Świnoujście is a city with the administrative rights of a district, health resort in the extreme north-west of Poland in Zachodniopomorskie [West Pomerania] Province with a seaport and beach, situated by the Świna and the Baltic Sea. It's Poland's only city located on 3 big islands: Usedom, Wolin, Karsibór, and on a dozen of small uninhabited islands (a total of 44).
Świnoujście is 160 km away from Berlin, 150 km from Denmark, and 175 km from Sweden. Świnoujście can be reached, among other means, by car by the national road No. 3, which runs from Jakuszyce in the southern Poland, by rail, and - in summer - by hydrofoil. Ferries connect the city with Scandinavia. A waterway runs through the Piast Canal, the Oder, the Havel Canal, and connects Świnoujście with southern Poland. Access to the Baltic Sea is provided by the commercial port, as well as by the sea and passenger-freight ferry terminal that offer voyages to Scandinavia. There is the Świnoujście Ferry Terminal with 9 sea ferries plying regularly to Sweden (Trelleborg and Ystad) and Denmark (Copenhagen and Rønne on Bornholm in summer). Świnoujście also has the White Fleet ships that offer trips to the neighbouring towns in Poland and Germany. A hydrofoil has been running from Świnoujscie to Szczecin and back since April 2008.
Świnoujście is located at the beginning of the national road No. S3, which is a part of the European E65 route leading from the north to the south of Europe - from Malmö to Chaniá in Crete. The national road No. 93 connects Łunowo with the former border crossing Świnouśscie-Garz. Regional and long distance bus station is located opposite the train station in Świnoujście. Public transport operates within the city of Świnoujście, on Usedom, Wolin and Karsibór, and in Międzyzdroje. The European Line was started in the city in 2004 (in cooperation with Ostseebus) connecting Świnoujście with German resorts of Ahlbeck, Heringsdorf and Seebad Bansin.
Communication between the islands of Usedom and Wolin is provided by the Bielik [White-Tailed Eagle] ferries, plying between the city centre and Warszów around the clock that take pedestrians, two-wheelers and cars of the residents of the city and those running business in its area. The second ferry crossing is provided by the Karsibór ferries plying between Ognica and the southern part of Usedom, these ferries transport pedestrians and all vehicles. The railway station Świnoujscie is on Wolin. Regional trains as well as long-distance ones shuttle from the city to Szczecin. There is only Świnoujście Centrum [Centre] station in Usedom, from which the Usedomer Bäderbahn trains (Seaside Railway of Usedom) run to Heringsdorf, Wolgast, Züssow and Stralsund, also to Berlin in the season.
There is Heringsdorf Airport at a distance of 13 km from the city centre on the German side of the border that offers connections in the summertime to 6 cities in Germany (Bremen, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Cologne/Bonn, Munich, Frankfurt), and also to Zurich in Switzerland and Warsaw since 2009. Szczecin-Goleniów Airport is located approx. 70 km from Świnoujście and its planes fly to Dublin, London, Rygge near Oslo and Warsaw all year round.
There are year-long Tourist Offices, one of them is located on Wybrzeże Władysława IV [The Coast of Władysław IV] (at the city ferry), and the other one at the former Świnoujście-Ahlbeck border crossing. A seasonal Tourist Office is at the marina. The Berlin - Szczecin - the Baltic Sea waterway is planned to be organised.
The city is located at the Strait of Świna that joins the Baltic Sea in the northern part, and with the Szczecin Lagoon in the southern one. It lies on three inhabited islands: Usedom (35 712 inhabitants in 2010), Wolin (4317 inhabitants), Karsibór (703 inhabitants) and on 41 smaller uninhabited islands. Świnoujście is located in the north-western end of Zachodniopomorskie [West Pomerania] Province. The boundaries of Świnoujście cover an area of 197.23 km², 91.23 km² of which is land and 106 km² is water, including the Szczecin Lagoon. Interestingly, the city becomes larger every year by sand accumulated by ocean currents to the beach.
