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Greater Poland

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Greater Poland (in Polish Wielkopolska) is a lake district in west-central Poland in the Voivodship (province) Wielkopolskie Voivodship.


Regions

Climate

Climate in the Greater Poland is much milder than everage in Poland and much milder than expected by most of the visitors, who join Poland with siberian frosts. In fact : severe frosts (minus 10-15C) last in the region no more than 10-12 days yearly, there hasn't been for a few years a seriously lasting snow cover - it's mostly snow incovnenient from slegde, not to mention skiing. Spring is usually short, quickly turning into pretty warm summer. In June, July and August expect quite high temperatures (reaching even 30-32C) and periods of drought. Autumn can be both rainy and foggy (so suitable for guests from the UK) and sunny and mild (16-18C).

Cities

  • Gniezno – one of the capitals in 10th – 11th cent (together with Poznań and Ostrów Lednicki) with the oldest archcathedral (from the year 1000), famous for its chapels and bronze Gniezno Door from 12th century, a modern and interactive Museum of the Beginnings of Poland, picturesquely situated between lakes
  • Gołuchów with a beautiful renessaince castle and the aurochs stockyard
  • Kalisz – the oldest city in Poland, mentioned in Roman cronicles already in 2nd cent.
  • Klodawa - with the biggest operating salt mine in Poland
  • Kórnik
  • Leszno
  • Lichen - with the largest church in Poland, the Sanctuary of Our Lady
  • Ostrów Lednicki – remnants of the Duke’s palace (palatium) and a fortress from the early history of Poland together with 2 preserved baptism bowls from 960s.
  • Poznań – the capital of the region, the 5th biggest city in Poland with history going back to the end of 9the century, full of monuments from all epoques, including the oldest polish church (and the oldest cathedral) from 960s, beautiful gothic – renessaince – baroque Old Town and bulings from the turn 19/20th cent erected by Prussians and creating so called Emperor’s District. As well known as Poland’s second biggest banking centre, famous for ist International Fairs and sport events.
  • Szamotuły
  • Swarzedz with the only bee-keeping museum in Poland
  • Wągrowiec
  • Wolsztyn – a town in south-western part of the region, world-famous for its working steam trains depot, which is the only opened one in Europe. Besides the town offers wonderful lakes, an open-air museum showing building from Greater Poland and a Robert Koch Museum (TC discovery), who lived for most of his life here.


Understand

Originally, during the first decades of the Polish state teh region was called "Poland" ("Polska" in polish; the name comes drom the word "pole" - a field, which means, that the tribe (Polans - in polish "Polanie") forming the Polish state was an agicultural one. The name was transferred into "Wielkopolska" - "Greater Poland" later on, during the reign of Przemysl II at the end of XIIIth century. Nevertheless the region was the craddle of Poland - here the first cities were founded, the first capitals : Gniezno, Poznan, Ostrów Lednicki are as well in Wielkopolska.

When in 1138 Poland was divided in duchies united by the rule of the senior, Greater Poland became on independent duchy, and vfew decades later there were two small states with capitals in Poznan and Kalisz - for most of the time Gniezno - the third biggest city in the region at that time belonged to the Kalisz duchy. Greater Poland was also a core of the restoring of the kingdom in 1295 and fro short time became again the capital of Poland, as the king Przemysl II origined from the Greater Poland branch of the Piast dynasty.

In the period between XVth and XVIIth centuries, when many war affected central and eastern Poland, the Greater Poland was an oasis of peace, that helped to grow and expand the cities and all the region. Most of Wielkopolska territories was incorporated into the Prussian state during the second Partition in 1793; the region was a part of Prussian state or German Empire till 1919, when a succesful Wielkopolska Uprising (27.12.1918 - June 1919) let join the reborn Poland. The region was occupied by Nazi German from mid-September 1939 till spring 1945. Now most of the historical territories of Wielkopolska belong to Wielkopolska voivodship (province), but some : to Kujawsko-Pomorskie and West Pomeranian Voivodship

Now the region is known for its high agicultural culture, for being (especially Poznan the business and fair heart of Poland and for many historical sights from both first co-capitals and other places.

Get in

By plane

The main (and in terms of passenger traffic) airport in the region is Poznan airport Lawica, situated very close (7 km {4 mi}) from the city centre, offering connections to more than 20 destinations across Europe, including e.g.: London, Frankfurt, Munich, Dublin, Rome, Oslo, Berlin, Stockholm, Malmo, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Edinburgh. If your region is not connected by plane with Poznan, you can try other airports in surrounding Polish regions: to Wroclaw (Breslau), Bydgoszcz or even Warsaw, which has very good train connection with Poznan. Up-to-date flight schedule [1] at Poznan Lawica Airport.

