Wielkopolska, located in central-west Poland, is the country's oldest province, with countless monuments from the formative years of the Polish state. This region offers plenty of attractions for tourists. Its cities, towns and villages are rich with treasures: old manor houses and stately homes which once belonged to eminent noble families, magnificent mansions and castles, churches, open-air museums of traditional folk architecture, and archaeological parks (see: Biskupin). The most popular cities are: Poznan, Kornik, Wolsztyn, Gniezno, Kalisz, Ostrow Wielkopolski, Leszno, Lichen.
The region's capital is Poznan, a historic city which attracts the biggest crowds of tourists (as well as visitors to the international trade fairs). This is where the Piast Route begins,coversplaces that were the political and ecclesiastical centres of Poland under its first royal dynasty a thousand years ago. Other towns worth seeing are Kornik near Poznan, with a castle and grounds; Gniezno, Poland's first capital; and Biskupin, with a reconstructed fortified Iron Age village discovered in the early 20th century. And if you seek nature rather thanof the past, you'll find both lakes and forests here, along with a variety of opportunities for relaxation.
Poznan a charming Old City, fine architecture, delightful nooks, bustling student hangouts and a profusion of pubs, clubs and cafes offering you all kinds of night entertainment.
Poznan the region's biggest city. A thousand years ago it was one of the main centres on the map of the emerging Polish state, as the royal seat and a cathedral town. The oldest part of the city is Ostrow Tumski, an island on the Warta River. When you go over the bridge linking it with the rest of the city, you seem to be crossingimmaterial border separatingplace offthe busy andmodern Poznan island holds the 13th-15th century Cathedral, built on the site of an Early Romanesque church (late 9th century). It is here that Poland's first princes, Duke Mieszko I and King Boleslaus I, are buried.
But the heart of Poznan its Stary Rynek (the market-place in the Old City). Enclosed by old, mostly 15th-century town houses with restored fasades and brightly illuminated at night, it is the city's showcase. Crowded and busy at almost any time of the day, it has always been a place for commerce. The houses around theare occupied by offices and banks neighbouringrestaurants and cafes that stay open until the wee hours of the morning. The adjoining streets are lined with antique shops, galleries and craft shops.
The most outstanding building in the market-place is the Town Hall, which aspires to the title of most beautiful secular Renaissancein Central Europe. Erected in the mid-16th century, it replaced an older building from the late 13th century;the 61-m tower is a later addition (its 17th-century predecessor was 90 m high). At night the Town Hall is brightly illuminated. Every noon, tourists gather outside to see the famous clockwork goats that butt their horns together. The first pair of these metal animals appeared in 1551; the most recent ones were installed in 1993. Another of Poznan big attractionsis Lake Maltanskie - an artificial 65-ha reservoir with a renowned water-sports centre (it has one of Europe's best regatta tracks and in 1990 it played host to the World Championships in Canoeing). Nearby is the all-year-round Malta-Ski centre, a toboggan run and - inevitably - a bathing place. Just a few steps away is the New Zoo (Poznan the only city in Poland that boasts two zoos), one of the biggest and prettiest in the country, priding itself on keeping the animals in conditions similar to their natural habitat.
The following items may be imported into Poland without incurring customs duty:
250 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 3 litres of alcoholic beverages and an unlimited amount of money but the sum of money must be declared at the customs control.
It is forbidden to bring to Poland: any goods that could destroy the natural
environment, pornographic materials and drugs.
The export of antiques, works of art and certain other items from Poland is prohibited.
A customs declaration must be presented at the border.
You are allowed to bring in $100 worth of souvenirs duty free.
Poland's national currency is the straight-forward zloty (PLN). One zloty equals 100 groszy.
Banknotes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 zloty and there are 1, 2 and 5 zloty, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 groszy coins in circulation.
Foreign currency can be exchanged at the airport, hotels, banks and exchange offices (kantor). Many hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and larger shops accept American Express, MasterCard and Visa cards. ATMs are widespread. Loss or theft of credit cards such as Diners Club, EuroCard, JCB, MasterCard, PolCard and Visa should be reported to PolCard tel. 301 41 55/ 346 30 11.
The crime rate in Poznan is no different than any other major city in Europe.
On the whole, the level of violent crime is low, but remember that you are
in a relatively big city and act accordingly.
For example, scamsters will sometimes try to get you to exchange foreign currency on the street, and then give you counterfeit bills or a bad rate. Never change money on the street!!!
The best time to visit Poland is between May and September when it tends to be
warm and sunny. September is the beginning of an exceptionally fine spell known
as "golden Polish autumn". Almost every year, mid-September sees the coming of Polish "Indian summer", which is a warm and sunny transition between summer and autumn.
The average temperature in September ranges from 5-7oC at night to 15-20oC during the day.
The winds in Poland are weak to moderate, their speed ranging from 2 to 10 m/s.
Given the highly variable climate here, it is a good idea to bring along a pocket umbrella; a sunny morning can quickly turn into a rainy afternoon.