Konin  is a town on the Warta river in central Poland. It is the capital of Konin County. Since 1999, it has been in the Greater Poland Voivodeship. Previously, it was the capital of Konin Voivodeship (1975-1998).
Konin has 81,233 inhabitants (2006).
The beginnings of settlements near the Konin town goes back to ancient history connected with European Amber Route leading from The Roman Empire territory to the Baltic Sea through Konin. Though there were no settlements called 'Konin' at that time, valuable record about the place remained on map drawn by Ptolemeus's Auskaukalis(Alexandrian geographer). The place named Konin was described as 'Setidava'(or 'Getidava') there, and indicated probably the wading place in Warta river and 'emporium'(trading point)- probably quite important place to merchants travelling along Amber Route (information derived from 'Kalisz-Konin on The Amber Route' written by Krzysztof Gorczyca).
In the 17th century, epidemics, fires and war with Sweden provoked the decline of the town. In 1815, with the dissolution of the Duchy of Warsaw, Konin was returned in the Congress Poland controlled by Russia. In 1863, the town participated in the January Insurrection. There is still very many monuments and crosses commemorating battles and important events of the January Insurrection in the region of Konin and in the town itself. The repression of the Tsarist authorities was severe and the town went on to fear the statue of the Regional Centre for a long time.
The economic situation of the town did not improve when Poland regained its independence in 1918. The living conditions of residents were miserable. There was no network for distribution of water, and no sewers. The town did not benefit from the Industrial Revolution. The inter-war econonomic crisis was harshly felt. The situation did not begin to improve until the désenclavement of the town, thanks to the opening of the Poznań-Warsaw steel-tipped route (railway?) and the construction of the canal in the Gopło lake which relied on the Warta River, which borders the town.
During the Second World War, Konin was part of the land annexed by Nazi Germany (Reichsgau Wartheland). In the town's surrounding forests, the Nazis carried out mass executions of Poles, mostly Jews. Jews had represented 30% of Konin's population prior to the war. A descendant of Konin Jews, Theo Richmond, wrote Konin: A Quest, the most extensive history of Jewish life in the town ever to appear in English. The majority of Jews in Konin were Mitnagdim, though two small communities of Hasidim lived within the Konin Jewish community, mostly adherents to Gerer Hasidism, with a small group of Aleksander Hasidim.
The town of Konin is situated in the east part of Greater Poland region. Konin County (Powiat Koninski) represents virtual abundance and wealthy of that part of Poland. We can establish a general division here into two main groups:
I Natural heritage; II Cultural heritage.
Every of those group has its own subdivision:
I Natural heritage : 1. Sanctuaries for wildlife; 2. Landscape parks; 3. Other interesting places.
II Cultural heritage: 1. Museums; 2. Open-air museums; 3. Monuments of history and architecture; 4. Monuments of local folklore; 5. Other interesting places.
Konin County (Powiat Koninski) contains of monuments of history belonging to every , main architectural epochs which took place in Poland, namely:
Romanesque architecture; Gothic architecture; Renaissance architecture; Mannerism and Manneristic architecture; Baroque architecture; Rococo art; architecture of XVIII-th century: Classicism; architecture of XIX-th century: Neogothic, Neoromanesque, Neoclassicism, Eclecticism; architecture of XX-th century: Modernism, Nazi architecture, Socialist Realism, Post-modernism.
Because of strategic geographical situation of Konin County shortly before the outburst of II World War there are interesting remains of Defence Line of 'Poznań' Army near Konin, namely several bunkers made of strong, reinforced concrete.
There is short list of main historical monuments of Konin town itself put in order according to architectural epochs:
- Romanesque - 1. Famous, oldest Polish mile stone made of local sandstone from quarry in Brzeźno village. It is well known as Konin Mile Stone. It was founded in 1151 AD by duke Piotr Włost Włostowicz or Piotr Stary Wszeborowic. There are magnificent examples of Romanesque inscription and letters themselves carved on it. According to some scholars and hypotheses the mile stone had been earlier Celtic sculpture. 2. St Bartholomew's parish church was rebuilt in the second half of XIV-th century, but Romanesque remains are still visible in external walls, especially in the north wall. They are dressed stones made of sandstone and massive stone cross built-in in the wall as well.
- Gothic - 1. St Bartholomew's parish church is most beautiful example of Gothic architecture and art in Konin. There are beautiful, gothic net and stellar vaults inside the church and stained glasses in the chancel. 2. St Andrew's church in the north district of Konin called Gosławice is a precious example of rural, Gothic church having unique view of Greek cross. The building has got a rare fan vault with the only sand-stone column in the middle of the floor. The sand stone bosses and other details are richly carved. In the external walls there are a few coats of arms built-in. 3. Mediaeval Castle in Gosławice - at present Regional Museum of Konin was built by Poznań bishop Andrzej Łaskarz in 1418-1426. I was adjusted well to defence with the use of fire-arms.
