Szczecin is located in the north-western Poland, in the western part of the West Pomerania Province near the border between Poland and Germany. The city is situated on the Odra River and Lake Dąbie, encompassing a part of Międzyodrze. The distance from the city centre to the Baltic Sea amounts to 65 km in a straight line. Szczecin neighbours on the town and commune of Police (from the north), the communes of Dobra and Kołbaskowo from the west, of Gryfino and Stare Czarnowo from the south, and the communes of Kobylanka and Goleniów from the east.
Szczecin is a transportation node on the route of the North-South trans-European transport channel, which connects southern Scandinavia, the Czech Republic, and Austria with the ports of the Mediterranean Sea. Among the roads passing through Szczecin are road no 6 (E28) leading from Germany (state border in Kołbaskowo) through Koszalin to the Tri-City, road no 3 (E65) from Świnoujście through Gorzów Wielkopolski, Zielona Góra, and Jelenia Góra to the state border (Jakuszyce) and then to the Czech Republic, and also road no 10 from Germany (state border in Lubieszyn) through Stargard Szczeciński towards Bydgoszcz and Płońsk. Some of roads start in Szczecin; for example, road no 13, which leads from Szczecin through the state border (Rosówek) to Germany and further towards Western Europe, and road no 31 from Szczecin through Kostrzyn upon Oder and Słubice. Similarly, road no 115, leads form Szczecin through the state border (Dobieszczyn) to Germany.
In Szczecin, as many as 6 different railway directions meet, forming together the Szczecin railway node. Currently, there are stations and railway stops for passengers active in Szczecin. There are also 2 freight stations and several level junction posts. Szczecin is connected with national railway infrastructure by 7 railways. Railway no 401 connects the city with Goleniów and Świnoujście, railway no 351 with nearby Stargard and with Poznań, from where it is possible to travel on to Warsaw and Wrocław. Railway no 273 joins Szczecin with Kostrzyn upon Oder, Zielona Góra, and Wrocław. Railway no 409 connects Szczecin with Berlin, and railway no 408 with Hamburg.
From the passenger wharf near Wały Chrobrego, the cruise boats Odra Queen and Peene Queen start their cruises on the Oder River and the waters of the harbour in Szczecin. In April 2008, a hydrofoil started to sail to Świnoujście. It is planned to organize a water trail Berlin – Szczecin – the Baltic Sea.
Transportation by air is served by the international NSZZ Solidarność Szczecin-Goleniów Airport with permanent connections with Warsaw, London, Liverpool, Dublin, Oslo, and Edinburgh, located about 47 km from the city centre. The offer also includes charter and seasonal flights. The annual capacity of the airport reaches a million of passengers. The terminal is adapted to the EU requirements. Currently, the airport in Szczecin is trying to become a base for low-cost airlines. The chances of the city significantly increased after the construction of a new passenger terminal and the Polish most modern flight control tower. The role of a sports airport of the Szczecin Flying Club is played by a grassy Szczecin-Dąbie airport, which was the city’s airport until the 1960s. The airport has two grassy runways at the moment.
There are 12 tram lines and 70 bus lines (including 6 express bus lines and 16 night bus lines) in Szczecin. The public transportation of Szczecin is organized by the Municipal Road and Transportation Office. Its task is to prepare a detailed timetable for all lines, to distribute and control tickets, and to order transport services. The tram network is a basic means of public transportation in the city centre. Tram lines, spreading radially from the centre, provide large transport capacity from and to the districts of Szczecin located on the left side of the river. The Szczecin Fast Tram is being built – it is going to connect the part of the city located on the right side of the river with the city centre.
The present arrangement of bike paths encompasses only parts of the city, including about 27 km in the district of Zachód and about 9 km in the Śródmieście district. There are virtually no bike paths within Prawobrzeże and in the district of Północ. In the summer of 2014, the “Bike_S” city bike system was established – its stations were located in the city centre only, but next stations, for example in the district of Prawobrzeże, are planned.
What facilitates travelling and staying in Szczecin is the Szczecin Tourist Card. It provides tourists with free-of-charge public transportation, 50% of discount on tickets to all branches of the National Museum and the Museum of Technology and Communication, a free souvenir gadget from Szczecin, free admission to clubs and discos, the possibility of purchasing concessionary tickets to the Szczecin Concert Hall, theatres, galleries, and tourist attractions, such as a ropes course, the Eksperymentarium Eureka interactive exhibition, observation towers, and cruise ship trips. Additionally, the card provides up to 25% discount on hotels and restaurants, discounts on sightseeing in Szczecin and on transfer to the airport in Berlin, concessionary tickets, and discount on water equipment rental and canoe trips, discount on admission to the Salt Cave, and concessionary tickets to the museum in the Castle of Pomeranian Dukes. The card can be bought in two versions: 24-hour for 15 PLN and 3-day for 25 PLN. It can be purchased in the Tourist Information Centre at 7 Jana z Kolna Street, in the Tourist and Culture Information Centre at 34 Korsarzy Street (the Castle of Pomeranian Dukes), in the tourist information point at the railway station at 1 Kolumba Street – currently, during the renovation of the station, in the SCP building at 86 Kolumba Street.
