A settlement has existed on the site of the town for well over 1000 years, and the area around and including Stargard has always played a vital role in Pomerania.
A significant, defended settlement was already in existence by the 8th century, in what is now the district of Osetno. In the 9th century, on an island in a tributary of the river Ina, a wooden fortified settlement with a suburbium nearby gradually took shape, along with a river port. This gord (a typical Slavic settlement) was known in ancient Pomeranian as Stari Gard and became the manor town, and in the 12th and 13th centuries was the capital of the extensive Stargard Castellany. Independently of the gord, a market settlement grew up along the Szczecin Road. The excellent defensive conditions, fertile soil and position along major trading routes all led to the rapid development of Stargard. In the first half of the 13th century, there was already a mint, and two monasteries were set up by ducal order, while the Magdeburg and Lübeck Investment Acts of 1243 (1253) and 1292 gave Stargard its own local government, land ownership and important trading privileges. From 1295, the much-increased territory of the town, with a delimited square and network of streets, was surrounded by walls, and in the 14th century, Stargard, wealthy through its maritime trade, crafts, customs duties and surrounding lands (which measured over 1000 lans – each lan being approximately 25 hectares – and 15 villages) became a member of the Hanseatic League. In the 15th century, the town became an independent city, becoming one of the 18 most influential centres around the shores of the Baltic. It was at this time that construction work started on the buildings which to this day arouse admiration. The town’s prosperity was ended by the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, along with a Great Fire in 1635 and epidemics, although Stargard, as the largest city in the region, did become the capital of Brandenburg Pomerania between the years 1658 – 1721, and thus started a period of rebuilding. National parliaments were convened in the city, and three printing works, the royal court (until 1739) and a university were in operation. In the 18th century, a postal service started in Stargard, along with the first small factories, a second Pomeranian garrison was stationed in the town, the first theatre opened and a newspaper was published. The local economy was strengthened by the French and Jewish communities, which were the largest in Pomerania. From the second half of the 19th century, Stargard’s dynamic development brought in the railway, which in itself contributed to further development, making Stargard an important transport link and industrial centre. Numerous newspapers were printed in the town, and at the beginning of the 20th century, a publishing house was opened. By now, the city limits were well outside the original walls, and contained the municipal buildings and residential areas. In 1901, Stargard, with its population of 27,000, became a county town, and continued to expand to reach 40,000 inhabitants by the beginning of the Second World War.
In 1945, over 50% of the buildings lay in ruins, while those of the Old Town were almost completely destroyed. Raising Stargard from the dead became the difficult task of Polish settlers, but by the 1960s, the population was once again what it had been in 1939, and in the post-war period up to the start of the 21st century, ten residential estates were built, and the town centre and suburbs were completely rebuilt, with the result that in 2007 approximately 70,000 people were resident in Stargard, once again a centre for culture and education. Following the economic difficulties of the 1990s, new industries have been attracted to the town, and, following extensive renovations, the wonderful old buildings have once again become a magnet for tourists. These buildings, whose creators, with their soaring Gothic spires invoked Stargard’s power, will impress even the most exacting of visitors.