Stargard is approx. 36 km east of the centre of Szczecin and approx. 180 km from Berlin. Along with Szczecin, Świnoujście, Police, Goleniów and Gryfino belong to the agglomeration of Szczecin. The national road No. 10 (the Szczecin - Bydgoszcz one) runs through the town. The national road No. 20 (the Stargard-Szczecinek-Biały Bór-Gdynia one) begins there. Stargard is 40 km away from the airport in Goleniów, 40 km away from the border crossings in Kołbaskowo and Lubieszyn, 136 km away from the ferry in Świnoujście, 100 km away from the Baltic Sea, 23 km to the A3 expressway (in Pyrzyce) and 44 km to the A6 one (in Nowogard Szczeciński).
The yellow Stargard Old Town 'Stargard - the Jewel of Pomerania' Trail (approx. 3 km long) runs through the towns, so does the blue Anna Jagiellon's blue trail (approx. 35 km long, 3 km of which is in the town) and the Hetman Stefan Czarniecki Trail (approx. 62 km, while 4 km is within the town). The town also belongs to the European Route of Brick Gothic. The trail runs past the monuments of Gothic architecture (churches, monasteries, gates, towers, town halls) in three countries: Denmark, Germany, and Poland. The towns on the way are the ones mainly associated with the Hanseatic League (1 Danish, 20 German and 10 Polish ones).
The 15th meridian east latitude, which is the main meridian of the Central European time zone. The fact that the position of Stargard is on 15th meridian is highlighted by a stone obelisk located at Szczecińska Street near 15 Południk Roundabout. The exact history of the creation of the monument is unknown. It is believed that it was set up by the Germans during the interwar period. It became devastated over the years, but thanks to the efforts of municipal authorities and members of PTTK [Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society] it was restored in the spring of 1996. What is interesting is that an excursion route runs through West Pomerania along the 15th meridian trail. It leads from Trzęsacz by the Baltic Sea through Stargard to Trzcinna near Myslibórz.
Stargard Szczeciński is both a municipality and commune in Zachodniopomorskie [West Pomerania] Province, in the district of Stargard, on Pyrzyce-Stargard Plain. The town is located in north-western Poland by the Ina, east of Lake Miedwie. It lies on the border of two geographical regions: The Szczecin Lowlands and the Pomeranian Lake District. The area of the town is 48.08 square kilometres (data as of 1st January 2009). Stargard represents 3.16% of the district of Stargard.
The coat of arms of Stargard in its current form was passed by the Town Council in 1913. Nonetheless, the old one was used until the end of World War II. The escutcheon is divided into two fields. On the left there is the Pomeranian griffin, referring to the affiliation with the Duchy of Pomerania and Pomerania itself, on the right there is a blue ribbon symbolising the Ina River flowing through Stargard. The coat of arms is the most important visual element of historical identity of the town, which determines the continuity of the tradition of its inhabitants. The flag of Stargard (the ratio of the height to the length is 2/5) consists of horizontal stripes. The two outermost stripes are cyan, the two innermost ones are red, the middle one is white. On the left side of the flag there is the coat of arms with a height of not more than 7/10 the width of the flag. Stargard used a red and white flag with the coat of arms of a double escutcheon. Another element that has permanently inscribed in the symbolism of Stargard is a star - referring to the prefix 'Star' in the name of the town. The reference to the English word is well understood by and has good associations for the foreigners coming to the town. The authorities have also chosen the slogan: 'Stargard. Under a lucky star'. This name, in turn, is part of a trend of promoting the town to tourists under the programme 'Stargard. The Gothic Constellation'. The town has also had its bugle call since 2000. It is played from the front facade of Town Hall every day at noon. St. John the Baptist became the patron saint of the town in 2003 marking the 760th anniversary of granting municipal rights. Therefore, the feast Stargard is celebrated on 24th June on the anniversary of granting civic rights to the town in 1243.