Szczecin is a city with district right, a capital, and the largest city of the West Pomerania Province, located on the Oder River and on Lake Dąbie. Szczecin is situated within the area of four geographical mesoregions: the Valley of the Lower Oder River, the Szczecin Heights, the Bukowe Hills, and the Goleniów Plains – they belong to the Szczecin Coast region. Szczecin is the third largest city in Poland in terms of its area (300.55 km² from which almost 24% are underwater lands) and the seventh largest in terms of population. It is the centre of the Szczecin agglomeration. The city is divided into four districts: Północ, Prawobrzeże, Śródmieście, Zachód.
The name “Szczecin” is of Slavonic origin. Mediaeval written sources are relatively scarce and it is difficult to draw any decisive conclusions on their basis. Until recently, the name of the city was believed to have stemmed from the word “szczecina” (meaning “bristle”). Other derived it from a word “ściek”, meaning “a drain” (because the waters of the Oder River in this region “drain” very slowly towards the Baltic Sea). Later research put forward a more probable hypothesis that the name Szczecin comes from a word “szczyt”, which meant “a shield”, and a suffix “-in” (Szczycin). Old chronicles mention that the town was located on three hills. The first name Szczytno came from these hill tops (“szczyty”). There is also a thesis that the name comes from an Old German word “stette”, meaning “a fortress”. Throughout the ages Szczecin repeatedly changed its name. The oldest mention of the name Stetin comes from 1133, in 1188 – Stetyn, in 1251 –Stitin. The Polish exonym before the war was the name Szczecin (1890, 1938). It was officially restored in 1946.
The coat of arms consists of a blue escutcheon with a crowned head of a griffin (a symbol of the dukes from the House of Griffins) with red plumage. The crown and a beak are gold. The proportions between the height and width of the coat of arms amount to 1:0,75 (4:3); the coat of arms is curved at the bottom. The edge of the escutcheon is gold. The griffin was present on the city stamps already in the 13th century. The current model appeared about 1360, but the colour of the escutcheon from that time is not known. After 1660, Charles IX of Sweden added two lions supporting the griffin’s crowned head from both sides. The present coat of arms was established by the City Council of Szczecin on December 2nd, 1996 (kept in effect by article 2 of the resolution about accepting the statute of December 14th, 2004).
The contemporary flag of the city is a rectangular piece of fabric with the ratio of length to width of 2 to 1, horizontally divided into six equal stripes, alternately red and blue (red at the top). On the flag, there is the coat of arms of Szczecin placed to the left from the centre of the flag.
The bugle-call of Szczecin is played on a bugle by a bugler each day at 12 am in the building of the City Council in Szczecin and from Bugle-call Tower in the Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes. There are two versions of the bugle-call. An everyday version is played with one bugle; during national and municipal holidays it is played by three buglers. The bugle-call was created in 1995.
The oldest traces of early mediaeval settlement in Szczecin can be dated back to the late 9th century and the beginnings of the 10th century. A fortified town surrounded with a moat was built by Slavonic dukes and a trade-fishing settlement developed nearby. The town spread over marshy areas on the left side of the Oder River and on the island of Łasztownia. The account of Abraham ben Jacob from the mid-10th century tells about a large Slavonic port town on the Oder River, which he called Sadżin or Sasin, and around which a dense rural settlement was developing. The town has a shape of an oval with a narrowing in the middle. The central point of the town was a pagan temple of a Slavonic god Trygław.
Szczecin was an aristocratic patriarchal republic. The town was ruled by the elders, and an important role was played by an assembly. The resolutions passed by the assembly had legal effective force, and did not have to be preceded by decisions of the council of the elders. Unanimity of the assembly was required in important matters. The elders consist of people coming from eminent houses, distinguished by affluence or experience. The lower strata of the community of Szczecin were made up of the independent and wealthy, as well as by crowds of common people and slaves.
In the years 967-972 duke Mieszko I incorporated Western Pomerania, along with Szczecin to the state of the Polans. The Battle of Cedynia between Mieszko I and Hodo (the margrave of the Lusatian March) established the reign of the Polans over Western Pomerania for a short time. The Mieszko I’s interest in this region was motivated by the fact that these lands were inhabited by ethnically related Slavonic people, while a convenient location and access to the sea provided many common economic and political interests. After the battle of Struga (a part of Płonia) in 1121, Duke Bolesław the Wrymouth re-incorporated the city to Poland, at the same time recognizing the authority of his vassal, Warcisław I. In 1181, the city together with the entire West Pomerania became a vassal of the Emperor and was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire. In 1243, duke Barnim I granted Szczecin a city charter.
