After a hearty breakfast in our hotel we took Tram 3 to Citadel Park in the Kmieca district, just north of the city centre. There had been a light sprinkling of snow overnight which had given the park a winter wonderland like appearance. The park sits on Winiary Hill covering 89 hectares and was a former military stronghold. Nowadays it’s an urban oasis centred around its 19th century fort, military museums and fountains.
About a 20 minute walk from the park entrance stands the Museum of Poznan Army located in a casemate passageway.
This small museum contains items related to the city’s military history with a particular focus on the Second World War. Exhibits include a Polish soldier’s uniform, equipment and weapons together with a display of several battlefield scenes. Entrance PLN10 or free with the Poznan Card.
A short walk then took us alongside the Bell of Peace and Friendship and located near there lies the park’s second military museum, this one being the Museum of Armaments. Another small but interesting museum, it is housed in the remains of a Prussian fort which was used as a war laboratory to produce gunpowder and shells during the Second World War.
The museum features displays of weapons and ammunition with tanks, a Katyusha rocket launcher and a MIG-15 on display outdoors. A primary school party were just leaving and we managed to dodge their snowball fight whilst examining the exhibits. Entrance PLN12 or free with the Poznan Card.
Leaving the park by a different entrance we returned to the city centre by tram so that we could visit two more of Poznan’s museums. The first of these was located in the Imperial Castle (Zamek). The castle is of Neo-Romanesque style and used as Government offices.
We’d come to visit the 1956 Uprising Museum (included in Poznan Card) but it took us awhile to find the actual entrance as it was hidden away around one side of the building, with the museum located down a flight of steps in the basement.
Once we had found our way inside, we enjoyed exploring the galleries as they were set out as a 1950’s apartment, a typical street scene, a prison cell and a courtroom. The exhibition covers the history of the first mass protests by Poznán workers in communist Poland and displays photos, recorded memoirs and related memorabilia.
The newly opened Enigma Cipher Centre (PLN20 and discounted with Poznan Card) was located nearby and I think we had saved the best to last as we found this museum to be even more interesting. The museum tells the story of the breaking of the Enigma Code which commenced in Poznán and emphasises the work of the three men who contributed to this process.
We took a self-guided audio tour and on our way around attempted lots of hands-on activities and puzzles which helped familiarise us with the art of ciphering and decoding. We learnt how the discoveries of these Polish mathematicians influenced the history of World War II and the ways in which this connected with the work of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park in the United Kingdom.
After leaving the museum, we caught a tram to Rynek Jezycki, a hipster neighbourhood famous for its beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, cafes and bars. We soon found a cosy restaurant called Zuraw, where we called in for a very late lunch. It was definitely worth waiting for as we both ordered mushroom soup which tasted absolutely divine and was up with the best we had ever eaten.
After exploring this arty district and wandering around its outdoor market where locals where busy selecting Christmas trees and taking home holly wreaths to adorn their front doors, we returned to our hotel for a short rest.
An hour or so later, and feeling refreshed with a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits we were ready for a spot of retail therapy so we headed to the Stary Browar shopping centre just a ten minute walk from the hotel.
This retail centre has been painstakingly restored in keeping with its former home as a brewery, which was in existence between the years of 1876 and 1980. Here we found over 200 shops, restaurants and cafes to suit all tastes, galleries and a cinema complex. It was the perfect place to pick up a few Christmas gifts and we were then spoilt for choice deciding where to eat.
As with our previous two evenings in Poznán, we couldn’t resist rounding off our evening back at the Bethlehem Christmas Market which looked just like a Christmas card with its blanket of fresh snow adding to the charm. On offer at the market were mugs of both red and white mulled wine and opinions were divided as I preferred red whilst my son was a fan of the white and he wondered why this wasn’t readily available in the U.K. A choir were performing on the stage and it felt really festive listening to their melodic voices from the balcony of the cosy cabin bar whilst sipping our drinks.
Eventually we managed to drag ourselves away and leave the twinkling fairy lights behind. It had started snowing again and we enjoyed wandering back to the hotel cosily wrapped up in our warm coats, hats and scarfs as the fresh flakes of snow stuck to our clothes. Back in our hotel room we were soon tucked up in bed and sound asleep after another fun filled day exploring Poznan.
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