Area: 134,5 square km
ul. Stary Rynek 1
62-065 Grodzisk Wielkopolski
tel. +48 61 44 46 219
fax. +48 61 44 46 228
Mayor: Henryk Szymański
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TOWN AND GMINA
Grodzisk Wielkopolski is a town of almost fourteen thousand inhabitants and is the seat of the gmina and district authorities. It is also the largest industrial centre in the district. It comprises almost seven thousand hectares of arable land and over four thousand hectares of woodland, mainly in the noth-west part of gmina.
THE HISTORY OF THE TOWN AND GMINA.
In 2003 the seven hundredth anniversary of the granting of town rights to Grodzisk was celebrated. The oldest document mentioning the settlement is, however, the privilege of Przemysł I (1220/21 – 1257) granted to the Cisterian monastery in Paradyż in 1257. This authorised the founding of villages on the monastery lands according to the so-called German law. Grodzisk is mentioned among the villages thet were then the property of the Cisterians.
The convenent location of the place, on the route to Saxony, caused an influx of people and further development of Grodzisk. At that time it belonged to the Ostroróg family. An important part in the history of Grodzisk was played by members of the Jewish community settled in this area. In the 19th century they formed almost one third of the population of the town. The Mosse family family deserve particular mention. Marcus, the head of the family, played an active part in battle in 1848 during the Spring of Nations, and he was a respected doctor and councillor. His son Rudolf, however, was to be particularly remembered. Thanks to the Marcus Mosse Foundation established by him, in 1891 a hospital was opened in Grodzisk Wielkopolski, and some years later an old people's home. The street in which these institutions were built bears the name of Mosse. The hospital, modernized and extended, still functions, and the old people's home is now the premises of the Heath Centre.
The history of Grodzisk Wielkopolski is inseparable from that of brewing industry, and above all the beer of Grodzisk. Legend says it all began with the visit of a Benedictine from Lubiń, the saintly father Bernard, who probably visited Grodzisk at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries and performed a miracle: in answer to his prayer, water began to spring again from a dried-up well. The beer now brewered had a much better taste than that previously brewed.
Brewing developed here in the 16th century when the steward of the Ostroróg estate brought brewers from Moravia and Bohemia to Grodzisk. The oldest document concerning the Grodzisk brewery industry comes from 1601 and defines the statue of the guild of brewers. At that time two kinds of beer were brewed, light and dark, following strict principles, and the quality of the drink was tested by the mayor himself. Grodzisk beer began to find its way over all Wielkopolska, and later to Silesia and Brandenburg. In the 19th century, after a misunderstanding, two brewers left the guild. The withdrawal of one of the brewers from transaction with Londoners incurred the loss of the deposit and subsequently serious problems for the Grodzisk brewing industry. In 1990 the oldest brewery, situated on the Old Market Square, was closed down.
Grodzisk beer, often called Polish champagne because of its saturation with naturally producted carbon dioxide, experienced a real renaissance before the first world war. It was then sold to China, Africa, United States and Berlin, where it was regarded as a drink of distinction, as testified by its high price. After the war the beer traveled also to Australia, and Philipines. In the nineteen – seventies the brewery also was exported malt to Japan, Holland, Ghana and West Berlin. In 1993 the brewery, and with it the Grodzisk beer, ceased to exist.
Lovers of the Grodzisk specality do not give up hope that they will taste the legendary drink again one day.
In the period between the wars the economy of the town developed rapidly. Up to 1932 Grodzisk was the seat of the district authority. The food industry fluorished, likewise the United Grodzisk Breweries, the Butcheries, the Dairy, Sawmill, and other businesses.
The Nazi occupation was a time of intensive Germanisation and deportations. In Młyniewo near Grodzisk a transit camp was set up, at first for the Jews, and then for Poles. Later on, at varius times, French, Serbian, English and Soviet prisoners were also detained here. The underground opposition movement was active, despite the relatively large number of Germans in the area, especially towards the end of the war. On 27 January 1945, after a few days of heavy fighting, the town was liberated.
OBJECTS OF INTEREST, TOURISM AND RECREATION.
The town of Grodzisk grew from two urban settlements. The first, mediaval, settlement was on a small hill, formery sorrounded by a moat and in some places by an embankment of earth and timber. The second was established 2 November 1593 by Jan Ostroróg to the north of the boundary of the old town. They are linked by street formerly called Staromiejska, changed in 1890 to Szeroka. The circular line of the fortifications around the old town and the rectangular lay-out of the streets of the new town can still be seen today.
In the middle of the Old Market Square can be seen, in addiction to the mid-19th century town hall, the symbol of the town, associated with its history and its brewing industry. This is the well of Bernard of Wąbrzeźno, from which, with the help of a crane, the Grodzisk breweries took their water. In the second half of the 19th century it was given a wooden shelter in period style, renowated in 1995. The finest monument of the town is undoubtedly the parish church of St. Jadwiga. The first mention of this church comes from 1401, although it is thought the parish was already established in the 1206's. The oryginal wooden building was replaced by a Gothic church built after 1426. Its walls was covered with plaster, but outside can be seen the triangular enclosure of the chancel and the outline of the pointed arches of the portals on the northern and southern facades. The work of conversion was probably carried out by Krzysztof Bonadura Starszy, who came from Italy, supposedly from Padua, but worked all his life in Wielkopolska. The church was consecrated in 1649, although the conversion was completed only 23 years later. Over the cupola rises the metal figure of St. Florian, who task it is to protect the town against storms and fire, with the coat-of-arms and initials of the last patron of the church and the date when the work was completed. Inside can be seen among other things the Rococo altar in the right-hand chapel with the precious picture of the Madonna of te Rosary from 1640, the work of Bartłomiej Strobel, court painter to king Władysław IV.