- Renaissance - 1. Late, Renaissance chapel of Jan Zemełko(Zemelius) in the St. Bartholomew's parish church - Jan Zemełko was local physician, Renaissance man and well known member of the Middle class in Konin and Kalisz as well. 2. The former house of Jan Zemełko (Zemelius) in the Plac Wolności. The house was refurbished completely many a time since the age of Zemelius but we can still see there amazingly thick wall on the ground floor (1,2 m) and the main hall with the original barrel vault in it.
- Mannerism - 1. St. Bartholomew's parish church with Manneristic, magnificent, architectural tombstone of Stanisław Przyjemski on the north wall of the main nave seems to be the most characteristic example of local Mannerism. 2. in chapel of Jan Zemełko (Zemelius} there are impressive, wooden stalls with inlaid work. They are rare example of Manneristic furniture.
- Baroque - 1. St. Bartholomew's parish church with plenty of magnificent altars, epitaphs and stalls, late baroque wall crucifix in the porch, late baroque church organs from XVIII-th century. 2. Monastery and St. Mary Magdalene's church of Reformed Franciscans from 1631.
- Rococo - 1. St. Bartholomew's parish church - wall crucifix above the entrance to the porch on the north wall of the main nave and main altar in chapel of Jan Zemełko (Zemelius}
- Classicism - 1. The Town Hall from the very beginning of XIX-th century with beautiful façade encompassing four, tall Toscany Columns and large pediment on them. Above the pediment there is also little tower there (partly made of wood) with the tower clock and tall flag-staff as well. 2. The Old Town with many classicist tenement-houses and former bucher's shops by the town hall. 3. Municipal Council Building on the north wall of Plac Wolności. 4. Presbitery of Lutheran church of Holy Ghost is, in fact, classicist manor-house surprisingly situated in the small garden in the middle of the Old Town of konin.
- XIXth and XXth century Neogothic - 1. St Bartholomew's parish church has got Neogothic main altar made of wood with many Neogothic statues on it. 3. St Andrew's church in Gosławice the north district of Konin is also, apart from old, Gothic parts and details, thoroughly refurbished according to Neogothic manner. The central turret and façades of chapels are built in XIX-th century.
- XIXth and XXth century Eclecticism - 1. Lutheran church of Holy Ghost from 1856 (rebuilt in 1901-1915, 1981-1985) can be great example of Eclecticism in Konin. It is built of the dark brick with massive main tower coverad with spire, many, decorative architectonical deatils and complete equipement of the interior from the XIXth and the beginning of XXth century. Apart from architecture, the church itself constitutes magnificent link to unique history of Reformation in the region of Konin. It's worth to be noticed that as a result or The Partitions of Poland at the end of XVIIIth and splitting the country in three parts divided between three, Polish neighbours, in XIXth century region of Konin became a part of Russia (unlikely to the rest of Greater Poland being itself the part of Prussia). Because of those Russian connections we have splendid opportunity to observe in architecture of some buildings in Konin reminiscences of architecture of Russian Orthodox Churches. There are at least two churches in Konin where those far reminiscenses are visible - one of them it is Lutheran church of Holy Ghost being just at issue. 2. St. Adalbert's church in Morzysław district - the church itself was built in XVIIIth century (on the site of previous, probably wooden, smaller church and churchyard) but at the very beginning of XXth century it was completely refurbished, enlarged and changed. In result impressive, large temple was created with tall main tower and high spire on it. The brick walls was plastered. This is the second church in Koninm being under the slight influence of Russian Orthodox Churches' architecture. 3. Many tenement-houses in Old Town of Konin have eclectic façades encompassing features of almost all, known architectural manners and styles. 4. Very interesting example of Eclecticism in Konin is set of ex-Jewish buildings, namely synagogue, ritual baths and Talmudic school house. Buildings were built in the XIXth century and synagogue itself is considered as one of the most beutiful buildings of this kind in Greater Poland. It was erected in 1832, then enlarged and renewed in 1883. South façade refers to history of Ashkenazi Jews and comprises of mix of architectural styles with predominance of Moor architecture and Neogothic. North façade is more composed and simple and refers mainly to Classicism with its huge pediment. 5. Gypsys' palaces in Stodolniana Street and Europejska Street with impressive onion-like domes, sculptures or shaped as if mediaevel castles in miniature and richly embellished are themselves very characteristic examples of Eclecticism in Konin. They were built at the very end of the XXth century mainly in 80s and 90s and are, so to speak, phenomena on the background of town constituting quite separate category of town's residences and villas.
