The first mention of Poznan town hall dates back to 1310. Some artefacts from that period remain to this day in its cellars. In this building the City Council gathered to establish new laws or to dispute important issues relating to the administration and management of the city. In 1536 a great fire nearly consumed the whole borough of Przemysł. Some years later a talented architect Jovanni Baptista Quadro arrived in Poznań and in 1550 started the construction of the new town hall. He drew up a completely new design, including an elegant and fashionable, east-facing façade, with three Italian-style loggia, topped with battlements resembling city walls. The Poznan town hall is now considered a pearl of Polish Renaissance architecture.
Each day as the tower clock strikes noon, two billy goats appear above the clock, butting their heads twelve times, to the delight of a curious crowd of children and travellers gathered below. How did they become one of the city’s most recognisable symbols? The legend has it, that there was a great feast organized for the opening of the new tower. A kitchen boy was tasked with attending to the main course – a venison roast – but overcome by curiosity of the festivities outside, he left the roast unattended and so it charred completely. The petrified boy, in an attempt to make up for his failure, stole a couple of small goats from a nearby pasture, and intended to roast them instead. The goats managed to escape the boy and ran into the tower where, trapped on its highest level and frightened for their lives, started butting their heads in confusion, to the bewilderment and amusement of the revellers gathered in the square below. In 1561 Bartholomew Wolf of Gubin made a tower clock for the town, and in it incorporated a mechanism with two head-butting billy goats. The original was man-powered!
Passers by are watched from the walls of the town hall by the kings and rulers of the Piast and Jagiellon dynasties. The coat of arms of Stanislaus Augustus Rex underneath the clock commemorates the last Polish king. Another decoration contains symbolic guidelines and suggestions for the city fathers. At the top of the building one can observe a mysterious three-faced creature…
The inside of the town hall also hides many unusual features. There is a Gothic Entryway with numerous painted shields and trophies of Rooster Marksman Fraternities, the history of Merchant Associations room, the Kings Room with portraits of Polish monarchs, the Court Room with its most spectacular interiors; the Great Renaissance Hall with magnificent and rich symbolical, astrological and mythological decorations on its ceilings.
After World War II the seat of the local government was moved to the buildings of the former Jesuit College, while the town hall now houses the Museum of the History of Poznań.