There are many theories explaining the origin of the word Stargard. Undoubtedly, the name of the town has been repeatedly changed. One of the hypotheses is that its etymology is undoubtedly of Slavic origin and has a form characteristic of the Pomeranian language i.e. 'the old gord'. Besides, it appears in various forms throughout the Slavdom. The 'gard' means a town (gord) in Slavic Pomeranian dialects. This form has survived to this day in Kashubian. Another explanation for the name of the town indicates that the word is derived from the Danish clusters of starn (star) and gate translated as the Star Gate. The images of medieval coins and seals from Stargard may be proof this thesis. Bracteates from the thirteenth century were decorated on the averse with a one-tower gate with hexagrams, the later coins had a three-tower gate with a hexagram in the passage. The first seal of Stargard preserved to this day dating from the fourteenth century also shows the motif known from earlier bracteates.
The name of the town appeared for the first time in 1124 in Ebbo's chronicle, who described the mission of St. Otto of Bamberg. Another record dates from 1140 from the bull of Pope Innocent II, under which Stargard was supposed to belong to the diocese in Wolin. Thus, it should be emphasised that Stargard is the second oldest (after Szczecin) town in Pomerania - it received civic rights in 1243, and its origins can go back to the sixth century. It owed its development to its location at intersecting trade routes leading from Santok to Wolin and from Szczecin to Kołobrzeg.
The current Bolesława Chrobrego Street and the Białogłówka are thought to be where the beginning of Stargard was. A settlement of Osetno is thought to have been there in the late eight and early ninth centuries. A gord was then built in the bend of the Ina. In 1186 Bogusław I, the Duke of Pomerania, brought the Order of St. John of Jerusalem to Stargard. It erected monastery buildings and a chapel converted later into St. John the Baptist's Church, and Prince Casimir II settled there the Order of St. Augustine in 1199, granting them the land. in the thirteenth century Duke Barnim I led in to the location of the city on the Magdeburg Law, later changed to Lübeck one. In 1292 the pearl of the Baltic Lowlands of Gothic architecture - the Church St. Mary Queen of the World (rebuilt several times, e.g. by Henry Brunsberg, a German architect) was erected. At the end of the thirteenth century construction of stone and brick walls began, some of which have survived to our times. The development of the town, which became one of the richest in the whole Pomerania, also began in the fourteenth century. Stargard became the owner of the land at the mouth of the Ina, which allowed for the building a transfer port there. The town additionally bought the privilege of free sailing on the river. Consequently, the merchants of Stargard were much more privileged than, say, townspeople of Szczecin (e.g. in 1368 merchants of Stargard export to Lübeck 244 lasts of cereals [1 last = approx. 3,000 litres], merchants of Szczecin - 140 lasts, and the ones from Goleniów and Dąbie - a total of 77). The growing importance of Stargard was reflected by its accession to the Hanseatic League. The topographic position of Stargard (between the two arms of the Ina), late-Gothic architecture and altitude differences (of more than 20 m between the lowest and highest points) determined positive remarks about the uniqueness of the town, which was called Nuremberg of the North.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century Stargard was within in the Duchy of Słupsk (as a result of subsequent divisions in the Duchy of Pomerania and Stargard). The townspeople effectively utilised favourable conditions (weakening of the princely rule) to acquire sovereignty. Bogusław VIII (presumably in debt with the townspeople) granted Stargard judiciary autonomy and, after getting rid of the prince's mayor, virtually independent local government. In fact, it became a town-republic (1409). At the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries the defensive walls were once again modernised, but also elevated and new buildings were built (4 gates, 9 towers and 45 lookouts). The most valuable and most famous element of the defensive architecture complex is the Młyńska [Mill] Gate, also called the Portowa [Port] Gate, which has been, since its very beginning, in the historical coat of arms of the town. It is the only water gate in Poland, the towers of which are located on two opposite banks of the Ina arms.
A ten-year feud between Stargard and Szczecin started in 1454 over shipping goods on the Ina, ended by the peace in Kobylanka. To seal the peace, the linden forming the Wreath of Concord were planted - a natural monument today. As a warning, two chains that had been once used by the residents of Szczecin to block the Ina were hung on the towers of the Water Gate in Stargard. The most beautiful place in Stargard, was once the lively market (three markets to be precise). The Main Market Square (now called the Old Market Square) had representative functions as the Town Hall Square. The wealthiest merchants, clothiers, vendors and furriers had their houses and shops at the market square. The most exquisite inns and hotels were located there. The other marketplaces included the Meat Market (today's Mariacka Street) and the Fish Market (the area between St. Mary's Church and the Town Hall). Stargard was also known for the artistic works (chalices, candlesticks, bells, pulpits and altars) of woodcarvers, goldsmiths, pewter smiths and bell founders. For example, the oldest surviving bell in Stargard is the St. Mary's bell in St. John the Baptist's Church. It was moulded in 1464 and weighs approx. 3500 kg. Prince Warcisław extended the staple right of Szczecin in 1467, which was very beneficial for the merchants of Stargard. In fact, these events ended the golden age of not only economic development, but also of socio-cultural one of Stargard.