In the 13th century, Szczecin became a Hanseatic city. In place of the Slavonic town, in the 14th century Duke Barnim III the Great built his seat, the so-called “Stone House” and the St Otto chapel. These buildings were the first stage of the construction of a ducal castle (today known as the castle of Pomeranian Dukes). In the years 1454–1464, the city waged a war with nearby Stargard to obtain primacy in maritime trade.
In 1464, the last representative of the House of Griffins died and Brandenburg tried to take over the duchy after his death. However, duke Eric II of Słupsk and Warcisław X of Wołogoszcz entered Szczecin and defended the heritage of the Griffins. After the death of Eric II in 1474, the duchies of Słupsk and Szczecin was taken over by his son, Bogusław X, who 4 years later, after the death of his uncle Warcisław X, united West Pomerania, and moved permanently its capital to Szczecin in 1491. In 1532, the duchy was divided again, and the town became the capital of the Duchy of Szczecin. Almost simultaneously Protestantism (Lutheranism) was introduced in Szczecin. In 1570, the Treaty of Szczecin was signed, which ended the First Northern War.
During the Thirty Years’ War, in 1627, Szczecin was taken by imperial troops, and in 1630, the city was seized by the Swedes, which was sanctioned by the Treaty of Westphalia. Military operations during the Swedish invasion resulted in the economic decline of the city. The Swedish reign and the construction of the fortress of closed territorial expansion opportunities for the city, limiting the area of Szczecin to about 54 ha on the left and approximately 10 ha (the island of Łasztownia) on the right side of the Odra Zachodnia River.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the city was seized by Prussia, which was sanctioned by the Treaty of Stockholm in 1720. The mediaeval fortifications (in 1283, they were stone-brick walls, finally finished at the turn of the 13th and the 14th centuries) were pulled down during the construction of new city fortifications by Frederic Wilhelm I in the years 1724-1740. After capturing Szczecin by French troops in 1806, there was short French reign in the city (1806-1813).
In 1843, the city was connected with Berlin by railway, which gave rise to the railway in Pomerania. Soon, industry started to develop more intensely. Szczecin obtained basic technical infrastructure relatively early: gas network was made in 1848, water supply system and sewage system were established 1864, electrical power grid was created in 1886. The first tram lines appeared in 1879; they were electrified in 1897. In 1873, the city council decided to pull down fortifications and expand the city, which was connected with the liquidation of the fortress. It triggered an intense urbanization of the post-fortress areas surrounding the Old Town.
In 1897, iron works were opened in the city. At the beginning of the 20th century, a sewage treatment plant was built. In 1900, the towns of Grabowo, Drzetowo, and Niemierzyn were incorporated into the city; also, it was decided to establish the Central Cemetery. Under the next lord mayor, Friedrich Ackermann, in 1911, the further areas were incorporated (e.g. Pogodno and Niebuszewo).
When the Second World War broke out, the city’s population amounted to about 270,000 people. On October 15th, 1939, many nearby villages were incorporated into the city, as well as two towns: Police i Dąbie – the so-called Great City of Szczecin was established and existed until the end of the war. About 100 forced labour camps were located within the area. As a result of the Allied bombing raids since 1943, 60-70%, of buildings, 70-80% of the port and its vicinity, and almost 90% of industrial facilities were destroyed.
At the end of April 1945, the town was captured by the Red Army. Poles also appeared quickly in the city. Piotr Zaręba became the head of the Temporary Board of the City, which was designated by the authorities to assume the post of the president of the city. At that time, there were about 200 Poles only and about 6,000 Germans gathered in the district of Niebuszewo. The official transfer of the city to the Polish authorities took place much later, on July 5th, 1945, and the affiliation of Szczecin to Poland was regulated even later, as a result of the Potsdam conference (from July 17th to August 2nd, 1945). The Polish administration took over the city without the port, which remained in the possession of the Soviets until 1947 (partially even until 1955). The Soviets used the port in Szczecin as a place where captured German equipment was loaded on ships. In May 1945, over 4 thousand Poles, who settled there earlier, left the city because of the fear caused by the protracting negotiations concerning the course of the border between Poland and the Soviet occupational zone in Germany. At the same time, a renewed increment of German population was recorded – the Germans, who left the city earlier, started to come back (approximately 1,700 people per day). Polish settlers came sparsely. At the beginning of July 1945, Szczecin was inhabited by 83,765 Germans and 1,578 Poles. After the Potsdam conference, the Polish population increased rapidly. In 1946, there were 108,670 Poles registered in Szczecin.
