I Świnoujście - Wolin [40 km]
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent", Winston Churchill said in his famous speech in 1946, symbolically beginning the period of the Cold War. It is strange that the English prime minister apparently did pay strict attention to geography, as it is not Stettin (Szczecin) but Świnoujście that has a seaport on the Baltic Sea.
Świnoujście has attractions from when it was located on the worse side of the iron curtain, such as the top-secret Underground City, which has recently been made available for sightseeing (described in detail at the Szczecin Lagoon Cycle Route). Still, even more military objects remember Prussian times. The most interesting is the Gerhard Fort, where tourists visit the fortifications, go through a drill, and can see a cannon shot. Right next to it stands the tallest lighthouse in Poland. From its top, you can see the LNG terminal, which can be considered a part of a modern energy defense system. On the other side of Świna, near the spa park, stands Angel's Fort. The name refers to the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, which has a round shape, like the one in Świnoujście.
The Iron Curtain Trail (EV13) - the longest European bicycle route, runs through the city. The West Pomeranian part of this trail is called Velo Baltica, which is also a part of the EuroVelo Baltic Sea Cycle Route (EV10). Our trail - Blue Velo - heads south in the proximity of Oder River. It is a project that aims to become the Polish answer to famous European cycle routes like the Danube cycle path, although it doesn’t necessarily strictly follow the Oder River.
In the Świnoujście - Międzyzdroje section, our route coincides with the EuroVelo 10 and 13 routes mentioned above. The stage to Międzyzdroje consists largely of dirt forest roads, approaching the beach before Międzyzdroje. This fragment is marked as the R-10 route. The section from Międzyzdroje through Wapnica to Wolin has already been completed and marked; it runs along separate bicycle paths, local roads and gravel sections.
On the way, we pass by another interesting military facility: a mini-museum - the V-3 Weapon Range. V-3 is known as the longest cannon of World War II. The next stop is Wapnica, with its turquoise lake. We recommend going uphill 2 km to Lubin, to visit the observation deck in the 12th-century stronghold. It offers a fantastic panorama of the Lagoon and the regressive delta of the Świna river. On the other side, there is the Karsiborska Kępa nature reserve. It is one of the first reserves in Poland established by an NGO (Polish Society for the Protection of Birds), and a few percent of the world's population of Aquatic Warblers - a rare migratory bird - nests in meadows overgrown with low reeds.
The road to the town of Wolin leads through the Wolin National Park, which protects the precious landscape of the islands with its forests and cliffs, as well as birds, including the white-tailed eagle, present in the park's emblem.