For a good start – a special offer

Dukes prepared a special offer to attract new settlers and keep them in Poznań. They granted the townspeople the right to a tax-free trade. This was supposed to be compensation for the hardships connected to installing oneself in a city.

The period of the tax-free trade lasted eight years and pertained to the annual market which had begun to be organised even before the founding of the city. After that time, the inhabitants were required to pay only half of the amount of the custom duty. Foreign merchants coming to the city by the Warta River paid the whole amount, which generated considerable income for the rulers.

Successive Polish rulers granted the city further privileges connected to trade. Hence, a special bond developed between the townspeople and the monarch, whereas the city began to turn into one of the main trade centres in the Kingdom of Poland.

The view of Poznań in the past from the atlas titled Civitates Orbis Terrarum (1618). The text in the frame, which reads ‘Poznań, a beautiful city near the border with Silesia’, indicates a strong relationship between the city and this region, public domain


Construction site

The foundation charter did not state what the new city should look like. It is possible that even before it was drawn up, a market square and streets had already been charted, the construction of the fortifications had started and the plots to build houses had been measured. Thanks to archaeologists we know that the 21-hectare area of the city was oval-shaped.

The Market Square, the third largest in Poland, was in the shape of a square. Twelve perpendicular streets, three on each side, led to it. It was mainly used for trade and for public purposes and was designed with spaces for market stalls, the Weigh House, the City Hall and the whipping post.

Dukes granted settlers free building materials and the land for houses. At first, people were content with buildings made of wood. Tenement houses made of stone did not appear in the Market Square until the 16th century.

There was also a castle hill overlooking the city. Over time, a small watchtower located on it was turned into the Royal Castle. This proves that the city not only provided rulers with income, but also became their new seat and trademark.