Poznan is a wonderful Polish Art Nouveau hub.
Art Nouveau means “new art” in French and it was indeed new, novel and groundbreaking at the turn of the 20th century.
The style spread out across Europe and beyond, mostly between around 1890 and 1910.
It dominated not only architecture, but also other aesthetic fields such as furniture design, interior design, painting, jewellery and graphic design.
Art Nouveau had some variations and different names in different regions of Europe, like Jugendstil in Germany, Secession in Austria, Glasgow School in Scotland, Stile Liberty in Italy and Nieuwe Kunst in the Netherlands.
What does Art Nouveau look like?
Art Nouveau buildings are easy to spot, thanks to their decorations, mostly floral or other organic nature motifs, rounded corners and wavy, fluid lines.
The use of flowers, leaves and whiplash curves was a response or a rebellion against 19th century industrialism.
They would normally have elegantly decorated railings and banisters and sometimes stained glass windows and stucco decorations.
Some Art Nouveau buildings are intentionally asymmetrical.
On many of the Art Nouveau buildings in Poznan you’ll find the word “Salve” inscribed, usually about the door. It means hello or welcome in Latin.
The history of Art Nouveau architecture in Poznan
The abundance of art nouveau buildings in this area has a simple historical reason.
As the city of Poznan was expanding, it needed more space and more houses.
The area of Jezyce used to be a village and it was was annexed to the expanding city in the beginning of the 20th century.
This is just when Art Nouveau was the most fashionable style, and so the new houses that were built in Jezyce followed that fashion.
Poznan was under Prussian rule up until 1918 and the architecture was influenced by Berlin’s Jugendstil.
Some of these historical houses have been restored or renovated and they look beautiful today. Others have not been restored, but are still worth exploring.
Apart from Poznan, you can find examples of Art Nouveau buildings from that era mainly in the Polish cities of Łódź, Wrocław and Bydgoszcz.
In Warsaw Most of the Art Nouveau buildings were destroyed in WWII and later under the communist regime, but you can still find a few.
Some of the most dominant architects in the Art Nouveau era in Poland were Oskar Hoffmann, Franciszek Mączyński, Hermann Böhmer, Paul Preul and Paul Pitt, Wiktor Miarczyński, Tadeusz Stryjeński, Ludwik Wojtyczko, Sławomir Odrzywolski, Romuald Miller and Beniamin Torbe.
Where to find Art Nouveau architecture in Poznan
Art Nouveau in the Jezyce District
The main hub for Art Nouveau architecture is the Jezyce district in Poznan, west of the city centre.
It’s a short walking distance from the old town.
It is a residential area that has some cool cafes and a chilled atmosphere.
In the past it was considered a dodgy area to walk around, but like many similar neighbourhoods, it’s now the up-and-coming part of town; safe, popular and trendy. I’ve heard it compared to Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighbourhood.
The best streets to wander in search of Art Nouveau buildings in Jezyce are Mickiewicza, Słowackiego, Zwierzyniecka, Dąbrowskiego, Kraszewskiego and Jackowskiego.
Art Nouveau in the Lazarz District
Another part of the city where you can find many Art Nouveau buildings is called Łazarz.
The streets where you can find the best examples of Art Nouveau architecture are Matejki, Wyspiańskiego, Głogowska, Niegolewskich and Małeckiego.
More Art Nouveau in Poznan
There are more Art Nouveau buildings all around the city. Just look up and you’ll spot them easily.
Some streets in the city centre that have great examples of Art Nouveau architecture include Święty Marcin (don’t miss the building at number 69), Garbary, Szewska, Półwiejska and Kwiatowa.