This is the biggest town in north-western Poland, lying only 10 km south of the Baltic Sea. Western Pomerania is a region where the three cultures of Poland, Germany and Scandinavia met, and still today mutually pervades the town and helps make it an important centre of cultural life in northern Poland. The greater part of town’s attractions are linked to the many international events, like the cabaret festivals, concerts, film reviews, etc. The nearby lakes, beaches and nature reserves help fill out the list of attractions of this rather special place.
Thanks to the undoubtedly important role it plays as the cultural centre of the region and its proximity to the sea, this former voivodship capital has many ways to capture your attention. Anyone who wants to spend some time close to the Polish seaside without losing the advantages that a big town offers in terms of atmosphere will find here all they need.The rich cultural life of Koszalin guarantees a wide range of activities and events to satisfy even the choosiest of tourists.
You can attend one of the summer open-air concerts given by the Koszalin philharmonic, or a sport tournament, a historical show, the European Film Festival, the World Festival of Choirs, the International Organ Music Festival, one of the interesting exhibitions at the museums and galleries, or sample one of the pubs that offers various types of entertainment. Besides relaxing in the centre of the town, you can discover one of the many paths and other marked ways around the town.
Koszalin lies in north-western Poland where the Dzierzecinka River flows into Lake Jamno. The town is located about 10 km south of the Baltic Sea coast, on the main road between Gdansk and Szczecin. Other nearby towns include Kamien Pomorski, Mielno and Kolobrzeg. Koszalin is surrounded by beautiful forests and reserves, including the bird reserves in Parnowo (5 km to the west) and at Lubiatowskie Lake (5 km to the south). The highest point in Koszalin is Chelmska Hill, topped with a tower for you to climb and look out over the local scenery below.
The part beside the sea is interesting as it features many dunes, cliffs, spits and wide sandy beaches. This picturesque landscape creates a truly astonishing range of scenery, including the many little lakes and river valleys that divide the region.
The history of Koszalin (Köslin in German, Kòszalëno in Kashubian, and Scurgum in Latin) is closely connected with that of the Western Pomeranian region, where different cultures have undergone a process of assimilation since the 12th century. Until that time, Koszalin, and particularly the Chelmska Hill, was a centre of a pagan cult and only a Slavic settlement. The region of Koszalin belonged to Poland at the time of Duke Mieszko I, but the first written reference to a specific settlement comes from the 13th century. Mieszko I adopted Christianity as the state religion, and soon a Marian shrine was built on Chelmska Hill. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Koszalin was one of the richest towns in Pomerania due to its advantageous location on several trade routes. Lake Jamno was a bay at this time and linked the town directly with the open sea, a situation that did not change until the 17th century when the isthmus between it and the open sea silted up and the town started to lose trade as a consequence. But before this happened, Koszalin had become the seat of the Pomeranian dukes and bishops from the Gryfits dynasty.
After the 17th century Thirty Years' War, Koszalin became part of Brandenburg and was considered to be the capital of the Duchy of Kashubia. In 1718 the town was destroyed thoroughly by a great fire, the damage being so complete that the town was almost abandoned.
In the years 1815-1945 Koszalin was the capital of Prussian part of Pomerania. During that period it became an important industrial centre and railway junction. The town was largely destroyed by the Russian army during World War II and finally liberated in 1945. Between 1950 and 1998, Koszalin remained a provincial capital, but as a result of the administrative reform of 1998 it became part of the Western Pomeranian Voivodship.