Name Municipal Stadium - Poznan
The first Polish Euro 2012 venue to be completed, Poznan's 40,000-capacity Municipal Stadium had its ribbon cut as British music icon Sting performed a concert to mark the occasion in September 2010 and it will certainly will not want for atmosphere when the action gets underway.
Reconstructed from top to bottom over a seven-year period (2003-2010) at a cost of €180 million, the spaceship-like construction with the trademark billowing roof is the sort of ground where noise swirls and builds into a crescendo. With some of the competition's best supported sides set to do battle here, the dial will go all the way up to eleven.
Located in the Grunwald suburb of south-west Poznan, the arena can be reached by tram (numbers 1, 6, 13, or 15) or bus (A, 50, 63, 91).
Where to go, what to see
Poznan may be recognised for being an educational and industrial centre in the west of Poland, but it is ready made to host a Euro 2012 party this summer. Football fans here, either followers of domestic big-hitters Lech Poznan or second division Warta, are as passionate as anywhere on the continent and they are certain to offer a warm hand of friendship when supporters of the Republic of Ireland, Croatia and Italy come to their back yard for exciting games in Group C.
Expect the vibe to be just as fevered in the centre of town in June. While the central market square (Stary Rynek), a most attractive spot full of pavement cafes and in vogue bars, is lively enough during the day, the buzz becomes even more intense as the night falls.
A good place to kick off the fun and games is the Brovaria boutique brewery/restaurant/hotel. Not only do they offer a host of bar snacks (mushrooms in breadcrumbs, ham and cheese toast) and full meals (try the knuckle of pork or chicken with pesto) the ales take some beating too, particularly the brilliantly malty honey beer. A suitable Guinness replacement for the Irish visitors maybe? Other excellent watering holes include Klub Dragon on ul Zamkowa 3, Alter Ego (Stary Rynek 63) and the 'Back in the USSR' bar (ul Wroclaska 9).
Despite overdoing the Soviet kitsch - more military insignia than the Red Army and mandatory bust of Lenin - it still hits the beverage spot as its vodkas are served with a pickle and great beers from the local Czarnkow brewery.
For live music, check out the laid-back Lizard King on Stary Rynek 86 or the avant-garde club Meskalina in the same square. As a simple rule of thumb, most of the devouring and refuelling in Poznan takes place in the main square and close-at-hand alleys such as Wroclawska, Wodna and Wozna.
Another hot-spot for restaurants is found in and around ul Sw Marcin and ul 27 Grudnia. Among the best are the homely Kresowa, a fine Polish-Lithuanian eatery on ul Kwiatowa 2 (you must try their superb veal), the Italian pizza joint Da Luigi on Wodna and the local branch of the Chlopskie Jadlo chain, who specialise in Polish peasant food. While the last of this trio is a little twee, it makes up for that by offering superior 'bigos' (meat and cabbage stew), pork ribs and 'pierogi', ravioli Polska style.
Also in the culinary hall of fame in Poznan is Pastela, close to the Stary Rynek on u23 Lutego 40, the place to go for the tastiest salmon and trout dishes in town, not to mention delicious pasta. As you can tell, running out of options to satisfy the pallet is unlikely to be a concern in this Euro 2012 venue. Another option for the famished is to make tracks to the Stary Browar shopping mall on ul Powwiejska to the south-west of the Old Town. A former brewery, this huge building has a vast array of cafes and restaurants, the fantastic Alma delicatessen and no fewer than 210 retail outlets. You could say it's popular as an estimated 40,000 eager shoppers come here daily.
With the bulk of its primary attractions concentrated in a relatively small area downtown, this is not a city that will be is hard on shoe leather, though one thing every visitor here should do is to jump on a tram and see where it takes you. Like Lisbon and Melbourne, this is Tram City and one of the abiding sounds of Poznan is the rattle of trams on cobbled streets.
Public transport tickets (tram or bus) can be distance-based: 1.90 zlotys for a trip of up to 10 stops; 3.20 for a longer ride. Or 11.40 zlotys for a day ticket. Poznan's airport is located in the western suburb of Lawica, connected to the city centre by buses 59, 77 and 78. The journey takes around 25 minutes, costs 2.60 zlotys and ends up at the Baltyk stop near the city's main train station (Poznan Glowny), 2km south-west of the Old Town. To get to the main square jump on tram 5.
The bus station is a five-minute walk to the east of the train station along ul Towarowa. A first-class tourist information centre is to be found in Stary Rynek and as well as offering free guided tours, they sell the highly-recommended City Card (with 1, 2 or 3-day versions costing 30/40/45 zlotys), offering free travel on public transport and entrance to major museums and discounts at restaurants and recreational activities.
The Poznan Fan Zone will be held in the city centre at Wolnosci Square, an expanse flanked by the National Museum and the Polish theatre, as Poznan looks set to provide the perfect mix of sporting and cultural delights for all of its Euro 2012 guests.