Imperial Castle

The monumental edifice that used to be a residence of the German emperor was built in the years 1904-1910 according to a design by Franz Schwechten, who apparently took on board many suggestions from Kaiser Wilhelm II himself. The castle was a pivotal element of "the castle district" projected as a visiting card of the city and testifying to its supposedly German origins.

The architecture of this neo - Romanesque, multipartite structure harks back to medieval castles, and its individual parts are modelled on Romanesque monuments in Germany and Italy. Most of the designs of the dressed - stone elevation and the interiors were made by Gotthold Riegelmann.

The whole structure is dominated by the tower with a clock, originally 74 metres high. Inside it a chapel was made in 1913. It was designed by August Oetken and modelled on the famous Capella Palatina in Palermo. In the east part of the edifice there was a magnificent throne chamber. Emperor Wilhelm II stayed here twice: first at the inauguration in 1910 and then in 1913.

In the years between the wars the castle was a residence of the Polish President and a part of it was used by the Poznań University. During the German occupation the edifice was rebuilt as a Hitler's official residence; it was then that the showy entrance from Święty Marcin Street was added. Also the tower chapel was closed and a small balcony built on the south wall.

The castle was so badly damaged in 1945 that some cogitated that it should be demolished. In the end it was rebuilt, but without restoring some elements of its external decorations. In addition, the tower destroyed during the wartime fighting was made some 20 metres lower.

Today the castle is run by a cultural entity, Centrum Kultury "Zamek". It also houses other institutions, such as the Animation Theatre and a cinema. In the Rose courtyard there is a fountain modelled on a 13th century lion fountain in the Alhambra Palace, Grenada.

In the small park adjacent to the castle there is a rock put here in 1990 to commemorate the victims of Katyń. In 1999 a monument to the victims was unveiled.

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