7 Killer Destinations Without The Crowds In Szczecin, Poland – Stettin Lagoon
The Port of Szczecin, Poland
It’s a busy deep water port in Szczecin (pronounced Shchet-seen), Poland located along the River Oder and Regalica in Lower Oder Valley off the Stettin Lagoon. Szczecin Port is one of the important ports on the Baltic Sea region and also Poland‘s 3rd largest port. It handles dry and liquid bulk, Ro-Ro passengers, timber products, reefer, liquefied gas and breakbulk. At some point, the Port of Szczecin used to be a part of an important shipyard by the River Oder. River Oder is an inland of the Baltic Sea where this port is situated.
A Little Background On Szczecin:
It was first mentioned during the 1st century when the Roman historian Tacitus discovered a settlement here by the Germanic tribe of Rugians. Then in the 8th century, a Western Slavic people called Pomeranians invaded the area and even if it was incorporated into Poland in 1080, the town was in complete control by the Dukes of Pomerania. They would rule Szczecin for centuries until 1630 when it became a part of Sweden.
After Sweden‘s invasion in the 17th century, it was annexed into the Kingdom of Prussia due to Napoleon‘s conquest. And in the 18th century, Szczecin was annexed to Germany and served as the port of Berlin. During the German occupation, the town was renamed into Stettin and because of this, it was hit hard to the core by the Allied forces during the Second World War.
After the war, Soviet forces invaded Nazi Germany in 1945. Poland was allowed to annex all lands along the River Oder as agreed upon in the Potsdam Treaty. This include Stettin wherein it reverted back to its old name of Szczecin. And since Poland was controlled by the Soviets, it became a Communist stronghold until the 1980s. However, Szczecin was one of the cities that started the Solidarity movement in Poland. ( The Solidarity movement was a trade union aimed to end Communist rule in Poland headed by then Labor leader Lech Walesa who became President of Poland in 1990.) And well, as they say, the rest is history.
Aboard the crude carrier Sallie Knutsen, we arrived one fine September day at the Port of Szczecin, Poland in 2004 for oil discharging. One of the biggest cities in pre-dominantly Catholic Poland, Szczecin has a very complicated history. Maybe it’s a Polish city which you have never heard before but that doesn’t mean Szczecin is not worth visiting. It is packed with an amalgam of culture and marked by a make over of remarkable architecture. Famous for its rare product, the Starka vodka, let me tell you about the 7 killer destinations without the crowds in Szczecin, Poland.
Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes
It was once the seat of the House of Griffith, a Pomeranian ducal dynasty that ruled Szczecin for centuries. This Renaissance castle was constructed in the 1570s. When Sweden occupied Poland in the 1630s that ended the Pomeranian rule, the castle served as the house of the Swedish governor. When Sweden left Poland at the start of the 18th century, the Queen of Poland settled in the castle.
Bombed heavily during World War II, the Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes was reconstructed after the war. It has been turned by the state as a museum where you can explore the state rooms and apartments of the dukes. This is a chance to learn the aspect of Szczecin‘s troubled past as well as the legends of its former prominent owners. During the reconstruction, a burial site was unearthed that revealed sarcophagi of the dukes and are now one of the attractions in the castle. Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes, a killer destination without the crowds in Szczecin, Poland.
Kamienica Loitzow (Loitz Tenement)
Just a stone’s throw away from the castle is another killer destination without the crowds in Szczecin, Poland, the Gothic noble house Kamienica Loitzow. This is a former residence of the Loitz banking family in Szczecin. A striking orange palatial tenement, when the family went bankrupt in the 17th century, it was taken over by the Pomeranian dukes.
During the Swedish occupation, Kamienica Loitzow served as the house of a Swedish councilor. Burned to the ground after a bombing raid in 1944, only the facade of the tenement remained miraculously intact. A bas-relief of the Conversion of St. Paul sculpted in the 16th century was found embedded at the eastern part of the facade which was attributed for its survival during the bombing raid.
Waly Chobrego (Chabry Promenade)
The symbol of Szczecin, Waly Chobrego is an elevated promenade that dates back to 1902. A killer destination without the crowds in Szczecin, Poland, it offers a stunning view to River Oder. Named after Poland’s first king, Boleslaw Chobry, this promenade is lined with important buildings as well as cafes and restaurants that serve Szczecin‘s famous craft beer and Starka vodka. In summer, Waly Chobrego hosts Szczecin‘s biggest events – The Days of the Sea and The Tall Ships Races.
Palac pod Globusem (Palace Under The Globe)
Currently occupied by the Art Academy of Szczecin, the historic Palac pod Globusem was once the ancestral home of Princess Sophie Dorothea of Wurttemberg later known as Empress Maria Feodorovna, wife of the Russian Tsar Paul I, mother of Russian Tsars. A killer destination without the crowds in Szczecin, Poland, this stately house was formerly Grumbkow Palace. Built in 1724 and the seat of the Supreme President of the Pomeranian Province, Philip Otto von Grumbkow.
In 1782 the palace was bought by a rich Szczecin merchant, Fryderyke Wietzlow which remained occupied by his descendants until 1890. It is crowned with a globe from whom the name of the palace is derived. Despite Allied bombings during World War II, the Palace Under The Globe remained untouched. Another Russian royalty was also born in this palace, Empress Catherine The Great of Russia who was the mother of Tsar Paul I, husband of Maria Feodorovna.
Polmos Szczecin, Home of the Starka Vodka
In the 15th century, it was a tradition in Szczecin that when a boy is born into a family, an oak barrel is filled with alcohol and rye with small amounts of apple and linden leaves added then buried deep into the ground to be opened again during the son’s wedding. So that is how the Starka vodka was conceived. Nowadays, Starka is produced solely by Polmos Szczecin (Polski Monopol Spirytusowry) and the spirit is aged from 10-50 years which make this kind of vodka so special. A killer destination without the crowds in Szczecin, Poland a tasting tour of the vodka culture of this town is conducted in 3 different locations to taste 6 various types of the Starka at some of Szczecin’s best pubs.
During World War II, in German-occupied Szczecin was built an anti aircraft shelter for civilians deep into the ground. Comprising of five levels below the surface, the area can accommodate at least 5,000 civilians. After the war, the Polish Civil Defense adapted the shelter for use in case of a fallout from nuclear attack. When Communism ended in Poland, Underground Szczecin became a tourist attraction although the shelter is shrouded with a lot of mystery. A killer destination without the crowds in Szczecin, Poland.
The oldest bar in Szczecin that serves paszteciki, famous pastry of Szczecin. This food was so popular during the Communist era and still remain as the favorite comfort food of the city. Paszteciki is a deep-fried yeast dough stuffed with meat or vegetable filling. Bar Pasztecik still serves this traditional Szczecin delicacy with a taste that is still exactly the same at it was when it opened in 1969. A killer destination without the crowds in Szczecin, Poland.
I hope this article on Szczecin will ignite the fire inside you to consider Poland in your radar when the world opens for travel again. It is an awesome country with Szczecin in particular. Powodzenia!