The Port Handlowy Swinoujscie is in Swinoujscie in far northwestern Poland off the Baltic Sea. The city covers several islands, including Usedom and Wolin as well as several small islands. The islands separate the Szczecinski Lagoon at the mouth of the Swina River from the Baltic Sea. Port Handlowy Swinoujscie is an important fishing port and a popular resort. In 2002, almost 42 thousand people called the Port Handlowy Swinoujscie home.
The Odra Estuary was home to early man. The first tribes, of German and Slavic origin, came here from six to four thousand years ago. Neighboring Wolin was already a growing town by the 10th Century.
The Port Handlowy Swinoujscie was first mentioned in 1181 when the fist castles were built on the Swina River, but it had long been a fishing village before then. Danes, Germans, and Swedes invaded the early settlement many times. The Danes destroyed the castles on the Swina in 1184. Swedish troops came here in 1630, and the 1720 Treaty of Stockholm assigned the area to Prussia.
In the early 17th Century, the river was enlarged to make it possible for large ships to navigate. In the middle 18th Century, dredging of the river and construction of the port began at the mouth of the Swina River. In 1747, Port Handlowy Swinoujscie became an official seaport and Szczecin’s outer harbor.
Frederick II of Prussia granted town privileges to the future Port Handlowy Swinoujscie in 1765 when it was the outer port for Stettin (Szczecin) within the Prussian Province of Pomerania. During the 19th Century, the Port Handlowy Swinoujscie was a naval base and industrial center for Germany. The town’s industries were almost all based on shipping and fishing, and the entrance to the harbor was heavily protected and fortified. The breakwaters were constructed from 1818 to 1823, and Port Handlowy Swinoujscie became a popular seaside resort and European spa in 1824.
In 1848, construction began on the Swinoujscie Fortress, and the lighthouse was completed in 1959. At the time, the lighthouse was the tallest in the world. When Germany was unified in 1871, the town became part of the German Empire. In 1876, the railway reached Port Handlowy Swinoujscie from Berlin. The Piastowski Channel was opened in 1880. The Kaiserfahrt Canal was opened in 1897 and deepened in 1900.
From 1934 to 1939, Port Handlowy Swinoujscie was a naval station for Hitler’s Kriegsmarine. During World War II, the Port Handlowy Swinoujscie was all but destroyed. In 1945, Allied forces heavily bombed the refugee-crowded city, killing up to 25 thousand people. The city was administered by Poland after the war, and its German people were expelled to be replaced by Poles who had escaped from Polish areas taken by the Soviet Union. That winter, victims of German concentration camps and repression took revenge on local Germans, killing 40 civilians.
The Soviet Union occupied the town in 1945. The Odra fishing base was constructed from 1948 until 1951. In 1992, the last Soviet troops left Port Handlowy Swinoujscie.
After World War II, the town was rebuilt as part of the Szczecin-Swinoujscie port complex, the Port Handlowy Swinoujscie has become one of Poland’s busiest ports. It also supports ferries that carry passengers to and from Denmark and Sweden. In 1999, Port Handlowy Swinoujscie became a city with a county’s administrative rights.