Pomerania (Pomorze) is a historical and geographical region in northern Poland along the Baltic coast.
It is divided into West Pomerania (with Szczecin) and East (Gdansk) Pomerania. Geographically, it encompasses two different landscape belts: the coast and, more up-country, lake districts.
Under Duke Mieszko I, Poland's first historically known ruler (in the 10th century), the whole Pomerania belonged to Poland, but over the subsequent centuries it often changed hands. It was always a land of many cultures and influences: German, Slavic, Scandinavian, which left its imprint on local art and architecture.
The Baltic beaches are a great place for collecting amber washed up by the sea. This resin of prehistoric conifers, some 40 million years old, is used mainly for producing jewellery, but is also has curative properties, known and appreciated since the antiquity.
The most impressive strongholds and castles, today making one of the region's biggest tourist attractions, were built by the Teutonic Knights. After the Second World War almost the entire Pomerania (except for its westernmost fringes) was given to Poland.
Polish coast is regarded as one of the most beautiful stretches of the Baltic coast. The sea, skirted by broad sandy beaches and scenic dunes, attracts lovers of bathing, suntanning and other leisure activities, who can choose between trendy resorts with great restaurants and lively discos, picturesque old towns, and fishing villages with wild, remote beaches. To the south lies the Pomeranian Lake District (Pojezierze Pomorskie), a land of clean lakes and almost impassable forests.
The sea, beaches, lakes, rivers and forests are conducive to all kinds of tourism. The region is crisscrossed with scenic hiking and biking trails; in many places you can also ride a horse. Accommodation is easy to find in numerous holiday complexes, pensions, guest houses, campsites and agrotourist farms.
The Baltic coastline has alternate high and low stretches: cliffs and dunes. The highest (up to 100 metres) and most impressive cliffs can be found in Wolin Island where they are protected by the Wolin National Park. Its pride is also a closed reserve of European bisons as well as ten couples of white-tailed eagles nesting on the island.
East of Wolin lies a dramatically different area, sometimes referred to as "Polish Sahara". If you want to have a closer look at its beauty, you should visit the Slowinski National Park, situated in the central part of the Polish coast. The park protects the biggest shifting dunes in Central Europe, which are blown inland by the wind. Some of them move south-east at a speed of up to 10 metres a year. The dunes take on fantastic shapes: parabolic dykes, burial mounds, hills, troughs and basins which indeed evoke Saharan landscapes. Some of these sand heaps are up to 40 metres high. The park is best visited on foot or by bike. The total length of its marked trails is 140 km.
Peace and quiet can be also enjoyed in the Drawa Lake District (Pojezierze Drawskie) with the lush mixed forests of the Puszcza Drawska, charming lakes and meandering rivers including the Drawa (great for canoeing).
The biggest and most beautiful city in Pomerania is Gdansk, which really deserves to be seen. The thousand-year-old city boasts Poland's biggest Old Town, laid out, built and adorned by Europe's leading architects. This incredibly atmospheric city has been an important seaport since the 14th century when it joined the Hanseatic League. Its greatest architectural gems are the enormous St Mary's Church, which is the largest brick Gothic church in the world, and the cathedral in the suburb of Oliwa, with the famous organ noted for its unusual tone.
With the neighbouring Gdynia and Sopot, Gdansk composes a vast metropolis known as Tri-City (Trójmiasto). Sopot, once called the Riviera of the North, is also worth visiting for its unique atmosphere. Its pride and joy is the famous wooden pier, one of the longest in Europe (516 metres plus a 100-metre spur), and the Opera in the Woods which plays host to an international song festival (every August).
There are many popular resorts along the Baltic coast. Miedzyzdroje in Wolin Island is favoured by the Polish jet set. Every summer the town holds an increasingly renowned film festival. The biggest number of sanatoriums and holiday complexes are in Kolobrzeg. Over a dozen brine springs in this spa (exploited since the 7th century) attract patients with respiratory and circulatory problems, rheumatism, metabolic disorders and diabetes.
Enormously popular are the resorts in the Hel Peninsula. The quiet and neat villages of Jurata, Jastarnia, Chalupy and Hel, with their clean, wide beaches sheltered by dunes and pine groves, are a delight for those who seek peace and relaxation. This is also a good place for windsurfing. And you will find one of the nicest naturalist nude beaches in Poland. See Chalupy Nude Beach In Northern Poland
Another town you must not miss is Malbork in East Pomerania. It owes its fame to the biggest Gothic fortress in Europe, built in the Middle Ages by the Teutonic Order. It actually consists of three separate castles and the whole complex of defensive walls and towers covers over 20 hectares. It has been commanding awe and reverence since the 13th century. Visited every year by half a million tourists, in 1997 the Malbork Castle was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.