Stettin, or Szczecin as it is known in Poland, is an important sea-port city in the west of the country. It has been extensively reconstructed after World War 2 in a style sympathetic to its Polish past, with many colourful facades rebuilt of the old Gothic and Renaissance buildings. It is said that Szczecin's street layout resembles that of Paris, with wide, tree-lined streets, and the likeness is due to the same designer, Georges-Eugene Haussmann. The history of the city extends back to the 8th Century, when a fortified castle was built overlooking the River Oder. The castle has been rebuilt over the centuries, and is an important slice of Szczecin's history and the Pomeranian Dukes of the region.
Location: Across the Oder River on the shores of Dąbie Lake
In the far north-west of Poland and on the border with Germany, the city straddles the river and has been a major port for centuries. It has its own airport, the “Solidarity” Szczecin-Goleniów Solidarność, which is 47 kilometres to the north-east and offers regular flights to many European destinations. The airport has excellent bus and rail connections to the city, and recent roadwork constructions have made travelling by car to and around the city much easier. The newly upgraded A6 connects to the A11 Autobahn in Germany, and enables the visitor to reach Berlin 145 kilometres to the west in under 90 minutes.
Business: Dominated by sea trade and shipbuilding
Known historically as a shipbuilding centre, it still has the largest business of this type in the country in the Stocznia Szczecińska Shipyard. In recent years, it has become a home for many IT start-up companies that enjoy the close location to Germany. Many hotels offer facilities to businesses, such as meeting and conference rooms, and the city also boasts two large exhibition and convention centres, which can offer internal space up to 5,000 square metres and externally over 20,000 square metres to cater for almost any event.
Culture: Shortlisted for European Culture Capital 2016
With many museums, theatres, and art galleries to visit, a walk through Szczecin's streets will open up many possibilities to see the culture and history of this busy port city. Sites that must be seen during your stay include the 14th Century Ducal Castle and the two city gates of King Wilhelm I. The castle was restored after extensive damage during the Second World War, and shows how it would have looked in its heyday. The two gates, the King’s Gate and the Berlin Gate, are beautiful pieces of architecture. Sit in one of the nearby cafes, and enjoy the ambience with an espresso and watch the world go by around you.
Activities: Take a tour of Cold War history
Szczecin sits atop a network of concrete tunnels that wind their way beneath the busy city. Built originally during World War 2 as bomb shelters for the inhabitants of the city, they were converted in later years, during the height of the Cold War, as fallout shelters. Tour guides take you through the eerie, stark tunnels, where you can experience a sample of what life might have been like had the tunnels been used if the threats of nuclear war had turned real.