By train

Region has very good connections with most other polish regions as well as some cities abroad. Its main (what doesn't mean, that's the only one) rail junction is Poznan, offering many inter-city and international connections:

  • Berlin : 4 times a day BWE (Berlin-Warsaw-Express) train - travel time ca 3 hrs and one overnight express from Berlin to Warsaw calling in Pila - good for those travelling to the north of the region
  • Kiev : 1 daily, ca 22 hrs
  • Munich, Amsterdam, Basel, Koeln, Innsbruck : 1 EuroNight train daily
  • Warsaw : more than 15 daily, a little bit less on weekend days, mostly InterCity, EuroCity or express trains (ca 3 hrs)
  • Szczecin : 10-12 daily (only fast and express trains) (2hrs10) and two accelerated trains (2hrs30)
  • seaside resorts : Kołobrzeg / Koszalin / Słupsk : up to 8 daily (in summer season), including 2 slow trains (appr. 5hrs)
  • Gdansk (calling at Gniezno, Inowrocław, Bydgoszcz) : 6-8 daily (only fast trains - appr. 5hrs30) + 2 slow trains to Bydgoszcz (appr. 3hrs)
  • Olsztyn (calling at Gniezno, Torun) : 3 daily (only fast trains - 5hrs)
  • Lodz : 6 daily, mostly slow trains (4hrs30)
  • Kraków (Cracow) (mostly calling at Wrocław, Opole, Katowice) : up to 10 daily (7hrs), including 4 going further to Przemyśl (appr. 11hrs)
  • Katowice - up to 12 daily (a bit more than 5hrs)
  • Wrocław (calling at Leszno) : more than 20 daily. A great choice of slow, accelerated, fast and express trains (from 2 to 3 hrs)
  • mountain resorts in Sudety Mountains : Szklarska Poręba : up to 4 daily, Kudowa Zdrój - as well 4 daily (6 hrs)
  • famous mountain resort in Tatra Mountains - Zakopane - 2 overnight trains in summer and winter season (10 hrs)

Get around

By train

Trains are the basic mean of transport in the region. The main i and the most important junction is of course Poznan, but regional centres : Leszno, Ostrow Wielkopolski and Pila offer as well many good connections. The most important line in the region is the one from Warsaw via Konin, Wrzesnia, Poznan toward the western border and further to Berlin. Other lines playing great role in the transport system are :

  • Szczecin (Stettin) - Poznan - Leszno - Wrocław (Breslau)
  • from the seaside (Kolobrzeg - Kolberg, Koszalin, Slupsk via Pila - Poznań - Jarocin - Ostrów Wielkopolski i further to southern Poland to Katowice (Katowitz) or to Lodz via Kalisz
  • from Three-City (Gdansk - Danzig, Sopot, Gdynia) and from Olsztyn (Allenstein) via Inowrocław - Gniezno do Poznania
  • from Bydgoszcz via Pila to Krzyz and further via Gorzow Wielkopolskie (Landsberg) to Berlin
  • from Ostrow Wielkopolski along the southernmost parts of the region to Leszno and further to Glogow

The network of main lines is supplemented by local ones with several connections daily :

  • Pila - Walcz (6)
  • Pila - Zlotow - Chojnice (5 to 6)
  • Poznan - Wągrowiec - Gołańcz (7 to 9)
  • Poznań - Grodzisk Wielkopolski - Wolsztyn (8 to 10)
  • Gniezno - Września - Jarocin - Krotoszyn (and further Wrocław) (3 to 5)
  • Jarocin - Leszno (4)
  • Ostrów Wielkopolski - Krotoszyn - Leszno (5 to 8)
  • Leszno - Wolsztyn (5 to 7)
  • so-called coal-magistral in the easternmost parts of Wielkopolska, but - as it joins not-touristic places - is play very little role for travellers.

Several trains on the routes from Wolsztyn to Poznan (departures from Wolsztyn appr. 5:30 and appr. 11:30, and from Poznan appr. 9:30 and 15:30) and from Wolsztyn to Leszno (departure from Wolsztyn appr. 6:00, back from Leszno appr. 15:30) are served - as the only ones in Poland - by steam locomotives. (Departures are given "appr." because of frequent timetable changes, which are the result of many track-works, especially in the Poznan juction).

It's essential to mention as well about narrow-gauged railways - some of them are used only for weekend and tourist traffic, but in the region we have the first independent from the nationl carrier (PKP) and private line : 23-km section from Stare Bojanowo (on the Poznan-Wrocław line) via Smigiel to Wielichowo. Every day more than 10 trains run on the route. Timetable : [2] (the carrier's - SKPL's - trains run as well on the other lines in the region : see below). As well narrow-gauged trains run on the following routes :

  • Środa Wielkopolska - Zaniemyśl
  • Pleszew - Pleszew Miasto (SKPL)
  • Opatówek - Turek (SKPL)
  • Gniezno - Witkowo
  • Bialosliwie region (nearby Pila)
  • a small part of the Krośniewice Commuter Line crosses Wielkopolska region (SKPL)

See

The pearls of the region are firts co-capitals (plural!!) of Poland from Xth-XIth cent with many monument referring to the beginnings of the Polish State :

  • Two most important centres of the first Poland : Gniezno and Poznań
  • other, which used to be very important in early middle ages, nowadays - small villages : Giecz (40 kms eastwards from Poznań) and Ostrów Lednicki – on the way from Poznań to Gniezno.

