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Szczecin Sights – The most beautiful places in Szczecin Poland

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Today we take you once again to beautiful Poland and introduce you to Szczecin. Here you will not only learn everything about the eventful past of the city, but we will also show you the most beautiful Szczecin sights and of course, where we had the best food during our trip.

This is Szczecin

Szczecin is the most northwestern major city in Poland and is located at the mouth of the Oder River into the Szczecin Lagoon. It is just 10 km from the center to the German border and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The city experienced a real boom after the Second World War and today has 400,000 inhabitants, which makes it the seventh largest city in the country (behind Gdańsk and ahead of Bydgoszcz). The city is best known for the spectacular Philharmonic Hall, the Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes and the Wały Chrobrego. Economically, the port is of particular importance, and there are three universities in Szczecin. Incidentally, the inhabitants of the city are jokingly called paprykarzy after a dish of herring, rice, tomatoes and onions, which is often available in canned food.

This postcard shows Szczecin in German times. If you compare the view with the picture from Wały Chrobrego below, you will see that surprisingly little has changed in this part of the city.

The History of Szczecin

Szczecin’s roots date back to the early Middle Ages, when Slavic tribes settled here. In the 13th century, several local communities were united under the Pomeranian Duke Barnim I. and were granted city rights; the actual city was born. Due to its favorable location at the northern end of the Odra River, Szczecin quickly developed into an important trade center and joined the Hanseatic League as early as 1278. Otto I of the House of the Griffins, the Pomeranian dukes, made the city his residence in 1309.

In the 16th century, the Reformation was introduced in Szczecin, as in the whole of Pomerania. At that time, the already existing castle was also rebuilt into a Renaissance-style complex, which after the destruction of the Second World War today shines again in its former glory. In 1630 the city was then taken by Swedish troops. It was to remain under Swedish control for over 80 years before falling to Prussia under Frederick William I. Under the ruler known as the Soldier King, Szczecin was then developed into a modern fortress city, which can still be seen in parts of the cityscape today.

In 1815, Szczecin then underwent a significant upgrade, as it was declared the capital of the province of Pomerania within Prussia and thus the administrative seat of an area that reached as far west as just before Rostock and as far east as just before Gdańsk, as well as encompassing large parts of the Baltic hinterland. The following decades were characterized by industrialization, with the port in particular playing an increasingly important role. Due to its location not far from the Baltic Sea, the city was an easy target for air raids during World War II and over 90 percent of the old town was destroyed.

View of the war destruction in the old town

After World War II, it was initially unclear what would happen to Szczecin. After all, the city’s territory extended on both sides of the Odra River, which was to form the border between the newly founded GDR and the People’s Republic of Poland. Initially, therefore, the city west of the Odra was still administered by German communists after the war, before it was handed over to Poland and the German population was expelled.

How critical the newly settled Polish residents here were towards the communist rulers was shown in 1970 and 1980, when there were riots and strikes that were very important for the emergence of Solidarność and thus for the later downfall of communism in Poland. Since 1999, Szczecin has been the capital of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. Despite the general decline of shipyards, the city’s economic prospects look very good and its proximity to the Baltic Sea and the German border make it attractive for investors.

These are the most beautiful Szczecin sights

As you can see, Szczecin can look back on a rather eventful German-Polish past. And this can still be felt today in many places in the center and the outskirts of the city. So it’s high time to introduce you to the most beautiful Szczecin sights in more detail!

Szczecin sights

Castle of the Dukes of Pomerania

When one thinks of Szczecin in Poland, the first thing that comes to mind for many is the Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes, also known as the Griffin Castle. No wonder, it is one of the most magnificent Renaissance castles in the country! The castle is not the first of its kind in the city, because already in the 14th century the representative seat of the Griffin dukes stood here. Due to disputes with the local residents, the construction of the castle dragged on for a long time, and then under the Italian Renaissance specialist Antonio Wilhelmi it was given more or less its present form. In Prussian times, the future King Frederick William IV lived here for a time.

Today, the castle, which was extensively rebuilt after World War II, serves as home to various institutions, such as a registry office and a theater. It is also home to the excellent Na Kuncu Korytarza restaurant (see below). You can easily visit the courtyard. Be sure to take a look at the strange tower clock from the 17th century. Here you can see a bizarre mask that turns its eyes in the direction of the hand and shows the exact date. You also shouldn’t miss a climb up the bell tower, from which you’ll have a great view of the city! All this makes the Griffin Castle the most historically significant of all Szczecin sights.

Cathedral

Via ulica Grodzka you can get from the castle directly to the Cathedral of St. James. It is the most important church in the city. Together with the Kamień Pomorski Cathedral, the church is the seat of the Archbishop of Szczecin-Kamień Pomorski and was built in the Gothic style from the 13th century. Also due to the Reformation, only a few of the church’s former 52(!) altars remain, but they are well worth seeing. The building with its unusually long choir has a great light atmosphere and appears bright and open. An interesting detail for music fans: the first performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy took place here in 1735. Two elevators take you comfortably to a viewing platform, from which you have a great view of the city!

