 and Poznan Public Transport Museum opened in 2007.

Poznan is also an important shopping center. Stary Browar Shopping Centre opened in 2003 and Galeria Malta opened in 2009.

Today Poznan is a prosperous and flourishing city. In 2024 the population of Poznan was 540,000.

Last revised 2024