Słupsk (also known by several alternative names) is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship, in the northern part of Poland. Before 1 January 1999, it was the capital of the separate Słupsk Voivodeship. It is also a part of the historic region of Pomerania.
The city is located in the northwestern part of present-day Poland, near the Baltic Sea on the Słupia River. It is the administrative seat of Słupsk County, although it is not part of that county (the city has county status in its own right). It has a population of 98,757 and occupies 43.15 square kilometres (16.66 sq mi), being one of the most densely populated cities in the country according to the Central Statistical Office. The neighbouring administrative districts (gminas) are Gmina Kobylnica and Gmina Słupsk. There is ongoing discussion regarding extension of the city boundaries to include some territory belonging to those two gminas.
Słupsk had its origins as a Slavic Pomeranian settlement on the Słupia river in early Middle Ages, which later became part of Piast Poland. In 1265 it was given city rights. By the 14th century, the town had become a centre of local administration and trade and a Hanseatic League associate. Between 1368 and 1478, it was the residence of the Dukes of Pomerania. In 1648, according to the peace treaty of Osnabrück, Słupsk became part of Brandenburg-Prussia. In 1815 it was incorporated into the newly formed Prussian Province of Pomerania. The city became part of the People's Republic of Poland in 1945.
Slavic names in Pomeranian Stolpsk, Stôłpsk, Słëpsk, Słëpsko, Stôłp and Polish Słupsk may be etymologically related to the words słup ("pile") and stołp ("keep"). Two hypotheses regarding the origins of those names exist: one claims that it refers to a specific way of constructing buildings on boggy ground with additional pile support, which is still in use, while the other says that it is connected with a tower or other defensive structure built on the banks of the Słupia River.
Later during German rule the town was named Stolp, to which the suffix in Pommern was attached in order to avoid confusion with other places similarly named. The Germanised name comes from one of five Slavic Pomeranian names of this settlement. The city was occasionally called Stolpe (referring to the Słupia River, whose German name is also Stolpe. Stolpe is also the Latin exonym for this place.
Administratively, the city of Słupsk has the status of both an urban gmina and a city county (powiat). The city boundaries are generally artificial, with only short natural boundaries around the villages of Kobylnica and Włynkówko on the Słupia River. The boundaries have remained unchanged since 1949, when Ryczewo became a part of the city. In March 2008, Mayor Maciej Kobyliński put forward a proposal to expand the city limits by incorporating some territory from neighbouring districts.
Słupsk shares about three-quarters of its boundaries with the rural district called Gmina Słupsk, of which Słupsk is the administrative seat (although it is not part of the district). The city's other neighbouring district is Gmina Kobylnica, to the south-west. The Słupsk Special Economic Zone is not entirely contained within the city limits: a portion of it lies within Gmina Słupsk, while some smaller areas are at quite a distance from Słupsk (Debrzno), or even in another voivodeship (Koszalin, Szczecinek, Wałcz).
The city has a fairly irregular shape, with its central point at Plac Zwycięstwa ("Victory Square") at 54°27'51N 17°01'42E.
Topography and landmarks
Słupsk lies in a pradolina of the Słupia River. The city centre is situated significantly lower than its western and easternmost portions. Divided into two almost equal parts by the river, Słupsk is hilly when compared to other cities in the region. About 5 square kilometres (1.9 sq mi) of the city's area is covered by forests, while 17 square kilometres (6.6 sq mi) is used for agricultural purposes.
Słupsk is rich in natural water bodies. There are more than twenty ponds, mostly former meanders of the Słupia, within the city limits. There are also several streams, irrigation canals (generally unused and abandoned) and a leat. Except in the city centre, all these watercourses are unregulated.
There is generally little human influence on landform features visible within the city limits. However, in the northwestern part of the city there is a huge hollow, a remnant of a former sand mine. Although there were once plans to build a waterpark in this area, they were later abandoned and the site remains unused.
Słupsk has a temperate marine climate, like the rest of the Polish coastal regions. The city lies in a zone where the continental climate influences are very weak compared with other regions of Poland. The warmest month is July, with an average temperature range of 11 to 21 °C (52 to 70 °F). The coolest month is February, averaging -5 to 0 °C (23 to 32 °F). The wettest month is August with average precipitation of 90 millimetres (3.5 in), while the driest is March, averaging only 20 millimetres (0.79 in). Snowfalls are always possible between December and April.
