Decisive moments in Polish history retold with 1.5 million blocks of Lego

Taking HistoryLand’s Marcin Tobolski, Krzysztof Tobolski and Marcin Pietrucha seven years to complete, the models were constructed on a 1:50 scale with the trio working in close cooperation with historians to ensure accuracy. HistoryLand/Facebook

Rendered from 1.5 million blocks of Lego, a new exhibition showcasing the key moments in Polish history has opened in Poznań’s historic trade fair.

Previously presented in Kraków where it drew a staggering 50,000 visitors, the idea for HistoryLand was first coined ten-years ago by three friends united by their passion for Lego.

Native to Poznań, Marcin Tobolski, Krzysztof Tobolski and Marcin Pietrucha founded the city’s Lego store purposefully to establish a steady supply of the necessary bricks needed for their project.

Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

Events depicted include the Gdańsk shipyard strikes that saw the birth of the Solidarity movement.Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

Taking shape in their garages, the models were then constructed on a 1:50 scale with the trio working in close cooperation with historians to ensure accuracy.

Taking seven years to fully realize, the resulting models came to be defined by their fine detail: the Bronze Age fort of Biskupin, for instance, was modelled following the exact angles as found on the roofs of the since reconstructed settlement.

Immense in its scope and ambition, in all a staff of 13 people worked to expand the exhibition so that it would include landmarks relevant to Poznań such as the city’s football stadium, the iconic Town Hall and the award-winning Bałtyk tower.

Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

The heroic defence of Westerplatte has also been recreated along with a model of the battleship Schleswig-Holstein firing its guns on besieged Polish troops.HistoryLand

Previously, the organizers had even go so far as to recreate the Poznań protests of 1956. Breaking out in June, this milestone rising was the first such workers’ manifestation of the PRL era and was brutally suppressed by tanks and water cannon.

These models will supplement a display that has already captivated audiences. Of the other events that have been broached, visitors will be able to view the Gdańsk shipyard strikes that saw the birth of the Solidarity movement.

Marking the opening salvos of WWII, the heroic defence of Westerplatte has also been recreated along with a model of the battleship Schleswig-Holstein firing its guns on besieged Polish troops.

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The 1944 Battle of Monte Cassino – it’s deadlock broken by the Polish II Corps – has been lovingly reconstructed with its closer details not overlooking the legendary role of Wojtek, a Syrian brown bear that helped lug ammunition during the course of the campaign.HistoryLand/Facebook

Covering the full passage of time, the display includes the iconic memorial now found on the peninsula complete with Polish flags, spotlights and symbolic flames.

Triumphs, too, have been recorded. The 1944 Battle of Monte Cassino – it’s deadlock broken by the Polish II Corps – has been lovingly reconstructed with its closer details not overlooking the legendary role of Wojtek, a Syrian brown bear that helped lug ammunition during the course of the campaign.

Continuing the military theme, the 1627 naval Battle of Oliwa is covered, but as impressive as it is it’s thunder is stolen by an epic interpretation of the Battle of Grunwald.

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The Bronze Age fort of Biskupin was modelled following the exact angles as found on the roofs of the since reconstructed settlement.Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

Taking place in 1410, it saw the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania score a decisive victory over the Teutonic Order. Bringing home the sheer magnitude of the battle, 36,000 horses can be counted in the Lego replication.

Poland’s often bloody history is not skirted, but there is more to HistoryLand than war and that much is underscored by other attractions such as a striking copy of the Cloth Hall in Kraków, the city’s Wawel complex, the Cathedral doors of Gniezno (presented on a scale of 1:1), and the monastery at Jasna Góra.

Built from 300,000 bricks alone, views of the latter are given added impact through the use of VR goggles.

The idea for HistoryLand was first coined ten-years ago by three friends united by their passion for Lego.Jakub Kaczmarczyk/PAP

Not short on interactive elements, video mapping, tablets, audio recordings and motion sensors enrich the experience further: perhaps unexpectedly, these allow visitors to listen to Kraków’s bugler or even enter an interactive cockpit.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the opening, co-creator Marcin Tobolski summed-up the aim: “We want everyone who visits to leave with one word: wow.”

Set to run until June of 2022, that much seems assured.