ZAMEK Culture Centre

THE CASTLE MENAGERIE \ exhibition


The erstwhile Imperial Castle in Poznań (then Posen) was built to manifest German rule in the region and parade Germanic culture. The unusual architectural form of the edifice constituted a substantial intervention into the cityscape and, unsurprisingly, was quite severely criticized. The monumental facades were adorned with great attention paid to the visual elements, both in terms of technical execution and the meanings they conveyed. Next to representations of German rulers (removed during World War II) and imposing bas-reliefs showing Teutonic knights (on the tower, on either side of the clock face) there were also the still surviving low reliefs including illustrations to the Nibelungenlied. Above them, on the gables of the Throne Hall, there were full figures of the Brunswick Lions, and variedly-sized reliefs which were either direct illustrations or references to the popular tales written down by the Brothers Grimm, among others (mainly on the side facades of the castle and walls of the Coach House).

Emperor Wilhelm II, whose frequent contributions to the design could not be refused, was convinced that national fables and legends were an important element in furthering German culture on Polish land. Still, one cannot help the impression that through such interventions the emperor wished to lend a touch of a fairy-tale appeal to the castle.


A considerable amount of the decorative features was removed during the wartime conversion of the castle. Those which have survived are not wholly intelligible to the contemporary viewer. Nonetheless, it would be worthwhile to take a closer look at what has remained, especially that numerous representations include animals, both the well-known and the more exotic, with a number of fantastic beasts of top of that: birds, squirrels, partridges, horses, wolves, snakes, dragons, fish, monkeys, lambs, foxes... They all are the CASTLE MENAGERIE. If you would like to see them, this is your chance!


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