Poznan | Poland
Poznań is among the oldest and largest cities in Poland. The city population is about 550,000, while the continuous conurbation with Poznań County and several other communities is inhabited by almost 1.1 million people. The Larger Poznań Metropolitan Area (PMA) is inhabited by 1.3–1.4 million people and extends to such satellite towns as Nowy Tomyśl, Gniezno and Września, making it the fourth largest metropolitan area in Poland. It is the historical capital of the Greater Poland region and is currently the administrative capital of the province called Greater Poland Voivodeship.
Poznań is a centre of trade, sports, education, technology and tourism. It is an important academic site, with about 130,000 students and the Adam Mickiewicz University - the third largest Polish university. Poznań is also the seat of the oldest Polish diocese, now being one of the most populous archdioceses in the country. The city also hosts the Poznań International Fair – the biggest industrial fair in Poland and one of the largest fairs in Europe. The city's most renowned landmarks include Poznań Town Hall, the National Museum, Grand Theatre, Poznań Cathedral and the Imperial Castle.
Poznań has often topped rankings as a city with very high quality of education and a very high standard of living. It also ranks highly in safety and healthcare quality. The city of Poznań has also won many times a prize awarded by "Superbrands" for a very high quality city brand. Poznań was classified in 2012 as high sufficiency city by Globalization and World Cities Research Network. In 2012, the Poznań's Art and Business Center "Stary Browar" won a competition organised by National Geographic Traveller and was given the first prize as one of the seven "New Polish Wonders".
The official patron saints of Poznań are Saint Peter and Paul of Tarsus, the patrons of the cathedral. Martin of Tours – the patron of the main street Święty Marcin is also regarded as one of patron saints of the city.
In the second half of the 17th century and most of the 18th, Poznań was severely affected by a series of wars (and attendant military occupations, lootings and destruction) – the Second and Third Northern Wars, the War of the Polish Succession, the Seven Years' War and the Bar Confederation rebellion. It was also hit by frequent outbreaks of plague, and by floods, particularly that of 1736, which destroyed most of the suburban buildings. The population of the conurbation declined (from 20,000 around 1600 to 6,000 around 1730), and Bambergian and Dutch settlers (Bambrzy and Olędrzy) were brought in to rebuild the devastated suburbs. In 1778 a "Committee of Good Order" (Komisja Dobrego Porządku) was established in the city, which oversaw rebuilding efforts and reorganised the city's administration. However, in 1793, in the Second Partition of Poland, Poznań, came under the control of the Kingdom of Prussia, becoming part of (and initially the seat of) the province of South Prussia.
Due to the expulsion and flight of German population Poznań's post-war population was almost uniformly Polish. The city again became a voivodeship capital; in 1950 the size of Poznań Voivodeship was reduced, and the city itself was given separate voivodeship status. This status was lost in the 1975 reforms, which also significantly reduced the size of Poznań Voivodeship.
The Poznań 1956 protests are seen as an early instance of discontent with communist rule. In June 1956, a protest by workers at the city's Cegielski locomotive factory developed into a series of strikes and popular protests against the policies of the government. After a protest march on 28 June was fired on, crowds attacked the communist party and secret police headquarters, where they were repulsed by gunfire. Riots continued for two days until being quelled by the army; 67 people were killed according to official figures. A monument to the victims was erected in 1981 at Plac Mickiewicza.
The post-war years had seen much reconstruction work on buildings damaged in the fighting. From the 1960s onwards intensive housing development took place, consisting mainly of pre-fabricated concrete blocks of flats, especially in Rataje and Winogrady, and later (following its incorporation into the city in 1974) Piątkowo. Another infrastructural change (completed in 1968) was the rerouting of the river Warta to follow two straight branches either side of Ostrów Tumski.
Poznań has been an important trade centre since the Middle Ages. Starting in the 19th century, local heavy industry began to grow. Several major factories were built, including the Hipolit Cegielski steel mill and railway factory (see H. Cegielski - Poznań S.A.).
Nowadays Poznań is one of the major trade centres in Poland. Poznań is regarded as the second most prosperous city in Poland after Warsaw. The city of Poznań produced PLN 31.8 billion of Poland's gross domestic product in 2006. It boasts a GDP per capita of 200,4% (2008) of Poland's average. Furthermore, Poznań had very low unemployment rate of 2.3% as of May 2009. For comparison, Poland's national unemployment rate was over 10%.
Many Western European companies have established their Polish headquarters in Poznań or in the nearby towns of Tarnowo Podgórne and Swarzędz. Most foreign investors are German and Dutch companies (see List of corporations in Poznań), with a few others. Investors are mostly from the food processing, furniture, automotive and transport and logistics industries. Foreign companies are primarily attracted by low labour costs and by the relatively good road and railway network, good vocational skills of workers and relatively liberal employment laws.
Poznań also stages the "Ale Kino!" International Young Audience Film Festival in December and "Off Cinema" festival of independent films. Other festival: "Transatlantyk" (film music festival by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek started in 2011), Maski Theater Festival, Dance International Workshops by Polish Dance Theater, Made in Chicago (Jazz Festival), Ethno Port, Festival of Ice Sculpture, Animator, Science and Art Festival, Tzadik (Jewish music festival), Meditations Biennale (Modern Art). The full list of cultural annual events is even longer.
Poznań has several cinemas, including multiplexes and smaller cinemas, an opera house, several other theatres, and museums. The "Rozbrat" squat serves as a home for squatters and as a centre of independent and open-minded culture. It hosts frequent gigs, an anarchistic library, vernissages, exhibitions, annual birthday festival (each October), poetry evenings and graffiti festivals. The city centre has many clubs, pubs and coffee houses, mainly in the area of the Old Town.