The tourist route around right-bank Śrem was created in 2008. It extends along 14 landmarks of the old town. These are the most important and the most significant places in this part of Śrem which contributed to the development of Śrem and its current shape.
A TOURIST ROUTE AROUND RIGHT-BANK ŚREM
1. Canoe Marina on the Warta River
The town of Śrem is located in the province of Greater Poland (Wielkopolska), south of Poznań, on the Warta River, at a point in which its flow, coming across a plateau edge, changes from latitudinal to longitudinal. The town rests on both banks of the river, in two different geographical regions. Right-bank Śrem is located in the Śrem Basin, whereas the town’s southern part – occupying the left and upper bank of the Warta – lies in the Kościan Plain.
Śrem developed at a crossing of the Warta on an old trade route from Silesia to Poznań and Gniezno. It is numbered among the oldest towns in Greater Poland. The first written record of the town is in the Bull of Gniezno issued in 1136 by Pope Innocent II. Śrem was granted a charter in 1253 by the dukes of Greater Poland Przemysł I and Boleslaus the Pious. Following wartime destruction, King Władysław II Jagiełło granted Śrem a charter for the second time, moving the town to Kobylec Island.
After the Second Partition of Poland of 1793, Śrem became a county town. Failures of national uprisings when the region was under Prussian rule helped popularise the slogan of the so-called organic work, of which Śrem was the leading centre in Greater Poland. This rise in the town’s significance and the organic work slogan contributed to the development of local craft and industry.
Some of the important figures that have been connected with the town are: the Barski brothers: Jan, Maciej and Andrzej – distinguished Poles of the Sigismund III Vasa period, Józef Wybicki – author of the Polish national anthem, the Reverend Piotr Wawrzyniak – one of the founding fathers of cooperative banking, Heliodor Święcicki – the first vice-chancellor of Poznań University.
At present, Śrem is one of the fastest developing towns in Greater Poland Province. Companies with Polish and foreign capital have their headquarters here, of which the “Śrem” Iron Foundry is the largest.
The town is the seat of a local branch of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. Within the framework of a foreign contacts programme, Śrem cooperates with the partner towns of Bergen near Hanover, Germany, and Rožnov pod Radhoštĕm, the Czech Republic.
Śrem is an interesting holiday spot for guests and tourists, who can find here access to good tourist infrastructure on the Warta River and Lake Grzymisławskie. There are three municipal parks in the town, where its inhabitants can relax. In order to make active recreation available to the inhabitants and visitors and enable them to take advantage of the nature and landscape values of the Śrem region, numerous hiking and cycling trails have been marked out.
As a way of opening the town to the Warta River, a canoe marina was opened in September 2007.
The tiny triangular place at the exit of Wyszyńskiego and Kościuszki Streets, formerly Mostowa and Rzeźnicka Streets, used to be called “Pumpenplatz” (Pump Square). This name comes from Śrem’s first public water pump operating here from the early 1860s. The “Pumpenplatz” pump served the inhabitants until the first years of the 20th century, when the Waterworks Company was built and commissioned in the town, and running water was supplied to most of the houses. In the 1990s, during some sewage and water system works, a wooden pipe was dug out which turned out to be part of the medieval municipal sewage system. Another, humorous, name for the place was once “Paris Square”.
3. Reverend P. Wawrzyniak Cooperative Bank
Built around 1910, this building is topped with a Baroque gable and has Art Nouveau elements in the façade. A 1933 low relief (designed by sculptor Władysław Marcinkowski) is put on one of the building’s walls to commemorate the Reverend Piotr Wawrzyniak, the long-time director of the bank housed in it. The history of the Reverend P. Wawrzyniak Cooperative Bank reaches back as far as the middle of 19th century. In 1850 in the Śrem region, Polish League activists led by the Reverend Tomasz Borowicz, together with Leon Śmitkowski and Cezary Plater of Mórka, established the Savings and Bill Loans Society in Śrem. The Society, being one of many institutions of this kind that sprung up in that period, survived hard times in its life. As a result of its reorganisation, and – above all – thanks to financial support from industrialists, the Industrialists’ and Agricultural Club’s Loan Bank was established in Śrem. On 29 May 1873, at the Bank’s General Members' Meeting, its name was changed into the Bank Ludowy (Popular Bank) in Śrem, and the Reverend Piotr Wawrzyniak was soon appointed its cashier, and then director. Throughout the period of Prussian rule, the Bank was one of the most important Polish institutions in town and provided financial support to Polish craftsmen and farmers. This institution reached its full bloom in the era of the Reverend Piotr Wawrzyniak’s management.