Another fine historic monument is the former Bernardine church. The church gable and the two-storey cupola probably date from 1739. It is the single-nave building, with its transverse nave and closed chancel. Inside can be seen altars with paintings by monastic artists. On the main altar there is a picture from around 1662 showing the Adoration of The Name of Jesus by King Jan Kazimierz, saints and dignitaries.
There are also buildings of interest from the end of the 19th or of the 20th century, now housing the Regional Law Court, the District Authority, The Post Office, and the Lyceum (High School). All around the town can be seen traces of old Grodzisk; the picturesque houses on Szeroka Street and the Old Market Square and the old brewery buildings create a special atmosphere.
The Grodzisk Museum and the Association of Friends of Grodzisk preserve the memory of old Grodzisk, its inhabitants and history.
The Museum of Grodzisk goes back to 1937. On the initiative of the then mayor, the Town Council decided to create a Town Museum in Grodzisk, to be set up in two rooms in the town hall. The Occupation brought an end to the museum. Most of exhibits disepeared, probably looted by the Germans or otherwise disposed of. The museum was revived only in 1968 on the initiative of Edward Pawłowski. Once restored, the Museum of Grodzisk began to collect all kinds of objects connected with the traditions and history of the town and the neighbourhood. Considerable space was devoted to the history of the Grodzisk beer, the documentation of which goes back to 1601. After the death of Edward Pawłowski the Museum moved to the former palace on 27 Stycznia Street. In addiction to its statuory activities, the Museum carries out publishing ventures and, in co-operation with the Association of Friends of Grodzisk, the Town authority and the District Authority in Grodzisk Wielkopolski, has published a series entitled „Grodzisk Historical Papers”, and , previously, „Grodzisk Regional Records”. In 1996 the Museum and the Association of Friends together embarked on their major project so far, the painting of the „Panorama of the Defence of Grodzisk in 1848”. The completed picture is 12 metres long and 3 metres high and shows the defence of the town on 28 April 1848 during the events of the Wielkopolska Spring of Nations. Amongst other exhibits in the Museum can be seen an amphibious tank PT-76 and the carrier vessel Topaz, and four cannons of the most varied types from 1944-1950. Threre is a striking collection of uniforms from the period 1914-1950. In addition there is a large collection of beer mugs from many parts of the world.
More recently the Museum and the Association has initiated the creation of the so-called „Michał Drzymała District Tourist Trail”.
CULTURE AND SPORT
The cultural life of Grodzisk is focused mainly on the Town and Gmina Cultural Centre. This institution aims to reach a wide public in the events it organizes, such as the excellent performances given by Stanisław Soyka and Hanna Banaszak and film showings arranged by a travelling cinema. The Centre also leads clubs for children and young people catering for special interests. These include the excellent and popular Folk Dance Group „Cybinka-Grodzisk”. The same building also houses the District and Town Public Library, which has installed a computer system to help readers. It arranges meetings with authors and actors and organizes exhibitions.
Here to is the seat of the Grodzisk Wind Band, the „musical visiting card” of the town and district, led for the past quarter of a century by the bandmaster Stanisław Słowiński.
The band started in 1929 as the Voluntary Fire Service Wind Band. At present it has 120 young members between the ages of 10 and 20. The band is known not only in Poland but also beyond the borders. It has played in Russia, the former Czechoslovakia, Spain (a perform in the Real Madrid stadium for 80 thousand people), Denmark, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
The band has received numerous distinctions in the form of diplomas, cups and crystal, and has won the Golden Horn 8 times at the annual Tournament of Wind Bands in Grodzisk Wielkopolski, an event also organised by „Macierz”, the Polish Union of Choirs and Orchestras, in Poznań. In September 2003 at the International Orchestra Festival in Leszno the band won the Cup with a Gold Band, and the bandmaster proved to be the best drum major of the competition and was awarded the Crystal Baton. Stanisław Słowiński was also honoured with the title of Wielkopolska Citizen of the Year in 1996.
In the course of 25 years the band has given 3500 performances and in 2003 alone performed 156 times. It has also played in two feature films, „Two Killers” („Killerów Dwóch”) and „Rat” (Szczur”), and in the television programme „MdM”. The Grodzisk Wind Band is also an essential feature at the matches of the Grodzisk football team Groclin Dyskobolia.
The annual Grodzisk Days are important feature in the cultural life of the town. The first such event, under the name „Grodzisk Beer Days” was held in 1976 and was connected with the beer brewing traditions of the town. It was then that first exhibition of objects connected with beer and brewing was held, organized by Edward Pawłowski, as mentioned above. This tradition is now upheld by Marian Bochyński, who has established contact with collectors in Poland and other countries and initiated the exchange of objects. In the course of quarter of a century Marian Bochyński has collected among other things 700 beer glasses, 600 bottle openers, about 5000 beer labels from the whole world, and 40 pre-war beer bottles. Above all, hovewer, he looks for gadgets associated with Grodzisk beer. In the brewery collection can be seen some 10 unique advertisements for beer, among them a so-called pump („wytłoczka”) from the 1930’s and a poster in German from around 1900. Each year Marian Bochyński and other devotees meet at the Grodzisk exhibition.
The June Grodzisk Days are on opportunity for feasting, taking part in competitions, attending all kinds of concerts, including those by the most popular star performers.
PARTNERSHIPS WITH OTHER COUNTRIES
· since 1990 the gmina has been in partnership with the town of Betton in France (region: Brittany),
· since 1990 the gmina has been in partnership with Merksplas in Belgium (province: Antwerp),
· since 1992 the gmina has been in partnership with Torrelodones in Spain (Madrid Region),
· since 1996 the gmina has been in partnership with Delligsen in Germany (Land: Lower Saxon).