The name of the city was created by joining the words specific to that place - the city centre is located in a place where the Świna joins the Baltic Sea and is as if an estuary [Polish 'ujście']. It is also said that the Polish name is literally translated from the German Swinemünde. In 1182 it was Szvvine that was recorded as the local name. Further records were related to the strait. Polish town name of Świnioujście and Swinoujście was used until 1945. The regulation of 1946 officially introduced the name of Świnoujście.
The first human settlements in the area where Świnoujscie now lies appeared 5 thousand years ago, as evidenced by archaeological finds, and the oldest records related to these area date back to the twelfth century. The grounds by the Świna were within the tribal state of the Wolinians that Mieszko I incorporated into his country more than a thousand years ago. They were ruled by Pomeranian dukes in later centuries. They built fortified castles on both sides of the river, but destroyed several times by the Danish invasions in the twelfth century. Guarding posts were built in 1170 and 1173 on both banks of the Świna, but they were destroyed by the Danish invasion in 1177 and rebuilt in the years 1181-1182. Świnoujście as well as the whole Western Pomerania was a fief of Denmark from 1185 to 1227. The imperial army seized the Świna Gate in 1628, and built fortifications which protected access to the river from the sea. The Swedish army landed on Usedom in 1630. Gustav II Adolf, the king of Sweden, spent five days on Karsibór. The Peace of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) granted Sweden the city along with the whole of Western Pomerania. Prussia purchased the islands of Wolin and Usedom in 1720 for 10 million thalers in gold. Because of high fares for the passage through the Strait of Peenestrom (this area together with Wolgast belonged to Sweden until 1815), the Prussian government decided to enable ships to navigate from Świna to Szczecin, and began to deepen its main bed. A settlement called Swinemünde was established north of the village of Swine in 1743. It was officially announced a seaport in 1747 and Świnoujście obtained civic rights from Frederick the Great in 1765.
The city port was expanded, a wooden pier was built, a fairway was deepened, and a lighthouse was erected in the nineteenth century. The safety of navigation was improved then. Regular passenger navigation was launched. All of that had a positive impact on the development of the city. There were two stone breakwaters on the sides of the Świna Gate between 1818 and 1823; and the Piast Canal was dug in the south-east of Usedom between 1875 and 1890 to facilitate navigation between Szczecin and the Baltic Sea. The construction of the highest lighthouse in the world was started in 1854, which was launched in December 1857. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the city became a resort, and at the end of the century, after the discovery of the sources of brine and peloid - a health resort. A health resort area, separated from the city centre with a park, was developed rapidly in the late nineteenth century. Świnoujście was connected by railway with Berlin in the second half of the nineteenth century. The stations were Świnoujście Główne [Main], Świnoujście Nieradków and Świnoujście Port, but they were destroyed in 1945.
A small shipyard, transhipment port and naval supply base (submarines, boats) were operating during World War II. The city and the port were destroyed mainly during air raids of the Allies on 12th March and 16th April 1945. The number of victims has exceeded 23,000. The city surrendered to the Red Army on 5th May 1945. Świnoujście, under the Potsdam Agreement, became the most westerly located Polish port after the end of World War II.
The only land connection with the rest of Poland was broken due to the accumulation of ice on the Świna in the winter of 1945/1946. Then, murders of German civilians that stayed in the city also took place. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej [the Institute of National Remembrance] estimates the victims at more than 40. The perpetrators of these incidents were young officers of Urząd Bezpieczeństwa [the Secret Political Police] and Milicja Obywatelska [Citizens' Militia]. Rebuilding and reconstruction of the port of Świnoujście from a war to trade - fishing one began in 1948. The construction of a large fish conglomerate was started, a huge swimming pool and industrial buildings were built, the Fishing Base was opened three years later.
Only in November 1950 did the government of the GDR agree to pass Poland the water intake for Świnoujście, located near Lake Wolgastsee, and to demarcate the border at that place again. An area of 76.5 hectares with water treatment station was incorporated into Poland in June 1951, thereby creating a characteristic spit advanced into Germany (the so-called the Bag 53°54'49,11"N 14°41'11,18"E ). In return, the Germans were given a similar area between the water intake and Pomeranian Bay.