Śrem’s history is hard to imagine without the Bank. In 1995, the Bank assumed the name “the Reverend P. Wawrzyniak Popular Cooperative Bank”, thus commemorating its founder. Inside the building there is an exhibition room devoted to the Reverend Wawrzyniak and testifying to the lasting memory the bankers have of the man who did so much for the bank and the Śrem region.
4. Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The mighty silhouette of the Gothic Parish Church with its tall tower dominates the panorama of the town. The compact building of the church is adjoined from the west by a 62-metre tower topped with an early-Baroque dome. Late-Gothic tiered church gables, decorated with pinnacles, panels and open-work, have been preserved. The western gable, hardly visible, is hidden in the tower. On the outside, the church is wrapped with multi-tiered buttresses. The inside is covered by precious 15th - 16th century stellar vaults. The inside of the church is mainly divided into a rectangular three-span chancel and a nave matching the width of the chancel.
The construction date of the church is unknown. Presumably, its erection was started immediately after the second granting of a charter to Śrem in 1393; the first record of the church in 1421 mentions the foundation of one of its altars. Originally, the church had no tower, which was added towards the end of the 16th century. This form has been preserved until today without any major external deformations. Due to a major alteration of the interior in 1892, the church was deprived of its valuable equipment and commemorative plaques. The most valuable element of the interior décor is a late-Renaissance painting, apparently made by Andrzej Stuss around 1620, titled Adoration of the Virgin Mary by Saint Adalbert and Saint Stanislaus. The main altar was built in 1892 using late-Baroque sculptures of St. Peter and St. Paul. Its centre is occupied by a copy of an original painting by Titian called the Assumption of the Virgin from the Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. Another interesting piece of historical interest is a Mannerist wall gravestone of Jerzy Jączyński, now kept in the porch under the tower. In the side chapel, some Sgraffito murals made by Jan Berdyszak in 1955 are noteworthy.
Near the church wall stands a Baroque stone figure of Saint John of Nepomuk of 1734; below are two foundation plaques and paintings on sheet metal.
5. Market Square
The Market Square, currently the Square of the 20th October, used to be the centre of the medieval town located on an island which is referred to as Ostrów or Kobylec in the document granting the town a charter for the second time in 1393. Initially, the Market Square was spindle-shaped and reached as far as the Parish Church. It took the shape of a (160 m x 90 m) rectangle, typical of medieval towns, at the beginning of the 16th century. The Market Square frontages are formed by 19th century tenement houses.
Places of interest in the Market Square are:
• The 1838 Town Hall. The building was built in the “round arch” style, which was popular in the 19th century and drew on Renaissance and Neoclassical models. Today it is the seat of the town authorities.
• A monument with a bust of Józef Wybicki (designed by Grzegorz Kowalski) of 1981, which commemorates the event when Józef Wybicki was made a freeman of the town.
• A memorial plaque (designed by Józef Berdyszak) of 1946 put at the place of execution of 19 outstanding inhabitants of the town shot on 20 October 1939 by a Nazi firing squad. The plaque also commemorates Śrem’s citizens shot on 8 November 1939 at the Zbrudzewo firing range.
• A plaque in honour of the fallen graduates of the Non-Commissioned Officers School for Minors, which was open in Śrem from 1931 to 1939 (designed by Marian Banasiewicz).
• A chapel with the figure of the Virgin Mary with the Infant of 1841 founded to commemorate the containing of a cholera epidemic that ravaged the town 10 years before.
• The oldest (1872) tenement house in the Market Square at 1 Kościuszki Street.
The Gymnasium (Grammar School), presently High School named after Gen. Józef Wybicki, is one of the oldest schools of this kind in Greater Poland. Its history reaches back to the year 1858, when the school was founded. In the 1861/1862 school year it received the status of a pro-gymnasium, only to become a fully-recognised gymnasium in 1866. The first matura (school-leaving) examination entitling its graduates to apply for admission to higher education institutions was held on 16 April 1866. In 1870 the school was moved to a new building, where it has remained until today. Its first headmaster was Hermann Geist, and the name of Gen. Józef Wybicki was conferred on the school in 1922. From the school year of 1934-1935, the school was co-educational. During the Nazi occupation, the building housed military troops, and subsequently a German co-educational secondary boarding school. After the liberation of Śrem, the school reopened in April 1945. Some of its graduates are the Reverend Piotr Wawrzyniak, Prof. Heliodor Święcicki, Prof. Antoni Kalina, Teodor Jeske-Choiński.
