Heringsdorf is probably the most elegant of Usedom's seaside resorts. It was officially declared a health resort in 1825 and quickly became very fashionable with the rich & famous of that time. The impressive villas from that time have been restored and converted into hotels or holiday apartments now.
Another main sight is the 508m long sea bridge (Seebrücke), built in 1995, with a restaurant at the end.
The beach is of fine sand and very kilometres long. A promenade connects Heringsdorf with Bansin to the West and Ahlbeck to the East.
The seaside resort of Ahlbeck developped as rapidly as Heringsdorf althought it started of some 20+ years later. The place is full of those magnificent villas from imperial times aswell.
Main icon of Ahlbeck is the wooden pavillion on the sea bridge though, which originates from the 1930ties.
From Ahlbeck you can cross the border to Poland. The checkpoint is open to pedestrians and cyclists only.
The seaside resort of Bansin is the youngest of the three "Kaiserbäder" (Ahlbeck, Heringsdorf, Bansin), founded only in 1896. To the South to resort, on Lake Gothen lies the village of Bansin which existed already in the middle age.
The resort has beautiful villas and beaches aswell.
Peenemünde was a quiet little fishing village until 1936 when the Nazis started to built the most modern research & testing facility for rockets (Heeresversuchsanstalt) at that time. In 1942 the world's first long distance rocket Aggregat 4 (better known as V2 for Vergeltungswaffe/weapon of vengeance) was successfully launched here. In 1943 Peenemünde was bombed by the Allies and the production of the V2 was moved to Mittelbau Dora/Nordhausen in the Harz mountains. The development and production of the V2 claimed 20.000 lives, more than the use of the weapon itself. After the war Peenemünde still was used by the military until 1995.
There's a great museum inside the old powerstation about the history of rocket research aswell as a memorial towards all the people who were murdered through them.
Apart from that there are some left-overs from the army of the GDR (planes, helicopters and a ship) and a Soviet submarine to visit.
Nowadays about 300 people do live in Peenemünde again, but the place still has the feel of a Ghost town to it, as most buildings are empty and decaying.
The sea bridge of Ahlbeck, with its red roof, four green towers and a 280m landing stage, is the main landmark of the island and the only bridge of its kind on the Baltic Sea coast of Germany.
Therein a super restaurant, with a nice view over the Baltic Sea.
The beach is fantastic, with white and long sand beaches. The 42 km long, white, stone free sandy beach of the island is unequalled. Depending upon the wave lengths, the beach can be up to 70m broad. All beaches are supervised by life savers.
Swimming, sailing or surfing....
You can also rent beach chairs and relaxe... so wonderful.
Near Stettiner Haff, this bridge was the gate (train) between Haff and Peenestrom. Built 1875 it was this time the modern train bridge above sea. Destroyed in WWII, April 1945, by German troups because of the coming Russian Army .
Its now a technical historical building.
Did you? I didn't, I actually hated it, mostly because it was so boring to sit and watch the teacher talk about experiments.In this museum, the Phänomenta, I got to DO many of the experiments myself and liked it a lot! The whole museum is hands-on, try everything.
Do you remember learning about the law of the lever? In the Phänomenta there is a car , a Trabi, waiting to be lifted by a lever. I did it , holding down the lever and taking a picture with my other hand. (Okay, the picture turned out pretty dark.)
Sound waves? That's something I thought very interesting: There was a burning candle on a small table, 1.50 meters away from a bass drum. When I hit the other side of the bass drum, the sound waves extinguished the light of the candle.
You could try and throw magnets towards a pendulum, getting it to change its course. I tried, several teenage kids tried, but it took the proverbial little old lady to succeed.
The only experiment which was allowed under supervision of the staff only was the one of zero gravity. They call it training of astronauts and people were lining up for it. In a sort of swinging chair the would -be astronaut was strapped and then the chair started turning really fast. Those who did it loved it.
If you come here with children you should bring lots of time!
This museum is called the Historisch-Technisches Museum.It is is the largest one in Peenemünde and shows a very well-presented exhibition about the rockets and WWII.
Space engineering eventually developed out of the technology from here, but the main emphasis of the museum is WWII history. The long, dark barracks in which the forced labourers had to stay are part of the museum; however, they are not open to the public.
A large part of the museum is outdoors, be prepared when think you go and see the museum on a rainy day.
I was very impressed by the giftshop of the museum. It doesn't have the usual tourist souvenirs, but also a very good selection of books about war history , some even in English. This is a giftshop which pays attention to the sober theme of the exhibition.
Peenemünde was the site of factories in which long-distant rockets were built and launched during WWII.
Today the town hosts several museums, the largest being the one about the rocket factories. The whole centre of the small town is supposed to be like a museum, at least this is the explanation the city council gives for not repairing the many broken buildings. They say these grey and sadly looking buildings with the shattered windows are a real part of the past and should be kept that way. While I can follow this reasoning in the case of the barracks for the forced labourers during the war, I cannot understand why nothing is done to repair - or even tear down - the shattered houses apart from the museum.