Szczecin was a destination for repatriates from the former Polish eastern border, Germany, and various corners of Poland. They were taken care of by the State Repatriation Office (on Jagiellońska Street). Among people coming to Szczecin was a detachment of Polish soldiers of General Maczek, who – after arriving aboard the “Izar” ship – was transported in cars at Żołnierza Square. The detachment marched towards the Repatriation Office in uniforms and weapons. At the same time, the German population of the city decreased (in December 1945, there were 57,215 Germans registered in Szczecin).
In December 1970 and August 1980, there were strikes and workmen’s demonstrations in Szczecin. Also, the so-called August agreements were signed there. On June 11th, 1987, the city was visited by Pope John Paul II.
In the years 1946–1998, the city was the capital of the Szczecin Province, and since 1999 it has been the capital of the West Pomerania Province. Since 1999, the city has been the main headquarters of the Multinational Corps Northeast of the NATO. Currently, the 12th Mechanized Division and the 12th Command Battalion are garrisoned in Szczecin. There is also a number of garrison institutions of military administration located in the city.
There are about 270 historic buildings under legal protection in Szczecin, and the city is located on the European Route of Brick Gothic. The representative part of Szczecin is Wały Chrobrego, from where one can admire the vast panorama of the Oder River and the port. Viewing decks are 500 metres long and lie 19 metres above the level of the Oder River. They neighbour on public buildings of monumental architecture, such as the major building of the National Museum in Szczecin, the building of the Maritime University of Szczecin and the building of the Provincial Office. Nearby, there are boulevards perfect for strolling. They include the Piast Boulevard (leading from the Oder Boulevard to the Castle Route), the Gdynia Boulevard (a more than 0.5 km section on the side of the Customs Office – from the Długi Bridge to the Castle Route), and the Elbląg Boulevard (the boulevard is currently a place where sports and tourist boats as well as inland and coastal fleet moors). Szczecin was a seat of dukes, due to which the Castle of Pomeranian Dukes was erected. The past of the city is also visible in form of the remnants of city fortifications, such as Baszta Siedmiu Płaszczy [the Tower of Seven Cloaks] or richly ornamented Brama Portowa [the Port Gate] and Brama Królewska [the Royal Gate].
The most interesting buildings in Szczecin can be found on Wały Chrobrego. Erected after 1901 in the historicist style, they refer to baroque and North German mannerism. Other, such as the Maritime Museum and the Contemporary Theatre, were built in Art Nouveau and modernist styles. The buildings of Wały Chrobrego are complemented with observation decks with stairs, as well as a fountain and statues referring to the culture of ancient Egypt or Rome, made by German artists.
The centre of Szczecin is characterized by large roundabouts and streets along which a multi-storey eclectic tenement houses are located. This star-like urban arrangement is frequently compared to the most famous implementation of this type of arrangement in Europe – Paris. The major part of the district of Śródmieście has been built in a star-like arrangement with squares in form of roundabouts and broad alleys with trees planted along them. Tram lines are located mostly within dedicated lanes or in the middle of the alleys.
Characteristic elements of streets of Szczecin are cast-iron pumps from the second half of the 19th century. They were produced in the local company of F. Poepcke. It functioned as an auxiliary source of water for the inhabitants of the city. They turned out to be very useful during the Second World War and in the first years after the war, when water supply system was not fully operational. Up to this day, about 30 pumps (out of 70) have survived. They are richly ornamented (a fluted column, coats of arms of the city, a crown at the top), and water flows out of a stylized head of a dragon.
One of prominent buildings in Szczecin is the St James basilica, which is a dominant building on Wyszyńskiego Street. Other noteworthy churches are the John the Evangelist church, the St Peter and St Paul church, and the St John the Baptist church. Also small churches from the Middle Ages, located in suburban housing estates of the city (Stołczyn, Krzekowo, and Pomorzany) are of great historical value.
There are numerous former residences in Szczecin, such as: the Palace under the Heads, the Classicist Palace, the Palace under the Globe, the Ionian Palace, the Palace of the Seven Pomeranian Estates, the Palace of the Pomeranian Credit Bank, and tenement houses: the Loitz family house and the Professors’ Houses. Szczecin, which used to be one of the most important city republics in the Middle Ages, the Old Town Hall was built (currently, it is a seat of the Museum of the History of Szczecin, the department of the National Museum in Szczecin) along with Rynek Sienny [the Hay Market Place], and then – as a capital of the province – there were other imposing public administration buildings erected in the city, including the Red Town Hall, the City Hall of Szczecin, and buildings of post offices on Niepodległości Alley and Dworcowa Street.
