Old Market Square

The central square of the city established in 1253 on the left bank of the Warta River was designed on the base of a square with four 141 - metre sides.

In terms of size, the square is the third biggest in Poland, losing only to the squares in Krakow and Wrocław.

Each side of the square has three streets running out of it, dividing its sides into two sections with eight 35-43 metre long, 7-8 metre wide plots.

Of the twelve streets starting at the square, four (Wrocławska, Wroniecka, Wielka and Wodna) used to lead to the city gates.

The square was to be built up with administrative and commercial edifices. Soon after the creation of the city, the town hall, the Municipal Scales and market stalls were built.

Originally the structures built both in and around the square were made of wood. However, as soon as in the end of the 13th century brick buildings began to appear: the Municipal Scales, the Gothic town hall, and in the 14th century the cloth hall.

In the first half of the 16th century a complex of small houses, called the merchants' houses, was built by the merchants who owned the individual plots.

In the 17th century, the bread market was moved next to the Municipal Scales and in their place the arsenal was built. Next came the guardhouse in the late 18th century.

These buildings were repeatedly destroyed, rebuilt and modified and were finally restored to their original form (except for the arsenal and the cloth hall) after 1945.

The speed with which the wooden structures were phased out increased after the great fire in 1471. The houses around the square were built with initially two and later three rows of rooms, with their gables facing the square. They were used as lodgings, but served also as workshops and stores.

On the ground floor, as you entered the building from the square, there was the so - called "grand hall" used for commercial and representative purposes. In the back, separated from the house by a small yard, was a small building used as storehouse and workshop.

With time there were more and more departures from this initially uniform arrangement, as in the case of the palaces built by the wealthy, noble families of the Działyńskis and the Mielżyńskis in the 18th century. There were more changes in the 19th century and in the early 20th century.

Following the devastation wreaked during the liberation of Poznań in 1945, when 60% of all the buildings in the square were destroyed, including 80 buildings gutted by fire, reconstruction began in the very same year.

The work, carried out in accordance with meticulously drawn up conservation plans, aimed to restore the square to its former splendour. In the 1950's the arsenal and the cloth halls made way for modern looking exhibition pavilions.

After 1945 the Old Market Square lost its predominantly commercial character, becoming instead a residential area with many cultural institutions. Some of the shops on the ground floor were kept, often to sell souvenirs.

In the 1970's many fashionable bars, cafes and restaurants were opened. After 1990 the square saw the arrival of offices of several banks and even more eateries.

Between 1880 and 1955 there used to be trams running across the square. Traffic of all vehicles was gradually reduced and eventually in 1970 the square became closed to any traffic, with the exception of special permit holders.

In the second half of the 19th century the square was equipped with water and gas installations and illuminated by gas lighting. Early in the next century an underground electrical network was constructed. In the late 19th century the surface of the square was replaced. The present paving is a result of a general renovation carried out in the late 1960's.

Every June the square is home to a lively street fair (Jarmark Świętojański), and throughout the summer it features many cultural events including some performances of Malta Theatre Festival.

In the summer months many bars set up beer gardens in the square, where you can drink as much coffee or beer as you want and make yourself familiar with Polish cuisine! There is neverending party on the square! Join it!

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