In the town centre there are four museums, the rocket one called the Historisch-Technisches Museum, the Phänomenta, a museum for physical experiments , a submarine museum which includes a Russian submarine in the harbour and a toy museum. I only had a peek into the toy museum. It is very small, just starting out apparently, so maybe it pays to come back in a year or two. I asked about a catalogue, but so far they haven't published one.
This is the kind of small museum run by dedicated volunteers I love. It is in Karlshagen, just a small garden and a few rooms, full of information material and show cases.
Here I was able to learn more about the otters on Usedom. When we were there the members were having a meeting.Everybody kept offering us a "nice cup of coffee" or a "good piece of home-made cake".
It's a very informative and friendly place.
Entrance is free.
The small town of Koserow is on the narrowest - most narrow? - part of Usedom. Local legend claims that the old city of Vineta had been here, before it was swallowed by the sea, a sort of Baltic Atlantis. But then, there are several other places in the area who claim the same and to this day it has not even been established without a doubt that Vineta existed in fact.
Koserow is a nice town, with two items of interest for tourists, salt huts and the church.
Before there were refridgerators fish had to be salted to be kept. The huts in which this was done can be seen today, close to the beach .They were built in 1820, when the government wanted the salt to be kept here under its control. Since it was state-owned salt, it was tax-free.Today the huts have been turned into small shops and restaurants.
The very pretty church in Koserow is from 13th century. Unfortunately it was locked when we were there, but even from the outside you could see it was special. Built from rocks and stones, not exactly measured bricks, it resembles a ship, very fitting for a church on an island. I had read about a wooden cross kept in it, which for a long time was thought ( and hoped ) to be from Vineta, until scientists found out it was made in Scandinavia in the 15th century.
From Zinnowitz to Koserow
We had a nice hike along the beach , starting in Zinnowitz on our way to Koserow. It was a warm day and many people were out in the sea swimming. The beach is really nice there, lots of sand and easy to walk barefoot.
On the other side of the beach the highest mountain on Usedom can be seen, the Streckelberg - 60 meter high! Out in the sea three walls had been built of heaps of rocks to protect this mountain from the surf. The first walls were put up end of the 19th century. I was wondering why this was necessary, as the Baltic sea has hardly any tide, but later heard about heavy storms in winter when parts of the high dunes were destroyed.
In order not to damage them an iron stair was built to cross into the woods above or into the town of Koserow.
Close to Koserow there is also a small lake with a nice trail around it. When it got wet we could use the wooden planks laid out there, but there were broken for the most part and didn't look very safe.
To go back to Zinnowitz you can either choose the hike through the woods or walk along the beach again.
Ahlbeck,Heringsdorf and Bansin are called the Kaiserbäder - the Emperor's Resorts.They are probably the most famous seaside resorts on Usedom. In late 19th century it became fashionable for rich families to spend some weeks in summer on Usedom. Back then, the island earned itself the somewhat dubious name of "Berlin's bathtub".
Today you can still admire the beautiful villas, very colourfully restored in the last few years.Long beaches with beach chairs, piers leading out into the sea, promenades with shops selling the typical seaside toys like buckets, spades, kites etc -you get the picture.
Each of the resorts is very nice. There are said to be distinctive differences between them, I didn't stay long enough to realize them.There is a very pleasant, relaxed atmosphere in all of them, but in the short time we were there all three towns looked more or less the same to me, similar to any other seaside resort, except for the old villas. The three Kaiserbäder lack the very distinctive atmosphere I found in some other parts of the island.
One disappointing aspect: The tourist information in Heringsdorf was very small provided hardly any information and couldn't help me at all.
Swinoujscie is Usedom's (Uznam in Polish) biggest town. It occupies most of the Polish part of the island and actually itself is divided between two islands. The Western part with the city centre and the passenger port lies on Usedom and the Eastern part with the old lighthouse, fortress ruins and the industrial port is on Wolin. The river Swina separates the two islands and a free ferry connectes them.
Besides enjoying beach life you can visit the old lighthouse and the fortresses from the 19th century and the museum of Deep Sea Fishing in the old town hall.
Zinnowitz is yet another nice resort with a long & wide beautiful white sands beach.
It's newest attraction is a dive gondola. It takes you down to the bottom of the sea (only 3m deep here) and as there isn't much to see in the murky waters of the Baltic (except for quite some jellyfish) you are shown some educative films about the oceans. Of course you'll get a lot of info on the Baltic Sea aswell.
The resort is also home to the Vineta-Festival in summer, which brings the legend of Vineta (a rich & beautiful town on the Baltic Sea shores which, according to the legend was destroyed by floods-evidence of its existence was never found though) on stage.