Gryfice is a town located in the northern part of the West Pomerania Province. It is situated in the central part of the district of Gryfice, about 100 km from Szczecin, the capital city of the province, and less than 30 km away from the Baltic Sea. The town can be reached from Szczecin by national road 6.
The town of Gryfice is a seat of the authorities of the district of Gryfice and the municipal-rural commune of Gryfice. The town covers the area of 12.4 km², and is divided by the Rega River flowing through its middle. It was built on the Gryfice Plain. According to the data from 2014, the population of the town does not exceed 17 thousand people. (16,872).
It is true that the beginnings of the settlement in the area, where Gryfice are located now, can be dated back to the Neolithic period, but the settlement was not granted a town charter until 1262, when Warcisław III did it. After his death, under Barnim I, the town was named Gryfia Góra – the town upon Rega.
During the reign of Mieszko I and Bolesław the Brave, the town was located within the borders of Poland, for a short time however. In the 14th century, the oldest Latin school in Pomerania was established in Gryfice. The town was an important trade centre, mainly because navigation was developing on the Rega River, which allowed the town to develop maritime trade as well. An interesting fact is that the town, despite the privilege of minting its own coins granted by Otto II, never did so. The Thirty Years’ War significantly hindered the development of Gryfice. Since 1618, the imperial troops plundered the neighbourhood, until the Swedish army came to this area. In 1648, the city was incorporated into the state of Brandenburg-Prussia.
The town was repeatedly destroyed by fires (the largest one in 1658), and its inhabitants died of various epidemics. The situation of the town improved in the 18th and the 19th century, when the economy started to develop again. Gryfice expanded, and its population reached 3,000 people. At the beginning of the 19th century, the town was appointed as a seat of district and the province of Pomerania. Next years were favourable for the development of the town; new factories were established, including a starch factory, a sugar factory, a ceramics factory, and a marmalade factory. The period of the Second World War was not characterized by any significant detriment to the architecture of Gryfice, but almost 40% of buildings were burnt by Soviet soldiers in 1945. Since the end of the war, the town is located in Poland.
The most important historic buildings of Gryfice are two preserved town gates in the Gothic-Renaissance style (Brama Kamienna [the Stone Gate] and Brama Wysoka [the High Gate]), Wieża Prochowa [the Gunpowder Tower] with a beauty spot balcony, and the remnants of the town walls from the 13th century. To the provincial register of historic monuments, apart from the area of the Old Town, also the following buildings have been entered: the 13th-century Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary church, the 15th-century St George chapel, and a neo-Gothic church currently functioning as an Orthodox church.
Gryfice has a yellow-red flag, a coat of arms depicting the Pomeranian Griffin that holds a yellow lily in its talons, and a bugle-call, which can be heard from Brama Kamienna three times a day. Currently, the town is mainly the service and industry centre of the district. Three regional roads and a railway crossed there, which makes the town an important communication node. The district authorities, a district prosecution service, a district court, and the district departments of police and fire brigade are located in Gryfice. There is also the West Pomerania Specialized Hospital with the West Pomerania Centre of Critical Burn Treatment and Plastic Surgery. A forest inspectorate, a social insurance inspectorate, the internal revenue service, and a regional road development authority have their headquarters in the town. There are also the Gryfice Community Centre, the Gryfice Cultural Association, the Museum of the Gryfice Region, the “Brama” Gallery, the Municipal Library, and a branch of the H. Radlińska Provincial Educational Library. Gryfice has two public kindergartens, two elementary schools, three gymnasiums, four high schools, one school complex, and a music school. The town is also the seat of the Post-Secondary Vocational College and the Business Faculty of the West Pomeranian Business School in Szczecin.
Tourists planning to visit the town should choose the turn of May and June, when the Days of Gryfice are organized, or the end of July when there is the Gryfice Region Festival.