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The Warsaw Voice » Society » July 29, 2011
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Santa Maria and Other Wonders
July 29, 2011   
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A wealth of wonders are on hand to delight those passing through the western town of Puszczykowo (near Poznań), which is the home of a private museum commemorating Arkady Fiedler, a Polish writer and traveler who lived from 1894 to 1985.

Visitors to the museum, at 1 Słowackiego St., are in for a surprise as they pass by and see a historic ship in the front yard. A closer look reveals that the ship is a replica of the legendary Santa Maria used by Christopher Columbus (pict.1,2,3).

Over the 91 years of his life, Fiedler made more than 30 expeditions to different corners of the world. On his first trip in 1928, he traveled to southern Brazil and into the Amazonian rainforest. Later, he traveled across Mexico, Indochina, returned to Brazil, went to Madagascar and repeatedly explored Africa. During World War II, he was a pilot in the Royal Air Force’s legendary Polish 303 Squadron that fought in the Battle of Britain.

Over the years, Fiedler brought countless zoological and botanical specimens from his expeditions and donated many of them to various institutions. He also authored many publications about his travels, including 32 books which to date have sold over 10 million copies in 23 languages.

Fiedler settled in Puszczykowo after the war, in 1946. Encouraged by his readers, in 1974, he opened a private museum for his travel trophies.

Visitors to the museum are welcomed at the gate by a mysterious Sphinx figure (pict.4). Behind the Sphinx is a 1:23 scale model of the Pyramid of Cheops, which was built observing all the proportions, angles and geographical orientation of the original. The pyramid is said to concentrate cosmic energy, a portion of which you can absorb by walking inside.

As you walk to the other side of the yard, you will pass by a native American totem (pict.5) and cross the Gateway of the Sun, the original of which is located near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. There you will enter a section dedicated to the culture of native North Americans, which includes a teepee, a genuine canoe, and a statue of Sitting Bull, the great tribal chief. Nearby stands a statue from Easter Island (pict.6), several meters tall, and a colossal Olmec head from Mexico. On the wall of the nearby building there is a disk-shaped Aztec calendar and in the basement, guarded by Aztec emperor Montezuma (pict.7), you can see statues of Columbus and the ruthless Fernando Cortez, the conquistador who destroyed the Aztec state.

After you leave the Americas, you will see a giant replica of statue of Buddha from the Afghan province of Bamiyan (pict.8). The original was dynamited and destroyed by the Taliban. This section of the museum is called the Garden of Culture and Tolerance and along with the Sphinx and the pyramid, it includes the imposing, 1:1 scale, replica of the Santa Maria, the flagship of Christopher Columbus.

Now open to the public, the replica took four years to build. It was “launched” May 12, 2008, by a descendant of the famous explorer.

The museum building houses trophies including ritual masks, tam-tams, weapons (bows, arrows, spears and blowpipes), beautiful tropical butterflies, and live piranhas in fish tanks.

The attractions do not end there, as Fiedler’s sons Arkady Jarosław and Marek are not resting on their laurels and construction is under way on a new 1:1 scale replica. It will be the famous Hawker Hurricane MK1 fighter flown by pilots from the Polish 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain in 1940. The airplane will be completed this year.
Dariusz Pietrzak

For more information on the Arkady Fiedler Museum go to www.fiedler.pl
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