SzczecinSzczecin on the Wave
Szczecin is situated close to Germany, Denmark and Sweden, which influenced its development.
Szczecin had a stormy history. It was established on the turn of 7th and 8th century. In the place of today’s castle hill a Slavic defensive settlement was built. Its strategic location on the crossroad of important European transit routes made Szczecin an attractive aim. It was under the rule of Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Prussia, Germany, as well as France.
In 13th century Szczecin received municipal rights (1243) and becomes the dukes’ capital city. Its best times fall on the Griffits’ dynasty, which ruled the West Pomerania for over 500 years (that’s why there’s griffon in the emblem). At that time Szczecin is one of the most powerful ports at the Baltic Sea.
Paris of the North
Today, Szczecin is the capital city of the Westpomeranian voivodship with over 500000 citizens and a beautiful Odra River. There are 15 city parks with surface of 12 hectares. The parks and omnipresent magnolias give the city a unique charm. Historical, Art Nouveau architecture adds to it. The city was modelled on Paris, that’s why you can here see 19th century buildings and radial squares. G.E. Hausemann, an architect, the designer of Paris, the idea of radial squares brought right to Szczecin. That’s the reason why the city is called Paris of the North,
During the 2nd World War the city was destroyed in 60 %, though many treasures survived, such as Renaissance Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle, numerous churches (including the St. Jacob’s cathedral, which John Paul II once visited), one of the greatest cemeteries in Europe with surface if 170 hectares, the biggest 2nd World War shelter (which may contain 5000 people). Nearly 100 years old Pionier, the oldest cinema in the world, went down in the book of records.
The city has a multinational and multicultural tradition. Indisputably the main center of cultural life is the Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle, which supports and promotes artistic works. It’s home to Zamek cinema, opera, Krypta Theatre, Piwnica przy Krypcie Kabaret. There are also numerous concerts, workshops, meetings and promotional events. The castle was probably built in the place of the Slavic settlement by the first Westpomeranian ruler Warcislaw. When you climb the castle’s 60-meters-tall Tower of Bells, you can admire wide panorama of the city.
Waly Chrobrego is the place where young people love to meet. It neighbours the Maritime University of Szczecin, National Museum and Voivodship Council. From here, one can appreciate the view of Odra River and training ships moored to the wharf. Waly Chrobrego very often hold huge events, such as annual Sea Days in June, oldtimers rallies and The Tall Ships’ races. A characteristic point is the port and the shipyard as well. This is where, on 18-30 August 1980, the first general strikes started, which triggered the establishment of Solidarnosc. The strike committee with its leader Marian Jurczyk, proposed 36 demands, which spread all over the country.
Here in Szczecin, before the 1st World War, the biggest passenger ships were built, which used to break speed records. Titanic was modelled on famous Szczecin four-funnels. Where did such a power come from? Szczecin is the only port that has water connections deep into Europe and the Baltic Sea (through Szczecin Bay). Szczecin has one of the biggest Polish lakes named Dabie. No wonder our yachts, just to name one of them- Dar Szczecina, take part in the Tall Ships’ Races.
Szczecin under Sails
Right after the war sailors had nothing to sail, so they fished out German yachts, renovated them and restored their splendour. The doyen of Szczecin sailing, captain Kazimierz Rypinski tells us about water scouts teams and past etiquette: sailors used to wear white uniforms. No one dared to enter the deck with their shoes on. Captain Jerzy Domanski recalls that they couldn’t sail freely – Dabie Lake was strictly guarded by guards.
Captain Ludomir Maczka was an eminent person in the history of Szczecin sailing. His monument, which was unveiled in May 2007, is a rock brought by an iceberg from Aland Islands where the captain had always wanted to go, but never managed to. The monument is situated at the harbour of AZS Yacht Club in Szczecin, as this is the place where Maczka would set off for his round-the-world cruises on board of his beloved Maria. His first voyage took 11 years (1973-1984), though he unfortunately didn’t finish his second one. In 1985-1988 along with Wojciech Jacobson and Janusz Kurbiel, he was the first man to have circled he North pole from west to east on board of Vagabond. He died in 2006, at the age of 78.
Since 1989 Szczecin has been home to Szczecin Class Afloat, which promotes interest in sailing. It’s the only class left out of 1000 others once existing.
During The Tall Ships’ Races 2007 a unique project will be presented, named City Maritime Education Programme for Children and Youths.