Route 6: City Centre

Start your tour at the Emperor's Castle , situated in Św. Marcin Street, one of Poznań's major arteries. This huge neo-Romanesque building, designed by Franz Schwechten, was constructed in the years 1905-10 and officially opened by Kaiser Wilhelm II. It was a seat of Polish presidents in the inter-war period and Hitler's residence during World War 2, when it was remodelled under the supervision of Albert Speer. In the Rose Courtyard we can find the fountain modelled on the 13th-century lions fountain in the Alhambra, Granada. At present, the castle is the seat of the Zamek Culture Centre, the Animacji Theatre and many other institutions. It is a venue for numerous exhibitions, meetings and concerts. Every year, on St. Martin's Day (11th November), when the Św. Marcin Street's festival is celebrated, the castle is open to visitors.

Going down Św. Marcin Street, turn into Gwarna Street, then into 27 Grudnia, one of Poznań's major shopping streets, and head for Wolności Square. Go past the Okrąglak, a cylinder-shaped department store on your left, then past the Polski Theatre, whose construction was funded by voluntary contributions from Poles in all the districts of partitioned Poland. Continuing eastwards brings you to the renovated Arkadia building, the seat of the City Information Centre (CIM) . In the nineteenth century it was a theatre; from 1927 the building housed the Poznań radio studio.

Further on is Wolności Square with the Raczyński Library on its northern edge. This classical building was erected in the first half of the nineteenth century thanks to Count Edward Raczyński, who donated both his book collection and this building to the city of Poznań. Its beautiful, classical colonnade is modelled on the eastern façade of the Louvre. In 1945 the library and its book collection burned down. Fortunately, manuscripts and old publications were removed from the building prior to that, and thus survived the war. Rebuilt in 1956, the building currently houses the library and the special-collection reading room. It is also a venue for various meetings and exhibitions.

At the eastern end of the square turn right and go up Marcinkowskiego Avenue to St. Martin's Church . Constructed at the beginning of the sixteenth century, it was repeatedly remodelled and finally reconstructed in the 1940s-1950s. Its interior is decorated with paintings by Wacław Taranczewski. The large altar has a Gothic triptych made in Silesia in 1498. In one of the aisles you can see a wooden painted statue of the Virgin Mary made in the Gothic style in 1510.

Walking down Św. Marcin Street brings you to Wiosny Ludów Square. Straight-ahead is Półwiejska Street, a pedestrian zone also known as deptak. This busy shopping street starts with the Old Marych monument. What makes the Old Marych monument unique is that it is dedicated to a fictitious character. The fictitious character of Old Marych features in newspaper columns written in the Poznań dialect by Juliusz Kubel. The statue, which is close to every Poznanian, was made by Robert Sobociński.

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