The Story Behind the Poznan Goats
If you have spent anytime in Poznan, you know that the town is crazy about goats! As you walk through the market square (rynek) in Poznan, you will immediate notice the stunning Town Hall (ratusz) located in the center of the market.
This building dates back to the 13th century when its construction began after the founding of the city of Poznan in 1253. This building has undergone a number of reconstructions over the centuries, but today the building stands beautifully in the center of the city.
What makes the Poznan Town Hall especially famous is, the goats. At the top of the building you will notice two small doors. Hiding behind these doors are a pair of billy goats!
These mechanical billy goats make their appearance daily at noon with a cute display of butting heads 12 times to mark the mid-day hour. While it is fun to watch, many people are curious as to what is the story behind the famous goats of Poznan!
Legend of the Poznan Goats
In the city of Poznan, there was a huge fire which ended up destroying the Town Hall building. The mayor ordered the Town Hall to be rebuilt with a special clock added to the front. The town council held a large party to celebrate the opening of the new building. They invited many guests from the region and planned an elaborate dinner.
There was a young cook named Pietrek who was placed in charge of the main dish - venison leg. While the meat was cooking, Pietrek took a break to step out and have a look at the new clock on the Town Hall building. When he returned to his roast, he discovered that the meat had fallen into the fire, burned, and was completely inedible!
The young cook was desperate. There was no more venison to be found in the kitchen, so he took off in search of something to use as a replacement. He ran to a nearby field where many towns people kept their animals. Here, Pietrek stole two billy goats and brought them to the Town Hall kitchen.
Once they arrived in the kitchen, the goats escaped from Pietrek and took off in the direction of the stairs and reappeared from the Town Hall turret. On the market square below, many important guests were gathered to celebrate the festivities. All of a sudden, they looked up at the top of the Town Hall to witness the two billy goats fighting and butting heads. Everyone in attendance, including the mayor, found this event hilarious!
Thankfully, mayor ended up pardoning Pietrek. He found the whole ordeal so humorous, that he asked that a pair of goats be added to the clock (similar to a cuckoo clock). The mechanism on the clock was designed to activate everyday so at noon, the two goats appear and butt heads 12 times to mark the mid-day hour. At noon, trumpeter appears at the top of the Town Hall and plays a bugle call, which is when the two goats appear!
It is thought that the goats were first installed on the tower in the year 1551. In 1675, the tower was badly damaged and the goats had a long break until 1913, when they were restored to the clock.
Read more fun facts about Poznan.
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