The largest museum in the city is the National Museum in Szczecin. It is a museum with many departments that gathers archaeological, ancient and modern arts, historical, numismatic, nautical, and ethnographic collections. The museum is located in five places (four historic buildings in the city centre and an exhibition in Gryfice). Other museums in the city are the Museum of Technology and Communication (the Arts Depot), the Museum of Literature in Książnica Pomorska, the Castle Museum in the Castle of Pomeranian Dukes, the Geological Museum of the Marine Sciences Institute of the University of Szczecin, and the Cathedral Museum by the St James archcathedral basilica.
There are short tourist trails marked in the city. One of them is the route called “Niezwykli Szczecinianie i ich kamienice” [the Extraordinary Inhabitants of Szczecin and their Tenement Houses]. It is formed by a two-side map with biographic entry concerning the inhabitants of Szczecin from the pre-war and post-war periods (place of birth, place of residence, working places), with description of the architecture of the tenement houses in the city centre, and a marked route. The trail presents places which are attractive in terms of history and tourism, other than those commonly known. In turn, “Miejski Szlak Turystyczny” [the City Tourist Trail] is a route marked with a red dashed line painted on pavements. Numbers in the map means the places worth visiting. The trail was created to celebrate the 750th anniversary of granting Szczecin the city charter. For tourists just passing through Szczecin, the “Szczecin w pigułce” [Szczecin in a nutshell] route was prepared – it is a tourist trail presenting the most characteristic and worth seeing places in the city. There is also a quite unique trail “Podziemne trasy Szczecina” [Underground Trails of Szczecin], which is a reconstruction of an air-raid shelter from the Second World War and a fallout shelter from the period of the Cold War. This is the largest Polish civilian shelter from the Second World War. It is located at the depth of about 5 floors in an escarpment surrounded by a revetment. From the highest entrance (Zawiszy Square) to the floor of the lowest level, it is 17 metres high. “Złoty Szlak” [Golden Trail] is the longest one – it leads for the city centre (the Castle of Pomeranian Dukes, along the Jana Pawła II Alley, through a park, to a forest. The distance is worth covering at one go, combining hiking and biking excursions. After visiting the historic buildings of the city, one can bike along the alleys of the Jasne Błonia Square planted with patulous plane trees, the Kasprowicz Park with the charming Rusałka pond and the Summer Theatre, to the rose garden. From this place, it is less than 20 minutes through forest paths, and one arrives at municipal recreational complexes. We can take a rest in one of municipal bathing beaches or in one of well-developed forest clearings. On Lake Głębokie, a bicycle can be exchanged for a canoe or a pedal boat. The enthusiasts of active recreation can visit a ropes course offering three routes of various level of difficulty. The trip through the forest can be continued along the Siedem Młynów – Gubałówka marked trail.
The offer of bike trips is also rich. It includes biking routes: Lake Głębokie – the Oder River (16 km), the Health Path (5 km, from Lake Głębokie through Lake Głuszec to the Arkona Forest), Following the Quistorps (12 km, promoting the history of the western districts and recreational areas established in the 19th century), Lake Słoneczne – the island of Puck (18 km), Parnica – Kijewo (10 km), Parnica − Lake Szmaragdowe (6 km).
Within the area of Szczecin, there are large green zones – forests, parks, cemeteries, squares, lawns, and street greenery. The Municipal Forests of the city of Szczecin cover a total area of 2,780 ha. The rest of green zones (including cemeteries, without the forests) cover the area of 605.3 ha, which constitutes 2% of the area of Szczecin. The largest area is covered by parks – in 2006, there were 16 parks with a total area of 161.5 ha.
The largest and most popular park is the Kasprowicz Park (with the area of 49 ha) located on an elevation and a slope of the Niemierzyn Valley with an artificial pond called Rusałka. The second largest is the Żeromski Park (with the area of 24 ha), established within the area of cemeteries closed in the early 20th century. The remaining parks are the Professor Stefan Kownas Dendrological Garden, the Brodów Park, the Anders Park, the Józef Dowbór-Muśnicki Pomeranian Park, the Arkona Forest Park, the Nowakowski Park, the Jasne Błonia park, the park on Niemierzyńska Street, the park on Goleniowska Street, the park on Jasna Street, the park on Sąsiedzka Street, the park on Przodowników Pracy Street, the Stanisław Nadratowski Park, the Chess-player Park (Szczecin-Zachód), the Rose Garden, the park on Wapienna Street (Warszewo).
The city is surrounded by three large forest complexes: the Wkra Forest from the north, the Bukowa Forest from the south, and the Goleniów Forest from the east. Szczecin is situated within the area of four geographical mesoregions: the Valley of the Lower Oder River, the Szczecin Heights, the Bukowe Hills, and the Goleniów Plains. The average offset of the terrain in Szczecin amounts to 25 m above sea level. The lowest area can be found between the branches of the Oder River, where depression areas of 0.1 m below sea level are situated. Near the borders of Szczecin, there is the Wielecka Góra hill (131 m above sea level) situated in the Warszewo Hills, and to the south of the city, in the Szczecin Scenic Park, there is the Bukowiec hill (148.3 m above sea level) in the Bukowe Hills.
