Monday, June 22, 2015

On the Streets of Poznan:

Walking through the streets of Poznan: a city on the western border of Poland, near to Germany, that's three hours from Berlin by train. Though, why take a train when one can fly–as Poznan has a brand new airport. Fly I did. A gem of a city that's–I dare to state–mostly overlooked by those who visit Poland; Poznan is no Warsaw or Gdansk–though what it lacks in terms of the number of its inhabitants, it readily makes up for in its architecture, art, and seemingly-endless urban offerings. A city that's sleepy, though steeped in history. Poznan's glory days have certainly come–quite a many century ago–and now faded. Nevertheless, its streets are gorgeous; wrought-iron lamp posts adorn nearly every street in the center, itself neatly planned and constructed around the time of the Renaissance, destroyed during the Second World War, and today reconstructed to all its former glory. While the center lacks its original buildings, their reconstructions retain their original spirit. Squinting, and looking upward, toward the gables atop the buildings the surround the Old Market Square; it's difficult not to be deceived–the architecture appears original. Some of it is, indeed, including the prominently positioned Town Hall, which dates from 1550; its architecture is overtly ornate, and I love that about it; the delightful fluidity found atop it, is similarly found within, upon, and throughout endless buildings in the country–though mostly those that emanate from the early modern period. Poznan is a pleasantly unexpected place to find one's self; it's secluded from the rest of Europe; it's full or gorgeous architecture–most of it painted pastel; and its citizens are friendly, fashionable, and fanatic about their city. The architecture in the city that's not painted pastel, often dates before the Renaissance, as does the Royal Castle, for which construction began in 1249. My mission for strolling through the streets of Poznan was perplexing: I was in the city, in search of painting in its National Museum, which I found hanging in a corner within its Dutch galleries, its black-wooden frame covered in thick dust. Endless are the galleries within that museum. I spent nearly two days in its seventeenth century galleries; so much art is there, and so little people to observe it present–I had the museum to myself. Perfect. Once I found the painting I had come to view, my mission was complete, and Poznan and I began to drift through a three-day writing affair; I waltzed between the museum, my room, and the city's streets–each walk full of architectural ornament upon which my eye could feast. I visited the city, to write about landscape painters active in Haarlem in the early-1600s, and prolific was my visit, as one of these pairings was there–and I'm convinced very few people have studied it with a purpose. Poznan, a city I'd never heard or, or though I would have ever needed to visit, is now, surprisingly, so very close to my heart.