Former Jesuits College

The college - or a monastic house where part of the friars devoted their time to educating young people - was founded in Poznań in 1570. One year later the first Jesuits came to town. The College was opened in 1573; one of its founders and the first rector was Father Jakub Wujek. The school boasted high academic standards.

In 1611 king Sigismund III Vasa granted the Jesuits a privilege that elevated the school to the rank of university. However, following a protest from the Krakow Academy, Pope Paul V vetoed the creation of the new institution of higher learning.

Between 1678-85, by the power of a privilege granted by John III Sobieski, the college had the right to issue academic degrees in the areas of philosophy and theology. The Jesuits possessed an impressive library; they had their own printing house since 1677 (it is known to have produced 630 titles) and ran a school theatre. The closure of the Jesuit order in 1773 did not interrupt the activities of the school; from 1780 it existed as Great Poland Academy, then (until 1793) as the Poznań Faculty School.

The college as it is today was built in the 18th century. The edifice was designed by Jan Catenazzi and its construction started in 1703. Barely had the foundations been laid when the Northern War broke out. Construction was only completed between 1722-32. Originally the building had the shape of a horseshoe. In the middle of the 18th century one of its arms was extended all the way to the wing situated by the side of today's Kolegiacki Square. Around the same time, the yard was closed from the north with a two-storey building with a gate, over which a tower was built.

In the 19th century a low landing was built with an entry from the side of the courtyard, and at the beginning of the 20th century the building along Za Bramką Street was added.

After the closure of the college, the buildings housed various Prussian offices, including the regency of the Grand Duchy of Poznań. Between 1815-1830 they were the residence of the Duchy's governor, Duke Antoni Radziwił. In the Duke's salon played Frederic Chopin in 1828.

In the autumn of 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte lived here. Between the wars the buildings housed the authorities of the voivodship. Today it houses the City Council.

The massive four-storey edifice is covered with a two-tiered roof. All its elevations, regardless of when they were built, are decorated in the same Baroque and neo-Baroque style. In the years 1995-1998 the structure was renovated and its interiors modernized. In the west the buildings were adjacent to St Stanislaus the Bishop's Church.

On the other side of Gołębia Street there is a Baroque building of the former Jesuit school built in the middle of the 18th century. Its four-storey wings surround a small courtyard. Until 1858 this was St Mary Magdalene's Grammar School. Today the building houses a State Ballet School. A commemorative plaque on one of the walls informs that the troupe of Wojciech Stanisławski performed here for the first time in Poznań in 1783.

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