Wielkopolskie is a voivodeship (province) in the West of Poland, whose name is derived from the historic and geographic region of Greater Poland. The regional capital is Poznań. The region has been under the German rule for the entirety of the 19th century and maintains many reminiscences. The population is pretty evenly spread, and the region is quite industrialized in terms of the light industry types like machine-building or foodstuffs, but there is no heavy industry and there is a fair amount of intact nature.
- Poznań — capital of the Greater Poland Voivodship
- Kalisz — second-largest city, popularly regarded as the oldest continuous Polish settlement
- Ostrów Wielkopolski
Other of interest
- Gołuchów — with a beautiful renaissance castle and the aurochs stockyard
- Kłodawa — with the biggest operating salt mine in Poland
- Licheń — 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
- Owińska — a small village close to Poznań
- Swarzędz — with the only bee-keeping museum in Poland
- Wolsztyn — world-famous for its working steam trains depot, the only one in Europe still in operation; also offers wonderful lakes, an open-air museum and the Robert Koch Museum
- Wielkopolski National Park — national park protecting the wildlife of the Greater Poland Lakes
Cities like Biskupin and Kalisz in this region date back to the 7th century BC and 1st century after Christ, respectively. Greater Poland was the also the core of the early medieval Kingdom of Poland and is often regarded as the cradle of Poland, as the Polish Piast Dynasty emerged in the 9th century in this region, conquering the other Polish provinces in the 10th century. The first Polish capitals and church centers where in Giecz, Gniezno and Poznań.
However, Poland's capital moved to Kraków in Lesser Poland in 1040. A century later Greater Poland became a duchy within the Seniorat of Poland. It was the local duke Przemysł II who first reunited Poland and became the first new king of Poland in 1295. In the beginning of the 14th century Greater Poland became a province (or voivodeship) of the Kingdom of Poland.
During the Second Partition of Poland in 1793 much of its territory was annexed by Prussia, but regained independence as part of the Duchy of Warsaw between 1807-1815. After the Congress of Vienna it was again annexed by Prussia. Following World War I it became part of the Second Polish Republic, but was annexed by Nazi-Germany as "Warthegau" after the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939. It is again part of Poland since 1945. The Polish October, a anti Soviet uprising, took place in Poznań in 1956, giving the beginning of the Hungarian Uprising that followed this event. In the 21st century, Wielkopolskie is one of the strongest regions in Poland in terms of local economy.
As Polish has been homogenized after the many large-scale population movements after the Second World War and development of mass-media, there is not much left of regional variations of the language. That said, some vocabulary remains specific to Wielkopolskie, mostly nouns and verbs derived from German. The knowledge of those is, however, not required to get by.
As concerns foreign languages, the German legacy and the closeness of the Western neighbour leads to a higher prevalence of German-speakers than in Eastern regions of Poland. English is spoken by most of the younger-generation, and by those in service jobs, although not necessairly in state-owned enterprises like the railways or post offices.
Poznań has a major international airport with scheduled connections to many European cities. As the A2 motorway and the railway line from Berlin to Warsaw runs right through Wielkopolskie, one can also arrive at the airports of either national capital and continue to the region by ground transport.
Polish National Rail Carrier PKP (in the cooperation with Deutsche Bahn) offers daily connections to Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Amsterdam and Innsbruck. Besides : one can use many long-distance connections to the region from Warsaw, Wrocław, Cracow, Gdańsk, Toruń, Szczecin and almost all other bigger polish cities. Most of these connections are served by PKP Intercity. The main railway hub in the region is Poznań, but express trains, TLK-trains and intercity trains stop usually as well in Leszno, Gniezno, Piła, Kalisz and Konin. The fast (pospieszny in polish) trains stop as well in smaller towns.
Greater Poland Voivodeship borders seven other Polish provinces: