A cult figure in military history, Napoleon Bonaparte made several visits to what is now modern day Poland, with Poznań hosting him twice during his forays into the East. The ‘Little Emperor’ first arrived in the city on November 27th, 1806, in a time sandwiched between victorious campaigns against the Prussian and Russian empires, respectively. In the words of the German chronicler Hugo Sommer, “for three weeks Poznań took on the role of the centre of the European world.”
Seen as a liberating hero by the natives (many of whom had fought in his ranks against the Prussians, and later against Russia), Bonaparte took residence at the former Jesuit College (ul. Gołębia, D-2) adjacent to Lesser Basilica of St. Stanislaus. For the duration of his stay the college was decorated with gifts from the people, and renamed 'Château de Posen,' while other tributes included the re-christening of Al.
The Saski itself is worth a visit; although now nothing more than a row of shops, it is recognised as being Poznań’s first hotel. Designed by Józef Małczewski, it was constructed between 1796-1797 and its hall served as the social centre for the local glitterati for the next half a century. Few signs remain of the Frenchman’s tours to this corner of the world, though die-hard fans can make the pilgrimage to Kórnik Castle to view his fork and spoon.