Słupsk developed from a few medieval settlements located on the banks of the Słupia River, at the unique ford along the trade route connecting the territories of modern Pomeranian and West Pomeranian Voivodeships. This factor led to construction of a grad, a Slavic fortified settlement, on an islet in the middle of the river. Surrounded by swamps and mires, the fortress had perfect defence conditions. Archeological research has shown that the grad was situated on an artificial hill and had a natural moat formed by the branches of the Słupia, and was protected by a palisade. The city's official webpage notes that the area of Ziemia Słupska was part of the Polish realm during the reign of Mieszko I and in the eleventh century
According to the city's webpage, the first historic note about Słupsk comes from 1015 when ruler of Poland Bolesław I Chrobry took over the town, incorporating it into Polish state. In the twelfth century, the town became one of the most important castellanies in Pomorze besides Gdańsk and Świecie. Historian Roderich Schmidt says that the first mention was in two documents dating to 1227, signed by the Pomeranian dukes Wartislaw III and Barnim I and their mothers, confirming the establishment of Marienbusch Abbey in 1224 and donating estates, among them a village "in Stolp minore" or "in parvo Ztolp", respectively, to that abbey. Another document dated to 1180, which mentions a "castellania Slupensis" and would thus be the oldest surviving record, has been identified as a late 13th-century or 14th-century fake.
The Griffin dukes lost the area to the Samborides during the following years, and the next surviving documents mentioning the area concern donations made by Samboride Swietopelk II, dating to 1236 (two documents) and 1240. In the earlier of the two 1236 documents, a Johann "castellanus de Slupcz" is mentioned as a witness, Schmidt considers this to be the earliest mention of the gard, since a castellany required the existence of a gard. The first surviving record explicitly mentioning the gard is from 1269: it notes a "Christianus, castellanus in castro Stolpis, et Hermannus, capellanus in civitate ante castrum predictum", thus confirming the existence of a fortress ("castrum") with a suburbium ("civitas"). Schmidt further says that the office of a capellanus required a church, which he identifies as Saint Peter's. This church is mentioned by name for the first time in a 1281 document of Samboride Mestwin II, which also mentions Saint Nicolai church and a Saint Mary's chapel in the fortress. The oldest mention of Saint Nicolai church dates to 1276.
Modern Słupsk's website says that the town was probably given city rights in 1265. Schmidt says that city rights were granted for the first time in a document dated 9 September 1310: Brandenburgian margraves Waldemar and Johann V granted Lübeck law, which he confirmed and extended in a second document, dated 2 February 1313. The margraves had acquired the area when Mestwin II accepted them as his superiors in 1269, confirmed in 1273, and kept it after Mestwin II's death while leaving local rule in the hands of the Swenzones dynasty, whose members were castellans in Stolp. The governors of Stolp had bought Stolpmünde and then built a port there, enabling a maritime economy to develop. In 1368 Pomerania-Stolp was split off from Pomerania-Wolgast. In 1410 Bogusław VIII gave a tribute to Polish king Władysław Jagiełło It became part of the Duchy of Pomerania in 1478.
The Reformation reached the town in 1521, when Christian Ketelhut preached in the town. Ketelhut had to leave Stolp in 1522 due to an intervention of Bogislaw X, Duke of Pomerania. Peter Suawe, a Protestant from Stolp, however kept on preaching. In 1524, Johannes Amandus from Königsberg and others arrived and preached in a more radical way. As a consequence, the Holy Mary's Church was profaned, the monastery's church was burned, and the clergy were treated poorly. The inhabitants of the town began converting to Lutheranism. In 1560 Polish pastor Paweł Buntowski preaches in the town, and in 1586 Polish religious literature spreads out.
The local ruling house, the House of Pomerania (Griffins), died out in 1637. The territory of the Duchy of Pomerania was partitioned between Brandenburg-Prussia and Sweden. After the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and the Treaty of Stettin (1653), Stolp came under Brandenburgian control. In 1660, Kashubian dialect was allowed to be taught but only in religious studies. Polish language in general however was experiencing very unfavourable conditions due to depopulation of the area in numerous wars and germanization made great advances in this time period.
After the Thirty Years' War, Stolp lost much of its former importancedespite the fact that Stettin was then a part of Sweden, the province's capital was situated not in the second-largest city of the region, but in the one closest to the former ducal residenceStargard. However, the local economy stabilized. The constant dynamic development of the Kingdom of Prussia and good economic conditions saw the city develop. After the major state border changes (modern Vorpommern and Stettin joined the Prussian state after a conflict with Sweden) Stolp was only an administrative centre of the Kreis within the Regierungsbezirk of Köslin. However, its geographical location led to rapid development, and in the 19th century it was the second city of the province in terms of both population and industrialization.