Within the administrative borders of Szczecin, there are small fragments of the “Puszcza Bukowa” Szczecin Scenic Park (including Lake Szmaragdowe and the “Zdroje” nature reserve) and the northern part of the “Dolina Dolnej Odry” Natura 2000 Special Bird Protection Area, while to the south the city neighbours on the “Dolina Dolnej Odry” Scenic Park and is surrounded by 3 forests the Wkra Forest, the Bukowa Forest, Goleniów Forest.
There are following rivers within the area of the city: the Oder River; its side branch Regalica, which flows into Lake Dąbie, located entirely within the city; the Parnica River, which connects the two rivers, and many smaller canals, which are a part of the Międzyodrze area. There are dozen or so islands in the Międzyodrze; they can be visited during a canoe trip.
According to the data from August 31st, 2009, Szczecin had 19 hotel facilities, which offered cumulatively 3,608 accommodation places. During the whole 2009, they were visited by 289 thousand people, from which 44% were foreign tourists. The city had 42 collective tourist accommodation establishments, with 5,431 beds. In 2009, they were visited by 354 thousand tourists, from which 39,5% were foreign tourists.
According to the data from 2007, there were 37 library facilities used by 80,250 readers. The largest library is Książnica Pomorska. The collections of this institution amount to about 1,500,000 books. Książnica organizes many meetings and exhibitions concerning both general and regional culture. In 1995, the Municipal Public Library was established. It took over 51 branch offices of Książnica Pomorska, the then provincial library. Currently, 35 branches of the Municipal Public Library are operating in the every corner of the city. Among university libraries, the following should be mentioned: the Main Library if the University of Szczecin (with 10 branches), the Main Library of the West Pomeranian University of Technology, the Main Library of the Pomeranian Medical University, and the Main Library of the Maritime University.
Szczecin is frequently called a city of theatres, because of a large variety of such institutions located in the city. Among them are the following theatres: the Contemporary Theatre (located in the main building of the National Museum in Szczecin), the Polish Theatre, the Kana Theatre, the Krypta Theatre (in the Castle of Pomeranian Dukes), the “Pleciuga” Puppet Theatre, the Nie Ma Theatre, and the Chamber Theatre of the Szczecin Association of the Friends of Arts. Also, the Szczecin Concert Hall, the Opera in the Castle, and an amphitheatre in the Kasprowicz Park (the Summer Theatre) operate in the city. There are 6 cinemas in Szczecin; in 2007, they were visited by 1.14 million spectators. In Szczecin, there is the world’s oldest cinema - the Pionier Cinema (1907), operating incessantly in the same place since 1907. The remaining cinemas include the Helios Film Centre, Multikino, and the Zamek Cinema.
In the summer, street artists come to Szczecin in order to present a wide audience their new, often unconventional projects. During the Street Artists’ Festival, also theatres can be seen. Each year, the Days of the Sea are organized – it is one of the largest events throughout the whole year, which invites music stars. In April, the Magnolia Rally takes place – the most prestigious automotive event in the West Pomerania Province, which is the 3rd round of the Polish Motor Club Cup. In August, there is the Pyromagic International Festival of Fireworks, which attracts people from the entire country. On 4–7 August, 2007, there was the final of the “Operacja Żagiel” The Tall Ships' Races (after visiting Danish Århus, Finnish Kotka, and Swedish Stockholm) – international regatta of sailing ships. The organizers claimed that the area of the event was visited by 2 million people. Then, the city became one of the organizers and sponsors of the event. Because of this, on 3-6 August 2013, Szczecin was the host of the final of the next Operacja Żagiel on the route Aarhus-Helsinki-Riga-Szczecin, of even more importance than the previous event, because in 2007 the event was divided into two parts – Baltic and Mediterranean – and in 2013, the entire event took place on the Baltic Sea. More than 100 sailing ships visited Szczecin, more than previously, and the winner of general classification was Dar Szczecina, yacht belonging to the city and at the same time the smallest sailing ship that ever won this regatta (weak winds during the race was unusually favourable to smaller vessels).
