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Crumpled City™ SZCZECIN

1 | WHICH WAY TO THE SEASIDE? The Oder river

Which way to the seaside?

It's a common enquiry here, though the seaside is over 60 km away. Even so, Szczecin is indeed a sea harbour, with its reputable shipyards and Maritime University; for over five centuries was the capital of Duchy of Pomerania known as "land at the sea". Oficially, the sea waters reach up to the Castle Trail, with Dąb(sk)ie lake within the city limits - a sailing haven with welcoming marinas. Kayaking through the labyrinths of Międzyodrze gives you a hint as to why Szczecin boasts the nick of a "floating garden".

2 | WATERFRONT Chrobry Embankment, Łasztownia, The Old Town, Szczecin Venice

City life used to once thrive on both riverbanks of Oder. Recently, a part of the war-wrecked Castle Grounds has been restored with its narrow streets and distinctive old-town pubs. The opposite isle of Łasztownia, once the site of ship-ballasting prior to a ship's sailing, is to become a modern mixed-use residential district. The name "Łasztownia" comes from a Latin word for "ballast" - similar sites exist and are likewise called in Amsterdam, Lübeck and Königsberg. The isle offers excellent views over Chrobry Embankment - a monumental layout dating back to the early 20th century. Let the aroma of chocolate in the air from the nearby chocolate factory lift your day while strolling along the Oder and its brand new boulevards. Venice in Szczecin - go for it - just take a cruise to discover what was built straight out of the river.

3 | FOLLOW THE RED DASH Main Railway Station Szczecin Główny
Follow the red dash

All city-centre landmarks can be reached easily by following the City Trail red dash line on the sidewalk. Curious? Find out where the Russian Empress Catherine the Great was born. Native to Szczecin, she needs no introduction, but hold on - there are more - turn around and look for plaques spread throughout the city in honor of those less known but deserving figures from the city history (Tenements of Szczecin). Find the City Trail map on the Railway Station front wall. The Station itself hides an attraction: behind the underpass door you may visit an underground war-bunker and a postwar nuclear shelter.

4 | WHITE EAGLE SQUARE Plac Orła Białego
White Eagle Square

A defined city centre has virtually been nonexistent in Szczecin - every era had its favoured hotspot. In the 18th century the square, a former Horse Market, became the representative hub of Szczecin thanks to its monumental architecture erected back then. The Palaces housed well established European noble families, with mothers of three consecutive Russian tsars born and raised there. Today, with its Academy of Art at Palace under the Globe, galleries and cafes, it fetches the title of primus inter pares again. All landmarks of the Old Town are a stone's throw from here.

5 | OVER-A-CENTURY-OLD CINEMA Pionier 1909 Cinema (Pioneer)
Over-a-century-old cinema

Listed in the Guinness Book of Records in 2005 as "the oldest cinema still in operation today" had held the title for 3 years. Hence one of the screening rooms is kept retro - while the old-style reel is changed, guests may treat themselves to an extra glass of wine (no popcorn available). Polish cinemas favour original soundtrack and subtitles, so you are able to view a premiere here ahead of nearby Berlin. Long before "Pioneer" traced its brand hidden message, the place was mocked for being the tiniest cinema in Szczecin. Fickle fortune closed the nearby Cosmos cinema, once the city giant, but left the one-of-a-kind display of the beautiful vintage mosaic above the entrance.

6 | PASZTECIK Snack Bar "Pasztecik (rok zał. 1969)"

Meat-filled pasties, a local deep fried specialty, is the best known dish of post-war Szczecin. Made with machinery originally meant to feed the masses in Soviet Army ranks, was adapted to provide "civil service" to Szczecin inhabitants since 1969. Half a century later this "delicacy" of Cold War was recognized by EU as a "traditional specialty product". Discover it in a number of snack bars, though only "Pasztecik (since 1969)" boasts the original recipe served in a traditional setting of the era. A perfect match with red borsch (beetroot soup). A must try!

7 | "ASTRONOMY DOMINÉ" "Orion Squares"
Astronomy dominé

For years Szczecin close resemblance to Paris, with its star-shaped squares, was a point of pride to its residents. Today, it's said that three distinctive circles in the city centre were designed to emulate the Egyptian pyramids arranged like the stars in Orion's Belt. True or not, once the Szczecin fortress was toppled in the late 19th century, a brand new city centre emerged - within just one generation. Modern at the time, a coherent urban development concept combined vast transportation passages and lush green boulevards. Today Grunwald Square provides the city vibe together with an interesting mix of pre-hipsters calmly moving pawns on their chessboards. "The boulevard of fountains" leads you to the Lotników (Pilots) Square - the epicentre of Szczecin Critical Mass. An evening stroll along nearby Bogusław Passage is a must. Its snackbars and pubs are recently finding the communism era spirit trendy - which for the young generation is as remote and fascinating as Orion is.

Szczecin-locals favoured spot

Golden Trail symbolically marks the city axis and stretches from the Oder river up to the wilderness edge. Take a stroll or cycle along the green avenue of the Polish Pope John Paul II to find the Municipal Council building at its end. Look behind to admire the vast land of Jasne Błonia and its largest position of London planetrees in Poland (over 100 trees). After the Pope's death, crowds of people filled up the "Fair Grassland" bearing his very name (JP2), to share gratitude for his service. It is also the land that was generously handed over to the city at the turn of the 19th/20th century by a wealthy Szczecin family of Quistorps, for recreation. We also owe them location of districts along city parks. A trail "In the Quistorps footsteps" is marked with informational displays showing even more. A summer weekend is just perfect to become engrossed in live music from the rose garden (9K roses of 99 kinds). Avenues of jasmine open the path to the city woods.

9 | THE THIRD BIGGEST IN EUROPE Cmentarz Centralny (Central Cemetery)
The third biggest in Europe

It boasts the well-deserved reputation of a soulsight and tourist attraction. Broad tarmac cyclable alleys enable easy access to all ends of this beautifully designed urban garden with many spectacular scenic axes and a number of unique plant specimen. Today, with many natural features gaining historic importance, you can follow the tourist botanic path to find out more. Established over 100 years ago to resemble those of Hamburg and Vienna, it has kept its position of the third biggest necropolis in Europe. With the fall of communism, the new generation seems to be gradually acknowledging the legacy of the pre-war German history of Szczecin (then: Stettin). Successively restored tombs of Szczecin citizens of merit can be easily found following a plan of a historic walk through the cemetery. In the old Urn Grove, on the way, you may find the spirit of the old era reflected in a new stylish lapidarium.

10 | WELL MADE - "ILL BRED" Modernistic buildings listed under "Architecture"

Poland today is re-discovering the value of communism-era architecture. Among many objects brushed off for years, and nowadays called "ill bred", we may find some inspiring examples of socialist realism and modernism. The notion of "ill bred" in Szczecin becomes truly inclusive - recently, pre-war German modernistic architecture has also been re-discovered and acknowledged, though earlier dismissed for being foreign and remotely functional. That's why both eras are briefly outlined on our map of architecture.

Crumpled City™ is a trademark of Palomar | Crumpled City™ SZCZECIN has been prepared by Incitive
Graphics: Anna Małecka; Text: Michał Borun, Tomasz Maksymiuk, Anna Szotta; English translation: Aleksandra Filińska-Zacharzewska. Photographs: Europomerania Artur Magdziarz; except 5: Kino Pionier 1907.
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