Szczecin: Lockdown drive to the German-Polish border
March 8th, 2021:
Having moved to Berlin and getting used to a new job in middle of lingering pandemic winter, this was one of the first and only day-trips so far on the International Women’s Day – yes it’s a public holiday in Berlin!
Being under Phase-N of lockdown, we didn’t expect to try local cuisine or the Polish beer varieties – but at-least a sunny getaway in the once German city of Stettin – now Szczecin in Poland.
Angel of Freedom
We started our walk at the Solidarity Square with the modern architecture of Philharmonic on one hand and the Angel of Freedom on the other. On reading further, this piece of monument was built in the memory of the workers’ protests in 1970’s. The anti-communist protest had a tragic outcome and today this beautiful angel stands tall in remembrance of the victims.
The hard fight and life sacrifices from the Polish people are vividly engraved across the commemorative plaques at the base of this 11 meter high monument that shows an angel clutching a crown of thorns.
The Szczecin Philharmonic building is an example of the varied architecture in this town – a striking bold building in middle of Polish classical architecture. Designed by the Barcelona firm Barozzi Veiga, on the first glance you might perceive it to be a factory warehouse because of the zigzag shaped facade at the roof without any windows.
But as you get closer, you get to look at the uniquely translucent glass building with lined up jagged peaks. I bet this minimalistic piece of monochrome architecture not only has the aura of icy-glow after the sunset, but also wonderful performances that would take place regularly in the non-pandemic world.
Wały Chrobrego : Chobry Embankment
As you walk towards the Waly Chrobrego, the land keeps getting elevated with the river on the right. Waly Chrobrego was named after Poland’s first king Boleslaw Chrobry from the Piast Dynasty. This was the glorious place we hung out for quiet a while – 20 metres above the river, this half kilometre monumental embankment gives you a very charming historical experience. It’s one of the few places in Szczecin that wasn’t destroyed during the World War II.
By the banks of Oder River, it offers beautiful panoramic views – do expect some drone footages soon from this spot on my YouTube channel.
Pomeranian Dukes’ Castle
The Gothic castle for the Dukes of Pomerania dates back to 13th century with the late Renaissance architecture from that time. Although today it’s a cultural center and home to several exhibitions and concerts, it has seen several historical evolution – a lot of the Renaissance elements were lost during Prussian rule in the 1800s and was heavily destroyed during the World War II.
The reconstruction efforts began in about a decade after the war ended – today it has a museum that walks visitors through the castle’s turbulent history and a roll-call of eminent owners through the decades.
Architecture blend of Szczecin
The most interesting story of this town is the contrast between the different types of old and new architecture.
It is also not surprising to see a lot of storytelling via wall murals along the town. Once you pass by the old town of Stare Miasto, there are several interesting restaurants and cafes which were closed during our visit. But even then, the cobblestone square was worth the visit with it’s colourful Baroque gabled townhouses and the reconstructed town hall.
Szczecin (in Polish now) or Stettin (in German before the war) is a city that has passed between opposing powers for hundreds of years. Much before Germany and Poland before the war, historically the Dukes of Pomerania were replaced by the Swedes, followed by the Prussian Empire.
Szczecin Harbor by the Baltic
Szczecin is also a major seaport in the West Pomerania that grew rich from trade on the Baltic in the Middle Ages.
By the river, there are several interesting port pieces that you could spend time exploring. Nearby is also the Harbour Gate of Brama Portowa builtin 17th century, decorated with depictions of a city panorama and the God of the River Oder, Viadrus.
There are several other interesting spots we didn’t have the chance to visit due to the lockdown – Szczecin Cathedral, Cold War bunker, Museums on technology, Cafe-22, and plenty of interesting German/Polish bars and restaurants. On the outskirts are the nature bed of Puszcza Bukowa and Różanka Rose Garden.
Trzebiez: Bank of Szczecin Lagoon
We decided to travel further 30km north of the town later in the afternoon to Trzebiez – a Polish coastal town located in the banks of the Szczecin Lagoon. The roads to reach there are extremely rusty but on arriving, we had some peaceful moments of cold winter sunset by the water before heading back to Berlin. Also do look forward to some drone footages from out here.