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GoPoland!: Where to Go: Kolobrzeg: History

Never judge a town by its cover: the sea resort of Kolobrzeg may look new, but its history stretches back over a millenium. Initially settled in the 7th century when an enterprising type located that valued commodity salt in nearby springs, Kolobrzeg grew strong enough over the next 3 centuries to warrant a bishopric when christianity came to Poland, and Poland came to Kolobrzeg in the year 1000.

Kolobrzeg continued to grow, coming to rival the southern seats of bishopric power in Krakow and Wroclaw, but the good times ended when the Swedes arrived, and then the Brandenburg margraves. Hoping to create an impenetrable fortress, the margraves fortified the renamed 'Kolberg' but no fort ever dissuaded the truly committed. Kolberg fell to the Russians in the 1700's and the French in the following century.

The ruin that accompanied both invasions shifted the town's purpose away from the industrial and towards the recreational: Kolberg became a spa. The resort established then now draws over a million visitors each year. They come for the sea, not the historical quaintness of the town, for it was entirely devastated at the end of WWII. In a gesture saturated with symbolism, Polish residents reclaimed the city for the long-gone Piasts, Poland's first dynasty, by wedding Kolobrzeg with the sea: they ceremonially threw a ring into the ocean.

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