This castle is the mother of all Szczecin monuments. This vast, blocky building looms over the Old Town, but the square central courtyard and simple Renaissance-style decoration atop the walls have a certain understated grace (spot the repeated circular pattern that resembles the Yin and Yang symbol). The castle was originally built in the mid-14th century and grew into its current form by 1577, but was destroyed by Allied carpet bombing in 1944 before being extensively restored.
The Castle Museum (Muzeum Zamkowe) allows you to get inside the building where the star exhibits are six spectacular sarcophagi of the Pomeranian dukes. These large tin boxes are decorated with a fine engraved ornamentation and were made between 1606 and 1637 by artists from Königsberg. Following the death of the last Pomeranian duke, Bogusław XIV, the crypt was walled up until the sarcophagi were discovered during restoration work in 1946, after the castle’s wartime destruction. The remains of the dukes were deposited in the cathedral, while the least-damaged sarcophagi were restored for display.
Various temporary exhibitions and displays of art take place in other rooms of the castle. In summer, concerts and opera are held in the courtyard (www.opera.szczecin.pl). The castle also houses a restaurant, a cinema and a decent gift shop.