Szczecin (population approx. 420 000) is the capital of Western Pomerania, situated on the banks of the Oder and the Dąbie Lake, within 60kms from the seaside and only 150kms from Berlin. A modern seaport city and the historical seat of Pomeranian princes, it boasts a verdant landscape, valuable landmarks and an interesting cultural life.
The beginnings of Szczecin reach as far back as the 9th century as a Slavic settlement. The stronghold's history was tied to the Griffin Dynasty from the 13th century. The last of the Pomeranian princes died in 1637 and the town passed under the stormy reign of Swedish, Prussian and even French rulers (during the Napoleonic Wars). During the 19th century it belonged to Prussia and it was then that it became a key seaport. Completely ruined during World War 2, Szczecin became part of Poland in 1945.
Modern day Szczecin is the largest industrial area in the north-west of the country, primarily in the shipyard industry. It is also an important cultural and academic centre.
Szczecin is one of the greenest cities in Poland, surrounded by three forests: Wkrzańska, Bukowa and Goleniowska (forests and parks comprise 20% of its surface area), with the surrounding vast waters and backwaters providing a wonderful place for rest and recreation. The abundance of historical monuments serves as testimony to the age-old greatness of the city's early beginnings.
One of the most well-known of these is the majestic castle rising above Castle Hill, the House of Griffins' residence for several hundred years. Another noteworthy landmark is the so-called New Old Town, almost completely destroyed during World War 2 and later rebuilt on the remaining foundations according to old floor plans. The Chrobry Embankment, Szczecin's hallmark avenue, is a uniquely special place, with its wide steps and observation decks offering stunning panoramic views of the harbour, canals and waterfront.
More must-sees include St. Jacob's Cathedral, the treasures of the Maritime Museum, a walk along Fountain Avenue, a train ride around Jasne Błonia and a cruise around the harbour and Dąbie Lake.
Keep June free in your calendar for Sea Days, Szczecin's largest celebration, a tradition dating back more than 500 years.
Popular sightseeing routes:
- City Tourist Route (marked with red stripes on the pavement): the route is 7kms long and leads through Szczecin's most attractive parts, pinpointing 42 spots where the city's fascinating history played out.
- Bukowa - Glinna Forest (dendrological garden) - Kołbacz (church and Cistercian buildings) - Kobylanka (Wreath of Concord, lapidarium)
- Stargard Szczeciński (town hall, Holy Virgin Mary church, fortifications, Basteja Museum, St. John's church), Pędzino (castle)
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