- Modernism - Modernism in Konin we can divide into two periods - Prewar Modernism (1920-1939) and After-war Modernism (1945 - up to 60s)
- Prewar Modernism in Konin is represented by quite a good deal of tenement-houses but let us emphasize here significance of two of them: 1. Tenement-house in Szarych Szeregów street no.1 – This is impressive, renewed of last building with distinguished facades and breathtaking, terrific history. It was built in 1930s by local MP, after the outburst of II World War and defeat of Polish Army during the painful September Defensive Campaign in 1939, there were offices of Gestapo (Secret State Police of Nazi Germany) located in this house. Building had an ill name because of torturing of prisoners being held in here. After 1945 in the very same building there were offices of Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (Communist Secret State Police) and ill name of the place went on. Nowadays there are private apartments in the building. 2. Tenement –house in 3 Maja street no. 48 – This is also good example of prewar Modernism in Konin. There is The Guild of Handi-Crafts (Cech Rzemiosł Różnych) situated there and various kinds of shops as well. .
- After-war Modernism in Konin encompasses beautiful and precious examples of architecure being situated in, so called, The New Konin, that is to say newly built districts northwards from the Warta river. 1. Town's Library (Miejska Biblioteka Publiczna - abbr.MBP) - Dworcowa street no.13 is best example of that what we deal with right here. This is truly Modernistic bulk having elaborated architectonical shape with its perpendicular ribs of concrete dividing windows into narrow quarters - black and white as main colours of building and deep green of greenery around it together with precisely cuboidal massive creates unique impression,indeed. The building is open to the public as library,entrance is free and visiting it is a game worth a candle not only because of books,bit because of architecture of the interior as well. Before the building was taken over for granted by the library, a branch of National Bank of Poland (Narodowy Bank Polski- abbr.NBP) took place in here. 2. Former building of CENTRUM department store (nowadays Dino supermarket)in Dworcowa street is interesting exmple of Modernistic architecture as well. The profile of its facade is curved a little and lifted up with huge window. It stands on two, solid concrete pillars and there are additiona shop windows for the exposition on the ground flor below protruding massive of facade. up to 1990s it was the most known and representative building in Konin.
In Konin County(Powiat Koninski) there are remains, traces and monuments of many national minorities living in Poland in the course of history, namely:
Jews, Scots, Germans, Russians, Gypsies, Czechs, so called Olenderska community. (Information about Scots derived from lectures given in Miejska Biblioteka Publiczna by Mr. Jerzy Łojko)
Local branch of PTTK (Polish Tourist-Sightseeing Society, Polish Tourist Country-Lovers' Society) is very active in Konin as well.
- PTTK Oddzial w Koninie - Meetings of members and lovers of PTTK Konin take place every Thursday after 6.30 p.m. in a base (except holidays on, as it follows: 1-3 May, 15 August, 1 November, 11 November, 25-26 December, 1 January. With regard to changeable holidays e.g. Easter and Boże Ciało, please contact Polish Embassy at your place to get information about the dates). The address of the base: ul. Kolejowa 11 (Kolejowa Street no. 11), 62-510 Konin, Poland.
tel. (+48)063 2423980;
You can find us on the web sides:
Members of Parliament (Sejm) elected from Konin constituency
- Piotr Maluśkiewicz, Województwo konińskie - szkic monograficzny, Biblioteka Kronika Wielkopolski, Wydział Kultury i sztuki Urzędu Wojewódzkiego w Poznaniu, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa-Poznań 1983
- Piotr Maluśkiewicz, Konin i Okolice - przewodnik, Wydawnictwo 'Sport i Turystyka', Warszawa 1989
- Ks. Henryk Witczak, Z życia religijnego w Królewskim Mieście Koninie - Dzieje parafii św. Bartłomieja w Koninie do roku 1818, (Praca doktorska Wydziału Teologicznego Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu), Wydawnictwo duszpasterstwa Rolników, Włocławek 2006
- Theo Richmond, Konin: A Quest, Jonathan Cape, London, 1995 Konin: One Man's Quest for a Vanished Jewish Community
- "Konin" - Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities in Poland (Pinkas HaKehillot) http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/pinkas_poland/pol1_00235.html
- קונין - סיפורה של עיירה יהודית (Hebrew) PowerPoint Presentation http://mofetnet.macam.ac.il/FileFetcher.aspx?id=25489&imageType=courseFile
Famous people from Konin