In contrast, the sixteenth century was under the sign of damage in Stargard. As a result of several fires, the town was burnt to the ground. Subsequent attempts of rebuilding were terminated by the Thirty Years' War. Due to famine, fires and epidemics caused by the Swedish and the tsar's armies, the town lost 90% of its population. During the reign of the Swedes, it was tried to rebuild the city. The Collegium Groeningianum, among other things, founded by Peter Gröning (an outstanding mayor in the years 1624-1631) was built. The facility was intended for talented youths, who, however, could not take up studies due to their economic conditions. In the mid-1730s a huge fire destroyed almost the whole town together with St. Mary's Church and the university. As a result of the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years' War, Stargard came under the rule of Brandenburg, and was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701. In 1714 the King of Prussia conferred the title of royal professors on the teachers of the Collegium Groeninganum (a university with the faculties of law, philosophy and medicine). The turn of the eighteenth century was the continuation of town destruction by soldiers. For example, Stargard was destroyed by the Russians in the Seven Years' War, and the Napoleon's army passed through the town several times in the years 1806-1812.
The end of the hostilities came after the Congress of Vienna. Almost a century of stabilisation led to a rapid growth of Stargard once again. Stargard was incorporated into the district of Saatzig. A merchant Mampe founded the first manufacture in the town in 1835 - cognac and liqueur works. In the mid-nineteenth century the New Gate was built in the town walls, thereby creating a circular route to Bydgoszcz. At the same time Stargard was connected with Szczecin by railway for the first time, and subsequently with Poznań and Koszalin. Construction of the railway connecting Stargard with the larger cities in the region resulted in another impulse for economic development of the town. Opening a gas plant and Warsztatów Remontowych Urządzeń Kolejowych [Maintenance Workshops of Railway Equipment] (later Zakłady Naprawcze Taboru Kolejowego [Rolling Stock Repair Plant]). In the second half of the nineteenth century the merchant Meisner launched a factory producing tarred roofing paper and asphalt, where bituminous roofing paper was discovered and patented in 1869. A substation of energy and water supply and sewage system with a water tower and the first sewage treatment plant were established at the end of the nineteenth century. At the same time a municipal slaughterhouse was opened. The Prussian administrative reform of 1881 acknowledged the status of urban districts of only five towns in the Pomeranian Province (from Rügen to Lębork). Those were Szczecin, Strzałów, Gryfia, Słupsk and Stargard. Before World War I the population of Stargard was the fourth largest in Pomerania (after, respectively, Szczecin, Strzałów and Słupsk).
Economic development of Stargard was also determined by the socio-cultural heyday of its inhabitants. It is there that the artistic careers of the eminent Szczecin painter August Ludwig Most (1807-1883) and of the founder of the well-known comic opera 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' Otto Nicolai (1810-1849) began. On the other hand, Wilhelm Herwarth, a painter from Berlin, was pleased by idyllic scenes from the life of the inhabitants of Stargard surrounded by the most famous buildings of the former Stargard. Furthermore, a set of drawings of architecture in Stargard were made by the outstanding art historian Franz Kugler.
The beginning of the twentieth century is associated with Stargard becoming an urban district in 1901. Because of that administrative change, a great building of a district office and land office (now the Town Hall) at Czarnieckiego Street were built. In the years 1901-1911 the architect Deneke carried out renovation of St. Mary's Church. The emperor Wilhelm II and the Empress Augusta Victoria came to the re-consecration on 30th August 1911. The town was prosperous again then. Lots of new schools, hospitals, institutions and residential houses were built during that time. Some of them can still be admired today, and they provide the town with charm and climate while creating the stylish architectural wholeness.
