The Bernardine Monastery is one of the first and most important establishments of the Franciscan Observants order in Poland. The friars arrived in Poznań in the mid-15th century and erected a monastery in the city’s outskirts. They creatively competed for followers with, among others, the Conventual Franciscans, who maintained a monastery on Przemysł Hill. To that end, they obtained a permit to build a unique Loreto house (a chapel modeled on the Holy House of Loreto) set inside the shrine. The place attracted many Poznań burghers.
The Bernardine Church stands out with its two tall towers. They were constructed by the monks despite a prohibition by city authorities, who saw them as a security threat in the even that an enemy would capture the monastery and attack the city, taking advantage of the protection offered by its massive walls.
Both the monastery and the church were situated in the flood plains of the Warta River. To keep them safe from damage, their foundations were lifted above ground level. As a result, the monastery was only accessible via stairs.