Other bigger cities worth spending and least few hours in each are :

Smaller towns with interesting monuments, events and traditions :

  • Kórnik (18 kms south-east from Poznan) wit a neogothic castle with wonderful interions and furniture and a dendrological park and - last bu not least - with an extremely precious Library with manuscripts dating back to XIIIth centuy
  • Rogalin (16 kms to the south from the city) with a baroque-klasicistic palace and its famous paiting collection of Raczynski family, horse cabs and very famous oaks (in total : more than 500), including three well-knows trees : Lech, Czech i Rus.
  • Puszczykowo (15 kms to the south very easily accessible by train) - a very interesting travel museum of a polish traveller Arkady Fedler, the seat of the management of Greater-Poland National Park with a nature museum.
  • Swarzędz (just out of the city limits to the east, toward Warsaw) - a small city famous for the unique in Poland (and one of few in Europe) bee-keeping open-air museums.
  • Nowy Tomysl with the biggest basket of the world and the Basketry Museum
  • Szamotuly - a town 35kms NW of Poznan with an incredible Icon Museum, Halszka Tower and collegiate church

In Greater Poland it's worth sometimes to drive out of main roads to see e.g. :

  • palaces in Dobrzyca, Śmiełów, Gołuchów or Antonin
  • Szreniawa (15 kms to the south-west) - famous for the Agriculture Museum and the Bierbaums-family viewing tower
  • Kazimierz Biskupi near by Konin with an old romanesque church
  • Kłodawa with the biggest working salt mine in Poland
  • Tarnowo Pałuckie with the oldest wooden church in the country
  • Wełna with a unique water mills museum situated on a popular canoe trail along Wełna river

Another thing interesting for history-lovers can be the Greater-Poland part of the Cistersian Route. In the region the main places on the route are : Wągrowiec, Lekno (where the first cistersian monastery on polish territorries was erected), Owinska - all three north-east of Poznań and Przemet, Obra and Wielen in the south-west part of the region, nearby Wolsztyn. Another monastery was placed in Lad - 70 kms east of Poznan, just next to motorway A2.

Another thing interesting for history-lovers can be the Greater-Poland part of the Cistersian Route. In the region the main places on the route are : Wagrowiec, Lekno (where the first cistersian monastery on polish territorries was erected), Owinska - all three north-east of Poznan and Przemet, Obra and Wielen in the south-west part of the region, nearby Wolsztyn. Another monastery was placed in Lad - 70 kms east of Poznan, just next to motorway A2. More info about Cistersian in Greater Poland (in English) : [3]

Do

Greater Poland has a lot to offer for all train-lovers. First : the regions owes the steam-engine depot in Wolsztyn, which is the only one operating in Poland. More : daily there are several regular courses (so not tourist trains) from Wolsztyn to Poznań aln Leszno. More (in English) : [4]


Besides the region offers the biggest number of operating narrow gauge railways :

  • Stare Bojanowo - Smigiel - Wielichowo (SKPL)
  • Sroda Wielkopolska - Zaniemysl
  • Pleszew - Pleszew Miasto (SKPL)
  • Opatowek - Turek (SKPL)
  • Gniezno - Witkowo [5]
  • and nearby Bialosliwie (Piła region) mailto:zarzad@twkp.most.org.pl

The railways marked above are owned by SKPL company, which is the first private rail operator in Poland. More informations (Polish only) can be found :[6]. Both SKPL and other operators can organise (on request) special trains for groups.

Another thing to do is active tourism, which is very easy to do in the region. Greater Poland is known very well for its network of cycle trails :

  • The One-Hundred-Lakes Trails leading from Poznań north west to the Miedzychod-Sierakow Lake District
  • The Piast Trails from Poznań through Ostrów Lednicki, Gniezno to Mogilno and to Kruszwica in the neighbouring Kujawy region.
  • The trans-wielkopolska trail from the northernmost parts of the region nortf of Pila to Poznań
  • The trans-wielkopolska trail from Poznań, through Jarocin, Gołuchów, Kalisz to picturesque Ostrzeszow Hills in the south of Greater Poland
  • The Nobility trail – linking many preserved palaces of nobility families in the central and southern parts of the region, starting in Mosina (18km south of Poznań) leadind south through Leszno to Rawicz
  • The Amber trail – linking touristic places in the east of Wielkopolska from Kalisz to Konin
  • The Warta trail – from Poznań more or less exactly along Warta river to the south and east, ending in Koło


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