Ten special sights in Szczecin
From walkways with water views to new museums.
Polish cities often had a turbulent history and Szczecin is no exception. Since the city was founded in the 9th Century, it has been under the rule of Prussia, Poland, Denmark and Sweden. This old Hanseatic League city came into Prussian hands in 1720 and during the Second World War it was still the German city called Stettin.
It was then that Allied bombing reduced the city to unrecognizable rubble. At the end of the war in 1945, 80% of the city lay in ruins, the Polish border was moved west and the city became part of Poland. The change of nationality also brought a new name, Szczecin.
Much of this historic city was destroyed by wartime bombing. The rebuilding work mainly consisted of cheap tower blocks to give the new residents a roof over their heads.
You can still see signs of former grandeur in the Ducal Castle, the erstwhile seat of the dukes of Pomerania-Stettin, and the Harbour Gate, but the rest of the city is a bit of a mess. However, Szczecin city council is in the process of revitalizing the city with new squares, city beaches and museums, an award winning philharmonic concert hall, tourist trails, water sports and city bikes.
Here are ten special sights in Szczecin.
Walkway with water views
Szczecin’s most beautiful landmark is Waly Chrobrego, an elevated walkway dating back to 1902, with water views and iconic buildings. You’ll find several of the most stately buildings in the city along the walkway, such as the National Museum, Maritime University, City Hall and several baroque gates. On a sunny day, this is the place to stroll, date, drink coffee or eat ice cream and there’s also several cafés and restaurants to shelter in, in the event of a shower.
Experience the city by the water
Combine water views with people watching, while walking, jogging or cycling along the river. Szczecin’s new river walkway, Bulwary Szczecinskie, makes the water accessible and an integral part of city life in an entirely new way. There are also plenty of places to sit down and enjoy the sun and watch kayaks, sailing boats and people pass by.
The beach island
There are several small islands in the River Oder, of which the hippest is the new city beach island Wyspa Grodzka, whose very central location overlooking Waly Chrobrego offers the best views in the city. In the warmer months, you can read a book in a sun lounger, play beach volleyball, have fun with your kids or party after dark with DJs, drinks and dancing. It’s also an events venue with movies, standup comedy, dances and plenty more. You can reach the island by foot or bike via the river walkway or by water streetcar from Bulwar Piastowski.
Szczecin has many delightful parks, of which the biggest and most beautiful is Park Kasprowicza, centrally located and perfect for jogging, relaxing, strolling and family time. The 98 hectare area is actually a four-in-one park with forest lake, playground, rose garden and much more. Another wonderful park is Stefan Zeromski Park, which is an extension of Waly Chrobrego and the river walkway.
The Red Route
If it’s your first visit here, the Red Route is a good way of orienting yourself. It’s marked with a dotted red line along the sidewalk that starts close to the main station and takes you around the city and past 42 attractions large and small, monuments, churches, fountains and information boards. The entire route is around 7km and takes a couple of hours on foot, but you can also job if you wish.
The modern city museum
Centrum Dialogu Przelomu
You’ll find new and old landmarks in Plac Solidarnosci. Such as the ultramodern historic museum with multimedia, exhibits, information boards, old photographs and propaganda telling the history of the city from an upheaval perspective – from the German city of Stettin to becoming Polish Szczecin, from the Stalin era to the Solidarity movement, from the fall of communism to European democracy. Thought provoking and definitely worth visiting.
The new landmark
Filharmonia, the city's new concert hall on Plac Solidarnosci looms like a giant white iceberg from the ground and has rapidly become a new landmark in the city. Designed by Studio Barozzi Veiga of Spain, Filharmonia was awarded the EU Mies van der Rohe Prize in 2015 and is a stunning spectacle. There are tours of the hall selected fridays and if you want the full cultural experience of classical music and spectacular architecture, tickets to concerts are still relatively inexpensive. Check the website for ticket prices and program.
The world’s oldest movie theater
Not many people know this, but the world’s oldest still working movie theater, Kino Pionier, is in Szczecin, first opened as Kino Helios in 1907. The movie theater is still doing well and shows a mix of mainstream and arthouse movies in two screens: The Red Screen is the larger, plus a smaller Klub Kiniarnia with café tables, bar and old piano dating from the days the city was still called Stettin. Movies are screened in the original language version with Polish subtitles.
Impressive and proud
The Ducal Castle
Szczecin’s impressive castle dating from the 15th Century was badly damaged in the war but has since been rebuilt and renovated and now stands chalk white and proud. The castle is a culture center today with various art and history exhibitions, concerts, theater and tourist information. The castle has two courtyards, four towers and beautiful items such as a 17th Century astronomical clock. There are wonderful views of the city from the top of the clock tower.
Colourful renaissance buildings
Ulica Sienna, or Sienna Street, is located below the Ducal Castle, whose colorful renaissance buildings and medieval city hall are part of all that remains of the old city. The old city hall now houses a microbrewery, Wyszak, while the rest of the street has a wide selection of places to eat and drink, ranging from classic eastern European cuisine with goulash, potatoes, Pierogi and beer, to Thai fusion food, Brazilian and pizza.
Text by Lise Hannibal