Wolsztyn is a county town located on the banks of Barzyńskie and Wolsztyńskie Lakes, connected with each other with the Dojca river. The town’s great attraction is an open-air museum with operational steam locomotives. A Steam Locomotives’ Parade is held there on an annual basis, in May, attracting a multitude of steam-powered rail vehicles from the world over. In 1872–1880, the famous German physician and bacteriologist Robert Koch, a Nobel Prize winner, lived in Wolsztyn. Marcin Rożek (1885–1944), the outstanding Wielkopolska sculptor was another local dweller of fame. Having refused to produce a bust of Hitler, he was sent to the Auschwitz camp where he died of emaciation.
Wolsztyn is believed to have been founded circa 1380 by Peregryn Komorowski, a knight from King Casimir the Great’s time. The later-date development of this initially small town owed much to trading in wool and cloth-making industry.
The centuries 16th and 17th clearly saw Wolsztyn develop. During the Thirty Years’ War of 1618–1648, many Protestant dissenters settled down in this town. Resulting from the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, Wolsztyn was made part of the Prussian partition area, only to be liberated from the Prussian reign through the victorious Wielkopolska Uprising of 1918–1919. The town has fallen victim to many great fires across the centuries.
The town was liberated from the Nazi occupation on 26th January 1945.
Today, it is an industrial and services hub.
South-west of the market square is a late-baroque church of Our Lady the Immaculately from 1767–1779 (designed probably by Antoni Höhne). This three-nave temple has a rococo outfit and tower built in 1831.
At the square by the parsonage is a monument featuring a bust of Robert Koch, made in 2005. At 12 Kocha St., a former hospital building houses a Regional Museum branch devoted to the scholar’s remembrance.
The former Evangelical Ascension Church of 1830–1835, bearing late-classicist and neo-Romanesque traits, which every year is the scene of the International Organ and Chamber Music Festival, is situated at 5-Stycznia St.
At 5-Stycznia St., in the house (built 1933–1934) where Marcin Rożek once lived, a Regional Museum named after him is housed today, the adjacent garden being the site of a gallery of the artist’s original sculpture works.
On the western bank of Wolsztyńskie Lake, some 800 away of the town’s centre, located is the West-Wielkopolska Folk Buildings Heritage Park, a branch of the Regional Museum of Wolsztyn.
In Fabryczna Street, on the brink of the railway station is an open-air museum of operational steam locomotives, housed in a locomotive shed of 1907. Among some thirty engines, Piękna Helena [‘Beautiful Helen’] from 1937 triggers most interest.