There was a POW camp during World War I (1915). Today, the war cemetery is the remains after it, where the dead prisoners of many nationalities and faiths lie. After the war, the town's economy recovered fairly quickly. During World War II the situation of the town was quite the opposite. Joint air strikes of the Allies and the Russians on the railway junction, the airport in Kluczewo, the premises of a V-2 torpedo factory by Lake Miedwie and industrial objectives occurred in the night of 20th February 1944. In contrast, between 2nd and 28te February 1945, German inhabitants of Stargard were evacuated into the district Greifswald, which was ordered by Himmler due to a military operation (called the Armoured Battle of Stargard). At the beginning of March 1945 the soldiers of the 1st Belorussian Front captured the town, almost completely destroying it (approx. 72% of the buildings).
Stargard was incorporated into Poland as it lies on the so-called Recovered Territories. As soon as on March 23rd, Polish authorities were appointed. Over the years, all institutions were created 'from scratch' by using the settlers coming to the city as a part of Operation 'Vistula'. The new government policy took effect since the town had a population of over 20 000 inhabitants in 1950, although reconstruction had not started yet. Only in the late 1950s were new residential buildings (the Tysiąclecia [Millennium] housing estate) built. Next, other houses, public buildings, as well as the historic town hall and St. Mary's Church were rebuilt. Public bus transport was started (23 lines, including Kluczewo, which was incorporated into the town). Subsequently founded plants, including Polmo Foundry or Luxpol Knitting Industry Plant constituted proof of not only rebuilding of the town, but also of its rapid development.
At the end of the political transformation the town maintained the pace of development. Modern sewage treatment plant was opened, and Stargard Industrial Park now began operation. In turn, at the beginning of 2005 the Stargard geothermal energy plant was opened (for a total amount of over PLN 34 million, co-financed by Americans, Frenchmen and Germans). Hot water at 90 ° C is taken from a depth of 2670 metres. The construction of the southern bypass of Stargard, which is a part of the S10 express road, was completed in 2009. The town has also grown administratively. The post-Soviet territories of Kluczewo airport were incorporated into Stargard at the end of the twentieth century.
The great and famous people of their times have Stargard roots. During the Reformation, one of the most prominent Protestant theologians was Jacob Runge (1527-1595). The Latin inscription indicating his Stargard pedigree has been still on his epitaph in Greifswald to this day. The Department of Theology at the University of Greifswald was dominated at the time by thinkers coming from Stargard. David Gilly (1748-1808), of a French Huguenot descent, was connected with the town for a period of ten years. The town owes him, among other things, the erection of several modern buildings. Another architect, born in Stargard this time, was Johann Eduard Jacobsthal (1839-1902). Nevertheless, he linked his works with Berlin, where he was the chief architect of, among others, Berlin S-Bahn, was involved in the project of Berlin Alexanderplatz Train Station, in the construction of Stadtbahn or in architectural work of the train station in Strasbourg. The prominent Pomeranian historian Dr. Martin Wehrmann (1861-1937), the author of about a thousand publications on the past of the Great Pomerania, including Stargard, settled in the town at the beginning of the 1920s.
The monuments of Stargard Szczeciński were entered in the list of the European Route of Brick Gothic. A lot of tourists are interested in seeing the ramparts. The defensive system in Stargard was built in the second half of the thirteenth century and was rebuilt several times. The fragments of walls of a total length of 1 040 m, as well as 4 towers and 3 gates have survived to this day. The best preserved section of the wall is located near the Pyrzyce Gate. The town defensive walls, along with the Church of the Virgin Mary Queen of the World complex, were declared a Historic Monument by the President of Poland's Regulation of 17 September 2010. The defensive complex includes gates, including the Młyńska [Mill] Gate (also the Portowa [Port], Wodna [Water], Reczna [River], Herbowa [Coat of Arms] ones). It was built at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and its name refers to a nearby mill. The Młyńska Gate has been a symbol of the town for ages, and its silhouette has been portrayed on stamps and been part of the old coat of arms of the town. The Młyńska Gate is unique in the whole Europe. However, the Pyrzyce Gate was erected in stages from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. The gate was adapted to serve residential functions in the eighteenth century. It has reflected the former splendour of the town to this day. In contrast, the Wałowa [Embankment] Gate was erected in several stages from the fifteenth century to the seventeenth century. The name refers to the embankment existing before the construction of the gates around the old castle of a castellan.
