Żnin is a town situated in the region of Pałuki, between the lakes Jezioro Żnińskie Duże and Jezioro Żnińskie Małe. It is quite likely that the town owns its name to the Old Polish word “żnieja” (in English “harvest”). Numerous archaeological discoveries have confirmed that the original settlement was located along the Amber Road.
Żnin was first mentioned in documents in 1136. Back then, it was a trading settlement and a castellan’s stronghold. For a couple of centuries, it also served as an unofficial capital of archbishops of Gniezno. In 1236, Żnin was granted its borough rights by a bishop, based on the Magdeburg Law. The year 1343 marks the beginning of the construction of curtain walls around the town. In the mid-15th Century, the town was additionally encircled with an artillery defence system based on ditches and ramparts. Together with the neighbouring castle in Wenecja, Żnin was part of a defensive fortification complex. In the 15th Century, the town served as one of the more important municipal centres of Greater Poland, where they brewed excellent beer and baked perfect bread. It was also the time where the legendary tower (town hall) was built in Żnin, which has remained a symbol of the town, to this day.
Starting in the beginning of the 17th Century, Żnin was slowly falling into decline, which was first caused by an epidemic and then by the devastation brought by the Swedish Deluge and numerous fires. As a result of the first Partition of Poland, the town was incorporated in the territory under Prussian rule. Then, it became part of the Duchy of Warsaw and once again returned under the rule of Prussia, following the fall of Napoleon. It had not been until the second half of the 19th Century, when the economic development of the town started to gather momentum. Many industrial plants were built at that time, such as a brewery, a vinegar production plant, a steam mill or a sugar factory, the latter of which required a connection by a narrow-gauge railway that has been preserved to this day.
Among the most important historic buildings in Żnin, there is the Baroque Gothic St. Florian’s Church, the Gothic town hall from the 15th Century, the early Gothic St. Martin’s Church, or the former town hall from the beginning of the 20thCentury.
The vicinity of Żnin was also used as a film set for the film ,,Kto nigdy nie żył “/ “Who Never Lived” (2006) directed by Andrzej Seweryn. The sugar factory at ul. Śniadeckich and the town square near the tower were some of the locations used to shoot the TV series ,,M jak Miłość”, in 2015.
Żnin is also the birthplace of Tadeusz Malak, a film director, an academic teacher and a professor of theatre, and of Paweł Tucholski, an actor well-known for his many appearances in films and TV productions and a two-time winner of Przegląd Piosenki Aktorskiej (Polish festival of singing actors) in Wrocław.