The town of Swinoujscie is built on several islands between the Baltic Sea and Szczecin bay, right on the border between modern Poland and Germany. Legend has it that the two main islands (Usedom and Wolin) were stones thrown by the Germanic god Wotan at a giant snake threatening to empty the sea to quench his thirst. The serpent became the river Oder, whose mouth opens before the two islands.
Initially part of Pomerania; Swedish for around 100 years after the thirty years war in the 17th century; and returned to German control again, control of Swinoujscie has changed several times during its history.
Swinemünde as it was known while under Prussian control became the most popular spa in continental Europe was developed as a prosperous harbour and port, and the then tallest lighthouse in the world built in the town. During World War II the town became an important German naval base. The town of Swinemunde (Swinoujscie) suffered badly as a result of bombing at the end of the second world war, and when in 1945 the border between Germany and Poland was redrawn, the German population was expelled and replaced by Polish people who had themselves lost their homeland in what is now Ukraine. Since then Swinoujscie has been part of Poland.
Swinoujscie is today one of
Poland’s most famous and popular holiday resorts with wide sandy beaches,
many parks and various forms of entertainment. There is a daily ferry
service between Swinoujscie and Sweden, Germany and Denmark and a summer
service to the Danish island of Bornholm. Swinoujscie has a population of
around 45,000 people.
German Name: Swinemunde
Polish Province: Zachodniopomorskie Western Pomerania (Pommern)
Local attractions: sandy beaches; impressive lighthouse dating from 1854; "Polish" market offering bootleg cds/dvds, fake designer labels and cheap cigarettes; sea fishing; and for those interested in military history the famous World War II rocket research and launch site at Peenemunde. Birdwatchers might like to visit the nearby Karsiborska Kepa Nature Reserve. One of Europe's long distance walking routes passes through Swinoujscie on its way to Braniewo close to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, almost 550 kms away!
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