View of the Eagle Fountain, which does not look so white here due to the light, and the Academy of Arts with the globe on the roof gable

White Eagle Square/Horse Market

Immediately north of the cathedral is a small square dominated by the so-called Globus Palace. The neo-baroque magnificent building was erected in 1890 for the “Allgemeine Versicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft National” and today serves as the seat of the Szczecin Academy of Arts. In front of the building stands the magnificent White Eagle Fountain, which gave the square its name. It was created by Berlin architect Johann Friedrich Grael in the 18th century and was the first part of the city’s modern water supply system. After the Second World War, many German fountains and statues were destroyed. However, the fountain-eagle was fortunate that the bald eagle also adorns the Polish national coat of arms, so it is still allowed to spread its wings today.

The front of the marine academy exudes an almost mystical aura

Wały Chrobrego

The dispute as to which of the many historic Szczecin sights is the most magnificent must be settled between Wały Chrobrego and the castle. But the long, 500-meter-long complex certainly has good arguments: the street, named after the then mayor Hermann Haken (its German name is Hakenterrasse), is home to some of the most magnificent buildings from around 1900.

Szczecin sights

As you can see in the picture, it is actually a terrace that is based above a stylized grotto. On either side of the magnificent staircase is a stylized lighthouse pavilion. The huge building on the right is the Voivodeship Office and thus the most important administrative building in West Pomerania. On the left, on the other hand, you can see the impressive building of the National Museum, to which the staircase leads directly. Right next to it is the Maritime Academy, which you can see in the photo above. It offers different courses of studies around the topic of seafaring, freighters and electrical engineering. At the top of the terrace you have a great view over the Oder River to the modern port of the city!

National Museum

The National Museum was founded shortly before the outbreak of World War I as the Szczecin City Museum and has been in operation ever since. But those who expect a mere narration of the city’s history here are mistaken. Rather, there is almost nothing in the National Museum that does not exist: medieval Pomeranian art, 16th- and 17th-century paintings, copies of ancient bronze sculptures, and a huge ethnological collection that even includes entire replica African villages! It’s also home to the Modern Theater, where you can see many Polish plays. However, these special performance spaces are eclipsed by another venue, the Modern Philharmonic Hall, located just a stone’s throw from the museum.

Philharmonic Hall

Inaugurated in 2014, the building designed by architects Alberto Veiga and Fabrizio Barozzi was even awarded the Mies van der Rohe Prize in 2014, the most important European architecture award. If there is no performance, you can visit the impressive foyer with its curved staircase and have a snack in the museum café. The performances are really worthwhile and are also very inexpensive. You can also find tickets in German on the Philharmonic’s website. There are also guided tours in English once a month on a Friday.

Szczecin sights

Upheavals

What might stand behind the strange name Upheavals? During our visit to Szczecin, we didn’t know exactly what to expect either. A spectacular entrance next to the Philharmonic Hall leads into the underground, where a dark, fascinating and varied exhibition is on display that focuses on life after the upheaval that the end of World War II marked for Szczecin. Special emphasis is placed on Szczecin’s importance in the context of workers’ unrest and the emergence of the Solidaność movement. Cool feature of the National Museum’s subsection: here you could make a 3D visit if the exhibition should be closed at the moment. Just click on the play button and then on “Wejdź do środka”.

Szczecin sights
The monument to the insurgents, in the background you can see the impressive ensemble of the Philharmonic Hall and the Voivodeship Police. In between you can see the hill under which the “upheavals” center is located.

Monument to the insurgents

Above the museum is the Solidaność Square (plac Solidarności). Here stands an impressive bronze angel, weighing almost 10 tons, holding a stylized inscription with the word “December” (Polish: grudzień), which with a little imagination can also be interpreted for a crown of thorns, a symbol of the historical suffering of Poles. The angel commemorates the workers’ strike, which claimed numerous victims and was bloodily put down by the communist rulers. The monument was inaugurated in 2005, just in time for the 25th anniversary of the August Agreements. These were several treaties concluded between the communists and opposition leaders. The Szczecin Agreement was the first of them, and thus the first in the entire Eastern Bloc at that time, in which an opposition movement was recognized by the state power.

Szczecin sights

Hay Market

Today’s Rynek Sienny (Hay Market) is a good example of how historical buildings were treated in Poland after the Second World War and why Polish restorers enjoy an excellent reputation worldwide. Just like large parts of the rest of the Old Town, the Haymarket was almost completely destroyed by bombing. Here, more than anywhere else, you can feel what life must have been like in the city before the war. In summer, the Haymarket is also a popular meeting place, because in almost every house on the square is a café or restaurant. A special eye-catcher is the Old Town Hall (also rebuilt). The impressive brick building houses, among other things, the brewery restaurant Wyszak in its beautiful vault (see below).

Szczecin sights

Berlin Gate

Today, the Berlin Gate is usually called the Port Gate (Polish: Brama Portowa) and it is special in several respects. Namely, on the one hand, it is the old city gate that marked the entrance to the Szczecin fortress. On the other hand, somehow it seems to be the only place in the area that has not moved with the times, because around the gate roars traffic and there are numerous modern post-war buildings.