In front of the school lies a glacial erratic boulder put here in 1984 and bearing an information plaque about the staff of the Greater Poland Cavalry Brigade of the Poznań Army under the command of Gen. Roman Abraham, which was stationed here in 1939.
Across the street, building no. 12 housed Feliks Sałaciński’s private museum until the year 1952; his collection later initiated the development of the Śrem Museum.
7. The Post-Franciscan Monastery Complex
The contemporary complex is the third seat of the Franciscan Order in Śrem after the Old Town and Żabikowo. The monastery was built in Ostrówek, a quarter separated from the Market Square buildings by the Black Stream (today Dutkiewicza Street). The Baroque building complex (17th/18th century) consists of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the former Franciscan monastery. The church is a three-aisle structure with a narrower and older chancel. A barrel vault with lunettes, ornamented with late-Renaissance moulding, covers the chancel, whereas the nave is covered by a domical vault.
The interior furnishings come mainly from Baroque and Rococo. In the main altar, a painting called The Adoration of the Virgin Mary by Two Franciscans from the 18th century has been preserved.
The valuable Rococo stalls in the chancel were also made in the 18th century. The nave contains a pulpit, made in 1817, shaped to resemble St. Peter’s boat under sail, with folk art features. The outside wall, at the entrance, bears a plaque commemorating the Reverend Antoni Rzadki, executed in 1939, the director of the archiepiscopal school located in the monastery. There are four listed yew trees in front of the church.
The monastery buildings, slightly younger than the church, are composed of three wings making up a square cloister garth adjacent to the church. At the entrance to the monastery cloisters, there is a small plaque in honour of Father Hieronim Gruszecki from 1754. A local legend associates the plaque with a popular tale of a monk who was bricked in the wall. Another legend tells of an underground tunnel under the Warta River and joining the monastery in Ostrówek with the old, first seat of the Order, the so-called Little Monastery in the Old Town. The wall surrounding the monastery features Baroque figures of Saint Francis and Saint Anthony, and the date of 1779.
Behind the monastery, in Franciszkańska Street, there is a Neoclassical building of former Landwehr (Prussian National Guard) barracks from 1859 (currently housing the court) and the premises of the former gasworks and waterworks on the so-called Wolnica.
8. The Greater Poland Insurgents’ Municipal Park
The park is among Greater Poland’s larger and finer parks. Its origins date back to 1888, when the Śrem Beautification Society created a playground in the area of the municipal pastures. It was the Reverend Piotr Wawrzyniak who suggested the creation of a park in 1891. More extensive works were started in 1924 under the management of Sylwester Szczepkowski – president of the Śrem Beautification Society. In spite of frequent plantings of trees and bushes, the flora of the park is mainly native and of largely natural origin. In 1969 the park was named after the Greater Poland’s Insurgents commemorating the rise of the Polish population in 1918. In the same year, at the entrance to the Park, the Greater Poland Uprising Cross was erected and the reconstructed Drummer monument unveiled. Amidst the flora of the park there are a few monuments, e.g. the Polish Solders’ Monument, one dedicated to the park’s creators, and some park sculptures. In the vicinity of the ponds, visitors can see remains of an early medieval castle, the so-called Jewish Hills, a place connected with the beginnings of Śrem. It was here where from the 10th to 13th centuries a fortified settlement guarded the crossing over the Warta River.
9. The Drummer Monument
The Drummer – a monument to the Greater Poland’s Insurgents, recognised as the most beautiful monument commemorating the Uprising, was erected in 1925 in Śrem’s Market Square, as a monument to Freedom and Insurgents. It was designed by Władysław Marcinkowski, one of Greater Poland’s best sculptors. In 1939 the Nazis destroyed the monument and sank the pedestal in the marsh on the edges of the park. In 1959 the pedestal was salvaged and, pursuant to the local authorities’ decision, moved into the park. In 1961 the Greater Poland Uprising Cross was placed on it. On order from the County Board for the Protection of Fighting and Martyrdom Monuments, Poznań-based artist Jerzy Sobociński made a replica of the Drummer. The restored monument was unveiled on 14 June 1969.
10. The New Market Square
The New Market Square was often called “Gasplatz”. The name refers to the gasworks standing here in the 19th century, which made gas out of crude oil. The square is closed by the building of the Junior High School No 2 from 1916.
In the vicinity of the bus stop, at Matuszewskiego Street (formerly Żydowska, or Jewish, Street), there was a Jewish synagogue, dismantled in 1969 owing to the construction of a new bridge route. The small area to the south-east of the square and in the vicinity of the synagogue used to be referred to as Synagogue, due to the fact that the area was populated by Jews.