Currently, in Szczecin there are two local TV stations (TVP Szczecin and Pomerania TV) and local radio stations: Polskie Radio Szczecin, Radio Plus Szczecin, Szczecin.fm, Radio Eska Szczecin, Radio Złote Przeboje, Radio RMF MAXXX, and Radio WAWA. The largest local newspapers are “Kurier Szczeciński” and “Głos Szczeciński”, the regional issue of “Gazeta Wyborcza”, and a free-of-charge weekly – “MM Moje Miasto”. Since 2007, also a free monthly is published in Szczecin – “Prestiż Magazyn Szczeciński”. It is a lifestyle magazine describing people, events, and places connected with the city. In the district of Prawobrzeże, there is a free paper published entitled “Prawobrzeże”. The members of the “Dąb” house association receive the “Panorama 7” newspaper, whose price is included in the rent. Also, a cultural bimonthly “Pogranicza” is published in Szczecin. Since September 2011, also the “Szczecin in Progress” magazine has been published – a free monthly, whose authors focus on presenting positive sides of the city, its inhabitants, and people working for the development of Szczecin.
Because of its location near the border, the proximity of the Baltic Sea available through the navigable Oder River and the Szczecin Lagoon, Szczecin became the economic centre of the region. There is a sea port, repair shipyards, yacht shipyards, and shipbuilding shipyards. The port serves ship owners from around the world and is a home port of two navigation companies: Polska Żegluga Morska [the Polish Sea Navigation] and Euroafrica. Moreover, other companies connected with maritime economy have their seats there. In the port, on the island of Ostrów Grabowski, the Spółka Wodna Międzyodrze company operates in the sector of sewage treatment. The traditional industry of the city – shipbuilding – has deteriorated. The Nowa Szczecin Shipyard (the continuation of the Porta Holding S.A. Szczecin Shipyard, based on the Adolf Warski Shipyard) was closed; the Stocznia Parnica Shipyard also went broke. There are two active repair shipyards: the “Gryfia” Szczecin Repair Shipyard and the Pomerania Sp. z o.o. Shipyard, as well as the Grupa Stoczni Odra Sp. z o.o. River Shipyard.
Within the area of the city, the Szczecin sub-zone of the Euro-Park Mielec Special Economic Zone, which consists of 8 complexes of the total area of 93.84 ha. Within the sub-zone, there are plants producing load-bearing elements, sun covers and electric installation equipment. In 2013, the Szczecin sub-zone of the Kostrzyn-Słubice Special Economic Zone was established; it consists of one complex. Entrepreneurs starting their activity within the economic sub-zones can enjoy a partial exemption from the CIT tax or from two-year labour costs.
The Szczecin Iron Works was the only iron works on the Polish coast. The “Superfostat” Szczecin Phosphate Fertilizer Plant – for some time known under the name of Fosfan S.A., located near the iron works, produces mineral fertilizers for agriculture and horticulture. Also, the National Fishing Farm used to be active in the city. Szczecin is a member of the New Hanseatic League, the Union of the Baltic Cities, the Association of Polish Cities, and the Union of Polish Metropolises.
The largest shopping malls in Szczecin are CHR Galaxy with 170 various shops, a cinema, and a hypermarket, and CH Kaskada. There are many more shopping centres in the city. In 2006, there were 16 marketplaces in Szczecin, including 14 with the preponderance of retail sales. The largest marketplaces of Szczecin are Pogodno (Reymonta Street), a marketplace on Kilińskiego Square, Manhattan (Staszica Street), and also a marketplace on Dziennikarska Street in Szczecin-Dąbie. Each Sunday there are two car auctions in Szczecin – the first near Polmozbyt on Białowieska Street, the second on Cukrowa Street.
A few brands produce goods in Szczecin, which are known and recognizable in the whole country. The first such a product is “paprykarz szczeciński”, fish paste with red peppers and rice, which is a typical addition to sandwiches. The second dainty from Szczecin is Szczecin pastry made of leavened dough and stuffed with cottage cheese, meat, or sauerkraut and mushrooms. Another regional product used to be the Starka vodka from Szczecin. It is produced from rye in the local vodka factory only, and its taste results from long mellowing in oak tree barrels with small additions of linden or apple tree leaves.
In 2007, 59 elementary schools in Szczecin were attended by 20,739 children, and 51 gymnasiums by 12,504 pupils. Secondary schools were attended by 13,467 people. In 2007, the city had 31 high schools, 22 technical colleges, 10 specialized secondary schools, 14 vocational schools, 5 post-secondary schools, and 11 schools of arts. In Szczecin, there is one of two National Ballet Centres. Among the universities located in the city are the following: the Maritime University in Szczecin, the Archiepiscopal Seminary in Szczecin, the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, the University of Szczecin, the Academy of Arts in Szczecin, the Szczecin Tertiary School– Collegium Balticum, the West Pomeranian School of Business in Szczecin, the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin based on the Szczecin Institute of Technology and the Agricultural Academy in Szczecin.
