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GoPoland!: Where to Go: Poznan: History

A strategic location never hurt a city's growth, and Poznan is no exception. Its origins stretch back to the beginning of the nation: the man who brought Poland into being with his baptism - Mieszko I - underwent the ceremony in Poznan. Following that momentous event, the city went on to become one of the two strongholds of the new Polish nation. While the other - Gniezno - weakened after the move south to the new capital of Krakow, Poznan strengthened as it took on capital status of its own. Now the center of the Wielkopolska region, it grew as a religious and commercial city.

That growth increased when the Teutonic Knights departed Poland, and again when the Hanseatic League declined. But like the rest of the nation, Poznan then suffered terribly with the Swedish invasions in the mid-17th century, and then lost its Polish name completely when incorporated into Prussia under the Partitions.

Yet the change remained only skin-deep. Despite Prussian efforts to germanize the newly-christened Posen, the population continued to consider itself Polish and acted on that belief near the end of WWI. In 1918, Posen rose up and forced out its German rulers, voting with their arms to reinstate Poznan as a Polish city. It quickly acted on its new freedom, establishing a university in 1919 and a trade fair in 1921. The fair became so successful (partially due to Poznan's fortunate location on the road which begins in Paris and ends in Moscow, hitting all the major capitals in between) that Poznan is now inundated with them.

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