The house at 2 Matuszewskiego Street bears a plaque installed in 1978 to commemorate Seweryn Matuszewski, a physician, an organiser of the Greater Poland Uprising and a long-time president of the Cooperative Bank in Śrem, who was executed by a Nazi firing squad in the Market Square on 20 October 1939.
11. The Stanisław Chudoba (1913-1943) Plaque
Stanisław Chudoba was born in 1913 in Chrzanów. In 1921 his family moved to Śrem. He attended the local elementary school and gymnasium, and in 1931 he passed his school leaving examinations. He graduated from the Faculty of Law and Economics of Poznań University. During his studies, he joined the Polish Workers’ Party. In 1937 he moved to Warsaw and started working on the “Worker’s Weekly” and “Peasants’ Truth” editorial staffs.
In the first days of September 1939 he fought in the ranks of defenders of Warsaw, and then spent 5 months in a POW camp. After he returned to Warsaw, he joined the conspiracy movement. In 1941 he contributed to the creation of the Polish Socialists of which he was appointed Secretary General. After this organisation was transformed into the Workers’ Party of Polish Socialists, Stanisław Chudoba was elected its Deputy-President and edited its press organ “Worker”. Stanisław Chudoba was arrested in a street round-up in Warsaw on 8 December 1943, after which the Nazis executed him as one of anonymous hostages. The memorial plaque was placed in 1958 on the house (11 Piłsudskiego Street) in which he lived.
12. The Old Market Square
The name Old Market Square, in use since the 18th century, has no historical justification. It is a former suburb called Żabikowo. The Śrem Franciscan monks had here, from the 15th to 18th century, their second seat with the Church of the Holy Cross. Later on, the square was used as the town’s market place. When the province of Greater Poland was under Prussian rule, the number 5 building housed the Bazar hotel and restaurant, a traditional meeting place for Poles. In 1939, the House of the Greater Poland Insurgent was opened in it. Next to it, there is a sports hall, traditionally referred to as Bazar, which is a place inseparably related to the successes of fencing in Śrem. This is the place where Tadeusz Mieloszyński was a long-time coach. Now an annual Memorial Fencing Contest is held to commemorate him. In front of the hall, there is a former Evangelical school from 1913, which today houses Maria Grzegorzewska School.
13. The Church of the Holy Ghost
The first wooden church and hospital of the Holy Ghost was built at the beginning of the 15th century on the outskirts of the new town on the river crossing. The first written record of it is from 1421. Presumably, it soon fell into ruin and at the beginning of the 16th century it was referred to as a chapel. The construction of a new brick church was founded by the Barski brothers: Jan – a Cracow archdeacon and Queen Anna Jagiellon’s confessor and preacher, and Andrzej – a Warsaw custodian and ecclesiastical judge, secretary of King Sigismund III Vasa. Together with the church, a new brick hospital was erected, as well.
The late-Gothic church is made of bricks laid in the Polish brick-laying system, with one nave and an unseparated chancel, covered by a tall gable roof. The façade was ornamented with quadrangular turrets and a pointed-arch gable in 1840, when it had been taken over by Protestants and rebuilt. The church’s interior, with balconies characteristic of Evangelical churches, dates back to the time of rebuilding. The main altar contains a large Mannerist crucifix dating back to around 1630.
14. Bridge abutment
The bridge abutment is a remnant of a metal and wood bridge disassembled in 1970. The history of Śrem’s bridges is very interesting. It is said that “Śrem has always had its bridge”, even though the first written record of such comes from as late as 1433. It is precisely the convenient crossing place over the Warta River that Śrem owes its creation to. The Warta, unregulated until the end of the 19th century, ran along a vastly flooded channel with numerous branches. As a consequence, getting through Śrem required combined transport across bridges and along causeways. In order to travel from one side of the town to the other, one needed to cross as many as 5 bridges.
In 1970 a new concrete bridge with a flyover was put into use. On both sides of the Bridge named after the 23rd January (date of liberation in 1945), there are plaques commemorating that event.
On the other side of the river, near the old left-bank bridge abutment there is a memorial cross, and below there is a water-level indicator placed in 1822, whose zero level is set at the height of 57.966 m. The alarm point for the Warta in Śrem is 450 cm, whereas the average water level is at around 300 cm. The highest water level of 604 cm was recorded on 1 June 1924, and the lowest of 110 cm on 10 February 1959.