A large town of more than 70 thousand inhabitants, Stargard is primarily attractive for its historical heritage, although it also has plenty of other attractions to offer. Visitors are easily enchanted with Stargard’s Gothic architecture and the huge Miedwie Lake, the latter located 8 kilometres from the town. This area of Western Pomerania has plenty of other fascinating places to visit, although having enough time to do them all may be a problem.
Stargard is full of extraordinary historical sights which are certainly worth seeing there. First of all is the parish church, an imposing red brick building from the 13th century which astonishes everyone with the large number of architectural details and decorative elements of diverse shapes. The other church is St John the Baptist’s and this boasts a large, 99-metre high tower. Among other interesting sights of Stargard are the medieval town hall and the guardhouse, which houses a branch of the regional museum and contains a collection of armoury.
Since Stargard was once an important fortress for Western Pomerania, the city was surrounded with strong fortifications with a number of towers and gates. Many of them still remain and are a great attraction and give Stargard a special ambiance. An unusual construction is the town gate, which is based on both banks of the river. Built in the 15th century, it was designed as a gate for ships calling at the port, although today you should climb to the top of the tower known as “the Red Sea” to enjoy a great panorama of the whole town.
Interestingly enough, Stargard lies on the 15th meridian, a fact commemorated by a stone encircled by a number of trees. This meridian is the central axis of central-European time, making Stargard one of few places when clock time and sun time are exactly the same, at least in winter.
As its name indicates, the town of Stargard is located near Szczecin, the capital of Western Pomerania. Located in the north-western nook of Poland, it features a rather flat terrain with mild hills formed by the glaciations of past ice ages. Stargard lies near the mouth of the Ina River where it flows into the Szczecin Bay.
The very beginnings of the first settlement on this site dates from about 1500-1000 BC, but the first town was established there in the 10th century. It was firstly recorded in 1124 when Otto von Bamberg organised a mission to these lands in order to popularise Christianity. From the 14th century onwards, Stargard was a member of Hanseatic League.
Over the centuries Stargard was the main rival of Szczecin in competing for domination of the region. Eventually, it was Szczecin that was to become the main port on the bay, although back in the Middle Ages these two towns were comparable in terms of size and importance.
The city underwent serious damage during the Thirty Years’ War and the Swedish Deluge. In the second half of the 17th century it became a capital city of Outer Pomerania, controlled by the Brandenburgs and formed a stimulus for the quick reconstruction of the city. The 18th and 19th centuries brought further development of the town, mainly due to the construction of a railway connecting Stargard with Szczecin and Poznan in the 1840s. Stargard’s area began to extend beyond the fortified walls during this period.
Stargard became part of Poland in 1945 after the Soviet Army defeated the Nazi troops occupying the city. During the battles, most of the historical buildings were either razed to the ground or heavily destroyed. Following the war the town was gradually restored and much of its historical fabric has since been reconstructed.