The residence started to be built in the mid-13th century by the Great Poland prince Przemysł I. Most probably the first structures built were an inhabited tower and farm buildings surrounded by a wooden pale. Later the princely residence was included inside the medieval city walls. There was also a wall that separated it from the town. Around 1290 prince Przemysł II started to expand the structure intending to make it in the future a royal castle. The king's tragic demise in 1296 did not stop the work.
The castle was finished in the first half of the 14th century, most certainly during the reign of Casimir the Great. At that time it was the largest secular structure in the land. Next to the tower with the living quarters rose a massive building measuring 63 by 17.5 metres and at least 9 metres high. To the south it was adjoined by a tall defence tower. From the times of Wladyslaw the Elbow - High the castle was the residence of governor - generals of Great Poland. The Gothic structure was burnt down during the fire of the city in 1536. It was rebuilt in a Renaissance form by governor Andrzej Górka. The Swedish Deluge and the Northern War brought more destruction. In 1716 for the first time in its history the castle was stormed. The destroyed buildings were partially rebuilt in 1721, but by then the castle had fallen into visible decline.
In 1783 the last governor general of Great Poland, and at the same time president of the Poznań Good Order Committee, Kazimierz Raczyński erected an archive building upon the foundations of the southern part of the castle and partially using its walls. It was designed by Antoni Höhne. Later it was extended by workshops. After the second partition of Poland the building first housed the Prussian regency, then the appeal court, then after 1885 the state archives.
In 1945 most buildings on Przemysł Hill were destroyed. During reconstruction, carried out between 1959-64, only the edifice built by K. Raczyński was restored. Today it houses the Museum of Applied Arts.
The castle hosted many sovereigns. Among those who liked to stay here were Casimir the Great, Wladyslaw Jagiello and Casimir the Jagiellonian. King Jan Olbracht lived here for almost a year and it was here that in 1493 he received the homage from the grand master of the Teutonic Knights, Johann von Tiefen. Two royal weddings took place at the castle: that between Waclaw II and the daughter of Przemysl II, Ryksa in 1300 and that of Casimir the Great with the Hesse princess Adelaide. While Sigismund the Old was staying here for many months in 1513 his wife queen Barbara Zapoyla gave birth to their daughter Jadwiga. Another curious fact is that from 1398 to 1400 the castle burg Graf was Przecław Słota, the author of The Bread Table Poem (better known under the title Poem on Table Manners), the oldest secular poem written in the Polish language.
The 18th century building has modest classicist features. It is covered by a mansard - type hip roof. Medieval barrel vaulting with lunettes have been preserved in the vaults and on the ground floor. In the outside northwest wall there is a fragment of the old city wall from the end of the 13th century (it can be seen well from the Wielkopolski Square). Next to the entrance there is a plaque put here in 1783 to commemorate the reconstruction of the edifice by K. Raczyński. There are also two more recent plaques, one from 1996 commemorating the coronation of Przemyslaw II and one from 1993 celebrating 500 years of the Teutonic grand master's homage.