In the late 1940s and the early 1950s PPDiUR "Odra" [Deep Sea Fishing Company 'the Oder'] was founded. The health treatment part of the city was occupied by Soviet troops until 1957, a Soviet naval base with the infrastructure existed until the late 1980s and the early 1990s. The city was within the district of Wolin until 1972. A seaport was being built in Świnoujście in the 1960s and 1970s, which formed a complex of ports together with Szczecin. It was decided to build an LNG port terminal in Świnoujście on Wolin to tighten Poland's energy security.
It was decided to build an Anti-Pollution Base in Świnoujście as a result of the ratifying by Poland the Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue and the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, and in the face of the awareness of the growing risk of oil and hazardous substances pollution caused by increasing traffic of ships in the Kiel Canal and the Danish Straits. This investment was made in the years 2007-2008. The facility was built at the end of the pier at the entrance to the North Basin, and has three main roles: a base of specialised anti-pollution ships and rescue vessels, the location of the Subsidiary Coordination Centre and a training centre for maritime rescue. The Maritime Rescue Base, the Anti-Spills Base and border inspection centre, used in the event of the need for the rescued shipwreck people.
The city has specific buildings resulting from its maritime character. There are historic port buildings, but also houses (some of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century), buildings (e.g. the post office one from 1878, 1 Piłsudskiego Street), a former shipyard (from the years 1897-1903) at Wybrzeże Władysława IV [the Coast of Władysław IV] (the Northern Basin), including 2 administrative buildings, a workshop hall (later the warehouse), 3 warehouses, a water gauge, the waterfront of the Northern Basin with a hoisting device and a railway water tower, built in 1898 of red brick and red granite (much damaged during the bombing of the port in 1945). While in Świnoujście, You should also go inside the affiliated Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the fifteenth century (rebuilt in 1826) with the Gothic altar from the fifteenth century and the ambo from the seventeenth century, and to the Church of Christ the King built between 1788 and 1792 on the site of a Gothic temple in the city centre at Kościelny [Church] (Słowiański [Slavic]) Square. A wooden model of a sailing corvette hangs from the ceiling in the nave. There is also an antique organ. The Świnoujście Organ Evenings are held there on Saturday evenings from mid-May to mid-September. Also, a half-timbered house (a fishing cottage, 7 Wierzbowa Street) from the early nineteenth century is a good starting point for tours of the city. The tour should include visiting the Lighthouse of Świnoujście (Bunkrowa Street) from the years 1854-1857. It is the highest lighthouse on the Polish coast (68 metres high), located in Fort Wschodni [the Eastern Fort] area on the right bank of the Świna, 500 m from the sea (the district of Warszów). While walking around the city, You can go to see the historic breakwaters. The Western Breakwater with a Mills Beacon (a length of approx. 350 m) built between 1818 and 1923 is located at the end of the beach on Usedom at the mouth of Świna. The Mills Beacon is a symbol of Świnoujście. The Eastern Breakwater, with a length of over 1400 metres into the sea (the longest stone breakwater in Europe) was built in the years 1818-1923 on the right bank of the city on Wolin at the mouth of Świna. While in that place, You can go to the Harbour Master's Office (from 1870), which was built during the period of rapid development and expansion of the port. An ancient anchor is nearby, where you can take a souvenir photo.
A second urban arrangement was created in the seaside district between the Świnoujście promenade and a green belt, mainly by Zdrojowy Park, separating it from the city centre. The arrangement, designed by the architect Peter Joseph Lenné, was expanded considerably in the years 1826-1827. It covers an area of 50 hectares, has rare Mediterranean trees overgrown with honeysuckle and ivy. It has 17 km of alleys and paths. In general, urban greenery includes 3 parks and greenery beside the seaside promenade.