Medical care is provided by such institutions like the Provincial Polyclinical Hopital in Szczecin, the Prof. T. Sokołowski 1st Clinical Hospital in Szczecin with a landing pad, the 2nd Clinical Hospital in Szczecin, the West Pomeranian Oncologic Centre in Szczecin-Golęcin, the Prof. Alfred Sokołowski Specialized Hospital in Szczecin-Zdunowo, the “Zdroje” Specialized Hospital, the Specialized Hospital – Children and Youth Health Care Centre in Szczecin, as well as the 109th Military Hospital with the Outpatient Clinic and the MSWiA Hospital in Szczecin.
The city is a seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Szczecin and Kamień Pomorski. Szczecin is divided into 46 parishes, which are grouped in 7 deaneries. The main Roman Catholic church in Szczecin is the St James archcathedral basilica. In 1988, in the Słoneczne housing estate, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima was established. The statue in the sanctuary was crowned on Jasne Błonia by Pope John Paul II during his third apostolic journey to Poland. On March 24, 1981, the Archiepiscopal Seminary was founded in the city. In Szczecin, there is also the St Peter and St Paul Polish Catholic parish church, as well as the Polish National Catholic parish of St John the Baptist. There is also the St Nicholas Orthodox church (concathedral and parish church at the same time) and the Protection of Our Lady Greek Catholic church. There are numerous Protestant churches in Szczecin – the Lutheran parish of the Holy Trinity in Łasztownia, the Methodist parish on Stoisława Street, the community of the Christian Baptist Church, the community of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, two communities of the Pentecostal Church in Poland – on Wawrzyniaka Street, and the “Betezda” and “Kościół na Skale” (God’s Church in Christ) community as well as two communities of the Evangelical Christian Church – the “Betel” community and the 2nd community. The preacher’s activity of the Jehovah Witnesses is run by 20 communities gathering in 11 Kingdom Halls. 4 Buddhist groups are active in Szczecin. In 1835, the first synagogue was erected. It was pulled down in 1873 and then a new one was built. The second synagogue was burnt down by Nazi militia during the Night of Broken Glass in 1938. Since 1945, the Jewish community conducts services in a synagogue on Juliana Ursyna Niemcewicza Street.
The largest sports facilities of Szczecin are the Florian Krygier Municipal Stadium and the Wiesław Maniak Athletic Municipal Stadium, as well as one of the oldest facilities, built prior to the Second World War, the Zbysław Zając cycling track located in the district of Zachód. The most famous sports club in Szczecin are Pogoń Szczecin and men’s volleyball club – Morze Bałtyk Szczecin playing in the 1st volleyball league. Also, there is a multi-sectional club Arkonia Szczecin, which trains mostly teenagers. There is the Szczecin Flying Club with about 250 members grouped in 6 sections, which organizes airplane, gliding, parachuting, paragliding, and – occasionally – microlight aviation courses. Among the sports clubs of Szczecin are Karate Bodaikan Szczecin, the MKP Szczecin swimming club, the Ironman Szczecin triathlon club, the Pogoń '04 Szczecin indoor football club, the BO-GO Szczecin and Gryf Szczecin cycling clubs and the cycling section of the “PIAST” Szczecin.
Among the freemen of the city was Pope John Paul II, Rev. Archbishop Prof. Kazimierz Majdański, Rev. Hubert Czuma, Krystyna Łyczywek, Joanna Kulmowa (a poet), President of the Republic of Poland Lech Wałęsa, Prof. Aleksander Wolszczan, Prof. Gerard Labuda, Prof. Władysław Bartoszewski, Ryszard Karger (the Director of the PŻM for many years).
The most famous figure born in Szczecin (1729) was a daughter of a commander of a Prussian garrison, Sophie Friederike Auguste, a duchess of Anhalt-Zerbst, later known as tsarina Catherine II. 30 years later, the second wife of tsar Paul I of Russia – Maria Feodorovna – was born in Szczecin. Also, the following people were connected with Szczecin: Ferdinand August Ludwig Karkutsch (a German merchant, social activist and philanthropist, who founded the construction of the museum buildings located in Wały Chrobrego and the extension of a hospital in Szczecin-Zdroje); Ludwig Giesebrecht (a historian, philosopher, educator, and Prussian poet, the doctor honoris causa of the universities of Greifswald and Berlin, he belonged to a well-known Meklemburgian family of scholars); Zbigniew Abrahamowicz (an architect, an author of the design of the Summer Theatre, and designs of churches, public buildings, and restaurants); Edward Wilhelm Drescher (a physician, children’s surgeon, deontologist, professor of the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin); Marek Eisner (a physician, endocrinologist, professor of the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin); Tadeusz Bursztynowicz (a co-founder and director of the Music Theatre in Szczecin), brothers Marek and Jacek Chrzanowski (well-known Polish guitar players), and many, many others.
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