A photo essay of post-war modernism in Poznan

The centrally located Polish city of Poznan is a great place to see some interesting examples of post-war modernism architecture. Indeed, Poznan Tourism has put together a self-guided walking tour entitled Following the Modernism. The tour doesn’t take that long (about two hours at a leisurely pace) and most places of interest are not actually that far from the central Market Square which I hasten to add, in sharp contrast to the above style of architecture, is absolutely stunning but more on that another time.

Download Poznan Tourism’s suggested route as well as a map and an audio guide from their website, via the following links:

Following the Modernism walking route

Audio Guide and Map (the map is listed under related attachments)

Alternatively, if you are already in Poznan, you can go along to the Tourist Information Centre on Market Square and they will give you the information detailed on the website in brochure-form, as well as a printed copy of the map.

I’m not going to replicate the information on Poznan Tourism’s website in this blog post or indeed go into the history of modernist and postmodern architecture. There is an abundance of information on the web should you wish to read more about the subject, including arch daily and Wikipedia. Instead, I’m simply going to showcase some of the photographs that we took when we went on the same walking tour in the Spring of 2016.

It is worth noting that there are two examples of modernist architecture highlighted on Poznan Tourism’s website that are not part of the walking tour. These are the University School of Physical Education and the Arena Sports and Entertainment Hall (also known as the HWS Arena). We didn’t visit the former but we did take a tram to see the spaceship-style Arena Sports and Entertainment Hall, which is located about 1.5km west of Poznan’s main railway station in the northern end of Kasprowicza Park. If you are interested in seeing it, a good suggestion would be to break away from the walking tour at the Mercure Hotel. From this point, you can take a tram (number; 3, 5 8 or 14) partway along Glogowska Street, until Rynek Lazarski stop, and walk the rest of the distance to the monument by heading directly up Niegolewskich Street. The alternative is to walk there and back from the Mercure Hotel, a distance of 2km in each direction.

Alfa Retail and Office Complex

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The Arsenal on Market Square

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Collegium Novum

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Domar Department Store

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Jowita Dormitory

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Mercure Hotel (formerly Merkury)

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Okraglak (The Round House)

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TVs Residential and Shopping Complex

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Arena Sports and Entertainment Hall

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Is the tour worth the time and effort?

I guess the answer to this question depends on a) whether you like this style of architecture and b) how much time you have in Poznan. If you appreciate the style then definitely give this self-guided walking tour a go. With some of the buildings, namely the TVs Residential and Shopping Complex and the Jowita Dormitory, the accompanying description/history was more interesting for us than the structure itself but we were certainly impressed with the design of the Okraglak (The Round House) and the Alfa Retail and Office Complex. We also thought it was worth detouring from the walking route to see the Arena Sports and Entertainment Hall, although in our opinion it looks more Soviet-era than modernist!

If your time in Poznan is limited then you should definitely dedicate the bulk of it to exploring the main square and the surrounding old town. We also thought that Ostrow Tumski (Cathedral Island) was a nice spot to while away a couple of hours and overall, a more enjoyable use of any additional time. That said, if you still find yourself lacking for something to do (don’t forget coffee/beer drinking and people-watching time in Market Square!), the above tour will certainly fill an hour to two and at the very least you will get to see a different side of the city. And who knows, you may even end up becoming a convert to postmodernist architecture!

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