Świnoujście was announced a seaside resort in 1824. Therapeutic sources of brine were discovered in the town in 1897. Then appropriate devices for naturopathy were built. Certain therapeutic properties of raw materials, peloid and bromide-iodide-sodide brines are used. The health resort specialises in the treatment of cardiovascular, locomotor, endocrine, pulmonary, rheumatology, ENT, dermatology illnesses, as well as in rehabilitation after mastectomy, early cardiac rehabilitation, treatment of obesity. Balneotherapy, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, electrotherapy, phototherapy are also offered. There are 15 health treatment facilities in Świnoujście: 2 health treatment hospitals, 11 sanatoriums, 1 physiotherapy institution, 1 health treatment clinic.
The spatial arrangement of the city is conditioned by the terrain, and, above all, the presence of the Świna and its channels. The Świna Gate Spit lies within two geological units: the Pomeranian Wall and the Szczecin Trough. Both structures are parallel to each other from the north-west to the south-east. The boundary between them is set by a tectonic dislocation in the city. The podzols, developing from sandy and as well as from sand and gravel sediments (e.g. on sand dunes), as well as peat and swamp soils, have evolved in the city because of climatic, lithological and groundwater factors.
The terrain has significantly affected the distribution of vegetation within the city. Moraine uplands on Usedom and Wolin are covered by beech forests with a predominance of beech and pine trees, and a few specimens of oak and birch. There are many bryophytes and lichens in the undergrowth, as well as other herbaceous plants depending on the moisture. Sand dunes are habitats of pine forests that occur in different variations depending on the moisture of a substratum. Area cities are also the focus of the Pomeranian beech forests, woods and beech and oak forests. Vast meadows and bogs can be found on the islands. The southern slopes of Wolin are covered densely by blackthorns, hawthorns, roses and various herbs. The impact of both a freshwater and marine environment has created conditions in which the vegetation of Atlantic origin took root there. The 44 islands are also the habitat for many animals, especially marine ones such as fish (herring, cod, plaice, sprat and mackerel), jellyfish (common jellyfish) and a variety of shellfish. However, freshwater fish, especially roach, bream, vimba bream, perch and pike are in the Szczecin Lagoon. Many species of birds such as ducks, gulls, swans, cormorants, etc. have shelter there. Forest complexes in the city are inhabited mainly by wild boars, roe deer, foxes, squirrels and hares. A large population of beetles can observed among insects. The Polish part of Usedom is covered mostly by the mixed Świdny Forest with a predominance of pine trees, which stretches from the south-eastern tip of the island by the Szczecin Lagoon (the Karsiborskie Paprocie [Karsibór Ferns] nature reserve), to the western parts of the city and the national road No. 93 on the east and the Polish-German border on the west. A bicycle path, leading from the centre to the border, runs near the forest along Wojska Polskiego Street. There is a train station Świnoujście Centrum [Centre] next to the path, at the junction of Wojska Polskiego and 11 Listopada Streets.
Tourists who come to the city are enchanted by the number of monuments and historical places that one can see and visit in Świnoujście. People wishing to see the beautiful view of the region climb the tower of Martin Luther's Lutheran Garrison Church from 1904 (destroyed at the end of World War II). It currently serves as a lookout tower and café (7 Paderewskiego Street). Many attractions will be provided by the Museum of Coastal Defence that is a part of forts complex of the Świnoujście fortress by the river Świna, built in the years 1848-1863 and 1877-1900. These are e.g. 1st fort - Gerhard's Fort (the Eastern Fort). There You can see an exhibition of the fortifications of Świnoujście, and the exhibits found in that area. 2nd Fort (from the years 1848-1860) which was blown up in the 1970s as some room had to be created for the expanding port of Świnoujście. 3rd fort - Angel's Fort (from the years 1845-1858) was inspired by Hadrian's Mausoleum, today's Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. 4th fort - the Western fort (built between 1843 and 1863) was repeatedly modernised, Soviet troops stationed there after the war until 1962.
Among the multitude of museums it is worth mentioning the Museum of Deep Sea Fishing at Rybaka [Fisherman's] Square in the old city hall (from the years 1805-1809). Visitors will learn about the history of sea fishing, of the city and the region, antique navigational instruments, specimens of marine fauna. There are also many displays there.