In 1769, Frederick II of Prussia established a military school in the city, according to Stanisław Salmonowicz its purpose was the germanization of local Polish nobility.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the city was taken by 1500 Polish soldiers under the leadership of general Michał Sokolnicki in 1807.
In 1815 it became one of the cities of the Province of Pomerania (18151945), in which it remained until 1945. In 1869 a railway from Danzig reached Stolp.
During the 19th century, the city's boundaries were significantly extended towards the west and south. The new railway station was built about 1,000 metres from the old city. In 1901, the construction of a new city hall was completed, followed by a local administration building in 1903. In 1910 a tram line was opened. The football club Viktoria Stolp was formed in 1901. In 1914, before the First World War, Stolp had 34,340 inhabitants.
Stolp was not directly affected by the fighting in the First World War. The trams did not run during the war, returning to the streets in 1919. Demographic growth remained high, although development slowed, because the city became peripheral, the Kreis being situated on post-war Germany's border with the Polish Corridor. Polish claims to Stolp and its neighbouring area were refused during the Treaty of Versailles negotiations. From 1926 the city became an active point of Nazi supporters, and NSDAP influence grew rapidly. The party received 49.1% of the city's vote in the German federal election of March 1933. During the Kristallnacht, the night of 9/10 November 1938, the local synagogue was burned down.
The beginning of the Second World War halted the development of the city. The Nazis created a labour camp there, which became Außenarbeitslager Stolp, a subcamp of the Stutthof concentration camp. During the war, Germans brought forced labourers from occupied and conquered countries and committed numerous atrocities. People in the labour camp were maltreated physically and psychologically and forced to undertake exhausting work while being subject to starvation. Between July 1944 and February 1945, 800 prisoners were murdered by Germans in a branch of the Stutthof camp located in a railway yard in the city; today a monument honours the memory of those victims. Other victims of German atrocities included 23 Polish children murdered between December 1944 and February 1945, and 24 people (23 men and one woman) murdered by the SS on 7 March 1945, just before the Red Army took over the city without any serious resistance on 8 March 1945. In fear of Soviet repressions, up to 1,000 inhabitants committed suicide. Thousands remained in the city; the others had fled and the Nazi soldiers abandoned it. However, Russian soldiers were ordered to set fire to the centre of the city. The Red Army initially set up administrative headquarters in the city hall.
After the war, according to the preliminary agreements of the conferences of Yalta and Potsdam, the German territories east of the Oder-Neisse line most of Pomerania, Silesia and East Prussia were transferred to Poland and from the middle of 1945 through to 1946 the surviving Germans were expelled. The town's name was now changed into "Słupsk" (the Polish version of its name) by the Commission for the Determination of Place Names on 23 April 1945. It was initially part of Okręg III, comprising the whole territory of the former Province of Pomerania east of the Oder River. Nearly the entire German population was expelled and deported soon after 1945. Their houses in Stolp were taken over by Poles from central Poland and from the former Polish eastern territories re-conquered by the Soviet Union. Also Ukrainians and Lemkos settled into the town during Operation Vistula.
Słupsk later became part of Szczecin Voivodeship and then Koszalin Voivodeship, and in 1975 became the capital of the new province of Słupsk Voivodeship. The city was a cultural centre. The Millennium Cinema was one of the first in Poland to have a cinerama. The puppet theatre Tęcza used to collaborate with the similar institution called Arcadia in Oradea, Romania, but the partnership ceased after 1989.
During the 1970 protests there were minor strikes and demonstrations. No-one was killed during the militia's interventions.
Major street name changes were made in Słupsk after the Autumn of Nations in 1989. Also a process of major renovations and refurbishments began, beginning in the principal neighbourhoods. According to the administrative reform of Poland in 1999, Słupsk Voivodeship was dissolved and divided between two larger regions: Pomeranian Voivodeship and West Pomeranian Voivodeship. Słupsk itself became part of the former. The reform was criticized by locals, who wanted to create a separate Middle Pomeranian Voivodeship. In 1998 a major riot took place after a basketball game.
In 2014, Słupsk elected Poland's first openly gay mayor, Robert Biedroń.