The magnificent baroque facade is intended to remind us that Szczecin, like other parts of Western Pomerania, was acquired by Prussia in 1720. Especially with the buildings in the surrounding area, this makes for an interesting contrast. Today, the gate houses a small theater. There is a second historic city gate in Szczecin, the King’s Gate, located further north, also on a crossroads.

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Main post office

Post office buildings are not usually among the places we introduce to you in our blog. But here we are happy to make an exception, because the huge brick building not far from the main station is one of the most beautiful post offices in the country. Externally, it resembles a kind of castle, inside the building presents itself in the style of the Neo-Renaissance filigree, especially the light-flooded hall with its glass roof is a real eye-catcher. If you have come by train, you can not only change money here at better conditions than at the main station, but also buy some of the beautiful Polish stamps as souvenirs.

Bunker beneath the main station

Hardly any of the Szczecin sights impressed us as much as the so-called Underground City Trails. To find them, you first have to search a bit, because the entrance is not in a building, but directly on platform 1 of the main station. From here you can embark on an exciting journey of discovery into the Szczecin Underworlds. The underground facility is the largest civilian air raid shelter in Szczecin. It was built by the Nazis and was one of the reasons why only a few thousand residents were killed by bombing during World War II, but it could hold thousands of people.

Here you can also learn about the exciting history of the facility in English. After the war, it continued to be used as an air-raid shelter, which is why information is also provided here about the Cold War, the period of socialism in Poland and everyday life at the time. The varied visit is rounded off by art installations that correspond well with the premises.

Szczecin sights

Central Cemetery

Now we leave the center, because the next two Szczecin sights are a little outside. The Central Cemetery (Polish: Cmentarz Centralny) is with an area of almost 179 hectares today the third largest cemetery in Europe and yet almost unknown in the West! The area was laid out around 1900 and until today more than 300,000 people have been buried here. From the beginning it was planned to use it also as a place for strolling, which is why there are a lot of different trees from different regions of the world, there are said to be more than 500 different species. Particularly impressive is the Monument to the Brotherhood of Arms, which you can see above. It was unveiled during the communist era and stands in the center of the military use part of the burial ground.

In addition, there are many other exciting places to discover, literally at every corner surprising perspectives open up. You should therefore take more than two hours to explore the fountains, memorials, graves, chapels and tree species, which are conveniently explained on information boards.

Museum of Technology and Communication

In the north of the city, you will find an exciting museum for technology fans in an old streetcar depot. Here you can see, among other things, numerous exhibits from the field of communication (the term is very broad), but especially many cars in excellent condition. The most significant of them come from the Stoewer factory. The company existed in Szczecin between 1858 and 1945 and produced, among other things, numerous luxury cars. The many exhibits you can admire here make up the largest Stoewer collection in the world! The car bodies are the new star in the Stettin exhibition sky, because until 2019 they were on display in Wald-Michelbach in Hesse.

Szczecin sights
Good place to go if you are hungry or thirsty: ulica Księcia Bogusława X

Eating and Drinking

After the many Szczecin sights you are certainly hungry. Here we have collected a few tips for you!

Szczecin sights
  • Na Kuncu Korytarza, in the castle of the Pomeranian Dukes. In the beautiful premises of the castle there is one of the best restaurants in the city. From Thursday to Saturday, you can enjoy not only the finest Polish jazz, but also delicious Polish cuisine. The specialty of the house are the herring dishes, after all, Szczecin’s inhabitans are not called Paprikarzy for nothing, as mentioned at the beginning.
Szczecin sights
  • Nowy Browar, ul. Partyzantów 2. The “New Brewery” is known far beyond the borders of the city and we have already discovered its products in other parts of Poland. Here you can find good Polish home cooking and pizzas, but especially several beers on tap, of which we found especially the Wheat beer excellent.
Szczecin sights
  • Wyszak, ul. Księcia Mściwoja II 8. Similarly beautiful as Na Kuncu Korytarza is the Wyszak Brewery, located in the vaults of the Old Town Hall on Haymarket. Here you can find various beers (including a tasting set) and multi-award-winning Polish cuisine of a high standard. And if you want to think of your loved ones at home, why not bring them a beer gift set from here?

Save money with the Szczecin Tourist Card

Last but not least, we would like to give you a tip on how you can explore the many beautiful sights of Szczecin comfortably and cheaply. Just buy the Szczecin Tourist Card. It is available for either 24 or 72 hours and costs only 15 or 25 Złoty, that is not even four or six euros. With it, you can use public transport for free, get a 50% discount in all museums and discounts in numerous other attractions, hotels and restaurants. For the low price, this is definitely an unbeatable offer!

We hope you enjoyed our little trip to West Pomerania to see the Szczecin sights . Feel free to leave a comment and tell us how you like the city.

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This article was written thanks to the generous support of the Polish Tourist Office Berlin.

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Markus Bingel has studied and worked in Poland, Ukraine and Russia for a long time. As a travel book author, he is drawn to the countries of the “Wild East” several times a year – and he is still fascinated by this region every time. As co-founder of Wild East, he would like to introduce you to the unknown, exciting and always surprising sides of Eastern Europe.

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