One of the attractions of Świnoujscie is the beach, which stretches over 10 kilometres (3.7 kilometres on Usedom and 6 km on Wolin). The beach widens every years due to the retreat of the sea and, therefore, the waters of Świnoujście are shallow. The Świnoujście-Usedom summer beach by Pomeranian Bay was designated. The water in the Baltic Sea near Świnoujście is the warmest on the Polish coast in the summer. In addition to bathing and sunbathing, You can also enjoy the water slides, trampolines, motorboats with a dinghy, or rent a jet ski. The beach of Świnoujście on Usedom has received annually since 2006 a certificate 'Blue Flag'. It is awarded to the beaches that meet high standards of quality and safety. The promenade of Świnoujscie is a pre-war boulevard bordering the health resort district. There are restaurants, cafes, bars, beer gardens, a band shell, a casino and an oceanarium along the promenade. There is wireless Internet access on the promenade of Świnoujście.
One of the possibilities for spending your free time is a cruise by the white fleet ships. In the summer You can have a cruise around the harbour, on the Baltic Sea and to the nearby German summer resorts: Ahlbeck, Heringsdorf and Bansin, and since 2004, also to Międzyzdroje. You can sail by catamaran to the island of Rügen, as well as to and from Szczecin by hydrofoil.
Tourists who like cycling will be pleased to rest in Świnoujście. A total length of trails is 109 km, whereas approx. 30 km of bicycle paths is within the city. Additionally, the hiking tourist shelters are near the trails, which are equipped with, among others, racks for bicycles, as well as educational boards. Bicycles can be rented in hotels and guesthouses. You can choose the Trail through the Świdny Forest (the red bicycle trail). A part of the route runs along the Piast Canal. This trail is located at the most south-western strip of Usedom and also partly runs along the "Karsiborskie Paprocie ['Karsibór Ferns']" hiking and educational trail. In turn, the trail around Karsibór (the yellow bicycle trail) leads through Karsibór, the third largest island in the archipelago. Along the trail You can find e.g.: A U-boot dockyard built in 1944 as a permanent military ferry base and a berth for training U-boot fleet of the 4th Kriegsmarine fleet from Szczecin. Beside the dockyard, there is still a ruined workshop hall, which serviced the ships docking there. Nowadays, the dockyard is mainly used by anglers. There is also a breakwater in the entrance to the Piast Canal, Zajęcze Łęgi site - a sugarcane plantation. The blue bicycle trail is the International R-66 bicycle trail around the Szczecin Lagoon, marked in blue on Usedom and Wolin. You can also choose the International R-10 bicycle trail around the Baltic Sea (the Seaside Hanseatic Trail).
Those interested in hiking will also find many interesting trails in Świnoujście. There are several of them in the region. The Seaside Trail (red), the Trail by the Baltic Sea and by the Szczecin Lagoon (blue), "Karsiborskie Paprocie ['the Karsibór Ferns']" educational paths, and the Fortification Trail of Fortress Świnoujście. The latter is a trail with a length of approx. 4 km, running past the most interesting monuments of military architecture on the eastern side of the mouth of the Świna. The trail begins in the oldest building of the left river bank - the Eastern Fort. Then, the trail leads through the remains of two coastal batteries from World War I, fortified anti-aircraft battery from World War II, to the structurally unique command bunker from the same period and a complex of field fortifications from the Cold War. There are signs with a short historical outline and graphic retrospection on information boards along the trail. There is also Goeben Battery on the route of the fortification trail.
There are canoe trails for fans of aquatic expeditions. The '44 islands' canoe trail around the islands of Świnoujście and the channels of the Świna. It is marked and designed for tourists familiar with rowing. The second canoe trail is a route along the shores of Wolin.
