Today I’m taking you to a town in Poland called Szczecin. To explore some of the winter struck forest trails and lakes as well as an abandoned orphanage!
I’m biased when it comes to the beauty of Poland. It is my motherland after all. There are so many amazing places there, rich in beauty, history and culture. And Szczecin is no different. It’s abundant in nature with miles of forest lands, full of mysterious places, with remnants and artifacts of WW2 scattered everywhere.
To start off this trip, I went to a place called ‘Jezioro Glebokie’. It’s a beautiful woodland area with a lake and tourist attractions. It’s located just a few minutes from the city center. The cold winter air bit my cheeks as soon as I stepped out of the car.
Around The Lake
The weather forecasts predicted heavy snowfall, but there wasn’t any that day. In fact, there were still strong remnants of autumn everywhere.
I began the hike around the lake. There are various walking paths taking you across routes that vary in length and difficulty. I chose one of the easier ones which would take me around the lake in about 2 hours. I found myself marveled at the beauty surrounding me, with the calm lake and the tree branches reflecting in the waters. Quickly I picked up my pace of walking though so that my feet wouldn’t freeze to the ground.
I watched the trees and branches, hoping to see some wildlife, sadly though the only wild view I came across were jogger men, running past- wearing VERY revealing leggings. Oops.
What I like about Polish forests, is that most will have some wooden benches, picnic tables and sometimes even designated fireplaces. And even here amidst the coldness of winter- there were people sitting on the benches, near the fire and baking some sausages. Who said BBQ’s are only a summer thing? Hehe
Walking through the forest I found more interesting sights, some ruins and a marshland which looked like something out of a dark fairytale! So many beautiful views that seemed as if taken out of a storybook. About half of the way into the trail, the clouds darkened and the temperature dropped even lower. Before I knew it, the snow started falling gently from the sky.
It was amazing to see the scenery transform so much, everything had a blue hue. The lake started freezing up and all the ducks and swans snuggled their heads in the feathers, to avoid the cold air. I wrapped my face in a scarf to prevent my cold nose from falling off.
After reaching the top of the lake, I suddenly was feeling like such a wimp. I was wrapped up like an Eskimo- while there were men, in nothing but speedos, that were jumping into the freezing lake. They all looked so not bothered by the cold, until the last of them jumped in, then emerged from the waters screaming ‘’MY BALLS. I lost my balls! I’m looking for them! I think THEY FELL OFF’’. I can sympathize. hehe
‘Green Manor’ Orphanage
Then it was time to get into the car, drink some coffee from the flask and move onto the next adventure. Hidden away in another location, also in the forest, is the ‘’Green Manor’’ Orphanage. Operating up until a few years ago, this magnificent building now sits abandoned, awaiting its last hopes of finding someone willing to put it under restoration to save it.
When I was a kid I’ve heard some stories about this place but never explored or seen it in person. The forest was cold and un-inviting that day. I managed to squeeze through the entrance un-noticed, then began walking up the overgrown path.
The sheer size of the property was impressive. After the war, the buildings got refurbished, maintaining their charm and structure throughout the years.
The orphanage was constructed in 1851 and run by Deaconess sisters as a children’s hospital. Later expanded to Sanatorium Bismarckhöhe for adults and children with chronic illnesses. It served many purposes over the years to help those in need, but eventually became an orphanage for children and new-borns. Back then called – Diakonissen Mutterhaus Kinderheil.
The great grounds of the place were utilized for farming lands, where vegetables were grown, and also where the animals would be kept. In its prime, it had 360 deaconess sisters, 15 doctors, a pastor, 2 masters in baking and also about 100 other people for ancillary work-employed. It shut down after the war for a number of years and the organization moved in 1945 to Bad Harzburg in Germany where it stands till this day.
Reason for closing down
In 1954, the Polish decided to re-open the property, for children orphaned by war. Szczecin got heavily bombed after the war but the buildings miraculously survived. The orphanage re-opened giving a home to children and new-borns in need. The establishment was expanding trying to live up to its previous glory, self-sustained by farming vegetables and owning animals such as donkeys. However, the orphanage started to experience difficulties throughout the years with a number of problems and accidents that have taken place there.
For example, in the year 1996 the place caught on fire, burning almost the whole roof of the main building. There are rumours of intentional arson, but I couldn’t find any reliable source to confirm that. Thankfully, no one got hurt but the damage caused took a few years to repair.
A number of rumours about this place circulated over the years. Some breaking the surface and ending up in the news. Such as a 13 year old girl attempting suicide after being beating up by her peers. An 8 year old boy jumped from the window and died. Alleged relations between a carer and a teen, followed by more suicide attempts. But there are no sources to confirm that. The rumours and news caused the reputation of the orphanage to drop, with the decision made eventually, to shut the place down. Children re-located to foster families and the orphanage shut down. It’s now awaiting a decision that will determine its fate.
Knowing some of its history, walking around felt surreal, the whole scene felt as if it was taken out of the horror movie. The decaying scenery, remains of old toys laying around…
With all the space, playgrounds and nature surrounding the place, one would think it was like heaven for a child. So much room to play. Unfortunately, this place is quite popular for people with drug and alcohol problems. So locals are really weary about it, never getting too close.
There are loads of hidden wells underneath the overgrown grass, which could be easily fallen into if not careful. I was cautious of the dangers, and urge anyone exploring abandoned places to be smart and research them before visiting and also be very careful. Always try to go with the company!
Despite its abandoned and somehow haunting state, this place is utterly beautiful. I was in awe because of its architecture. It almost looked like an abandoned magic castle. I was going around the different buildings of the orphanage and various bunker entrances until it was time to leave, for safety reasons.
The mystery and dark atmosphere was present throughout this exploring trip. It is really hard to explain how I felt. There was an aspect of beauty to it, but knowing the dark elements made it seem almost haunted. I hope someone will be willing to restore this building back to its previous glory, before there’s nothing left of it.
After this thrill of adventure, I went home to relax with some freshly brewed coffee, reading books and warming up the fireplace.
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See you again,