Undoubtedly, the towers are among the sights often looked for by tourists coming to Stargard Szczeciński. The more so, because it is in this town that the largest municipal tower in Poland, the Morze Czerwone [Red Sea] Tower, is. It is 34 m high. It was built in c. 1500. The name the tower is connected with a bloody battle during the Thirty Years' War. The base of the tower used to be a prison dug in 1860. The tower has three observation decks, all of which offer a panoramic view of Stargard and the surrounding area. The Tkaczy [Weavers'] Tower (31 metres high) is also worth mentioning. It was built in 1450, then rebuilt by the Guild of Weavers. It consists of eight floors and a dungeon prison. Ice used to be kept inside it for some time, hence its other name - the Lodowa [Ice] Tower. The Białogłówka [White Head] Tower (30 metres high) located in the oldest part of the Old Town, on the site of the old hill fort, was, in turn, built in the early fifteenth century.
Lovers of religious architecture will find a lot of places worth seeing in Stargard. These include, without a doubt, the Collegiate Church of St. Mary Queen of the World, which is also the most valuable monument of Western and Middle Pomerania and the highest vaulted church in Poland (32.5 m). The original polychromy from the fifteenth century, stained glass windows from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the fifteenth-century altar have been preserved in the church. You should also visit St. John's Church, which was built in the first half of the fifteenth century as a result of the expansion of the chapel erected earlier by the Knights of St. John. It is a hall church with chapels and ambulatory. There is a stellar vault in the nave (the only one in Pomerania). The storms destroyed the cupola in 1540 and 1697. The current one comes from 1892, is 99 m high, and is one of the tallest towers in Pomerania. The original organ from 1731 and the fifteenth century stalls are worth seeing.
While staying in Stargard, You cannot overlook the monuments of secular architecture. These include the town hall, which was a work in progress from the middle of the thirteenth century. It is the largest medieval building of this type in Pomerania. The arsenal, in turn, was built on a rectangular plan in c. 1500 in the southern part of the town at Basztowa Street. Originally, it served as a warehouse, as well as a repair and weapon production workshop overseen by the Town Council. It served as a criminal prison in the nineteenth century. The granary of Stargard, built of brick in 1685 by the river Młynówka, is in turn, the only monument of this type in Western Pomerania. Grain from the areas of the Stargard and Pyrzyce Land delivered by land and by the river Ina was stored in the granary. There was a salt trading post in the granary in the eighteenth century. You should also pay attention to the Protzen House at Kazimierza Wielkiego Street (now housing the State School of Music of 1st and 2nd level). The house was built at c. the half of the fifteenth century. It originally consisted of a high part of the ground floor, which had a separate currency exchange office, and several floors of warehouses. The so-called 'Stargard blind', inspired by decoration of the north tower of St Mary's church, was placed in the wall.
Convenient travelling around both the town (bus lines) and the region (expressway, railway transport, coaches and small buses) encourage one to visit Stargard. The kayak trail along the river Ina encourages You to inland navigation. It leads from Recz through Stargard and Goleniów to the Domiąża. Currently, it is planned to adapt a section of the Ina to tourism together with constructing canoe wharf, water stations, camping and bonfire sites. Accommodation facilities are also fully developed. There are 8 hotels in the town, but private accommodation and agritourism on the outskirts are also available. What is interesting is the fact that there are several parks and greens in Stargard. Without a doubt, the most attractive area for walking and relaxation is located in Chrobry Park. It covers an area from the Portowa [Port] Gate to the Pyrzyce Gate with the amphitheatre and Słowicza Avenue. There is a neo-Gothic church (now an Orthodox church) and a water tower. They are a part of planty parks of Stargard. There are two natural monuments: a sycamore (dia. 3.03 m) and a common beech (dia. 4.47 m). In fact, there are 19 natural monuments in Stargard. London planes are the most numerous (11 trees in Popiel Park). In addition, there are also other natural monuments like the sycamore, Norway maple and hybrid black poplar in 3 Maja Park, English oak and white willow in Jagiellońśki Park, as well as common hornbeam (Zamkowy Park), black poplar ( Sportowa Street) and European white elm ( Skarbowa Street).