The main cultural centre is the Municipal Community Centre, where You can see also different types of exhibitions and theatrical performances. There is the Pegaz ['Pegasus'] Cinema in the MCC. Also, the University of the Third Century is there. The MCC also has a theatre and chamber music hall. The institution also has its branch in Przytór, on Warszów and in Karsibór. Significant cultural buildings are the amphitheatre and band shell on the promenade in the seaside district close to the beach. Concerts, festivals and FAMA, a summer student festival are held there.
Two local newspapers are issued in Świnoujście: a free "Kroniki Portowe ['Port Chronicles']" weekly, coming out every Friday, and „Wyspiarz Niebieski ['The Blue Islander']" weekly, coming out also in Międzyzdroje and Wolin. A branch of "Głos Szczeciński ['Voice of Szczecin]" is in the city, where the weekly supplement "Głos nad morzem ['Voice of the Sea']", coming out on Friday, is assembled. Among websites there are such news sites as: swinoujskie.info, eswinoujscie.pl, scie24.pl and iswinoujscie.pl. The city has two local TV stations: TV Świnoujście and TV Słowianin [the Slav].
In Świnoujście there are also: a stadium, 3 sports halls (for basketball, volleyball and tennis), an ice rink, 4 tennis courts, 5 gyms, a fitness club, an indoor swimming pool and a skate park for fans of skateboards and roller-skates. There is a marina in the Northern Basin. A major institution is the Sports and Recreation Centre "Wyspiarz ['The Islander']", which includes sports and recreational facilities.
The town has a municipal nursery, six kindergartens, eight primary schools and four state middle schools, numerous secondary schools as well as art and post-secondary schools. In the city there are also branches of universities and the independent Department of Business Administration of the West Pomeranian Business School.
Economic development of Świnoujście is compatible with its geographical position. Maritime economy and tourism, together with the health treatment function, as well as trade are the areas on which the development of the city is based. The right-bank part of the city (Warszów) is a highly industrialised area, the left-bank one, though, is dominated by businesses related to tourism and health treatment. There are 3 large shopping centres in the city, as well as 2 shopping malls and many discount stores and shops. A shopping and service centre "Platan" ['the Plane'] is being built.
The city belongs to the Pomerania euroregion. As it is situated on the Baltic coast, economy and culture of Świnoujście are permanently linked with other Baltic countries. An example of such cooperation is the "Cztery Zakątki ['Four Corners']" programme to promote collaborative tourism, as well as to provide the possibility of cultural and youth exchanges between Southern Skåne in Sweden, the Danish island of Bornholm, the German island of Rügen and Świnoujście.
The city received the Diploma of the European Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 27 June 2002 at the Palace of Europe in Strasbourg, for the promotion of European ideas, contribution to the development of the Pomerania Euroregion and for co-operation with its partner cities. Another award for the city is a Flag of Honour of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe granted in April 2005. The flag was handed during a special session of the City Council by Wilfried Böhm, an honorary member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The people associated with Świnoujście include: Robert Burkhardt (a German historian, journalist, the author of works on the history of Świnoujście), Wilhelm Canaris (Commandant of the Marine Fortress Świnoujście, the German admiral, chief of intelligence of the Third Reich, Hitler's politics opponent), Karl Dönitz (a torpedo boat commander of the garrison Świnoujście, later Admiral and creator of underwater weapons), Theodor Fontane (a German writer and resident of Świnoujście), Hanna Garboś (a Fitness World Champion of 2014, she comes from Świnoujście), Rudolf Gottgetreu (1821-1890, a German architect born in Świnoujście), Lechosław Goździk (a politician, died in Świnoujście ), Robert Klempin (1816-1874, a German historian born in Świnoujście), Wojtek Łuka (a Polish artist, painter, graphic designer, born in Świnoujście), Jacek Nieżychowski (a cabaret artist, lived in Świnoujście), Józef Pluciński (a region historian, journalist, the author of works on the history of Świnoujście), Jerzy Porębski (a Polish singer), Tomasz Steciuk (a Polish actor and singer, born in Świnoujście), Tadeusz Zielinski (an artist, iconographer, a lover of the forts in Świnoujście).