The Baltic Sea spa resort Zingst with its 3,200 inhabitants is the easternmost community on the 45 km-long Fischland-Darss-Zingst peninsula. The resort town Zingst is an enclave within the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park.
The remains of the Slavic stronghold Hertesburg provide evidence of early human settlement in the region. As of 1292 Zingst belonged to the Principality of Ruegen, at the conclusion of Thirty Years‘ War in 1648 the Swedish crown took over control, and in 1815 Zingst came under Prussian rule.
Historically fishing and maritime activities have dominated in Zingst. The town‘s location was ideal for shipping wood and grains. During the „golden era“ in the 18th and 19th centuries, many of Zingst‘s men were officers and crew on ships sailing the Baltic and North Seas, the Mediterranean and even the vast oceans. The shipyard in Zingst built ships up to 40 m long. The rise of steamships brought an abrupt end to this era.
Furthermore, many Scandinavian trading partners were lost when Otto von Bismarck declared a protectionist tariff on grains in 1879. At the end of the 19th century, shuttle traffic to the harbours in Rostock, Stettin, Stralsund and Barth moderately increased Zingst‘s shipping activity. However, by this point most of the seafarers had emigrated and the population was in decline.
In 1881 the Bade-Comité was founded in Zingst. The initiators were the innkeeper Christian Rammin and the captain Rudolf Parow. Separate bathing areas along the beach were designated for ladies and gentlemen, and the first beachside restaurant was built. The committee founders also offered bathing opportunities in bathtubs of warm and cold water in the building across from the Kurhaus that now houses the Kur- und Tourismus GmbH. The municipal administration eventually took over ownership of the enterprise and opened a family swimming facility in 1913.
A new railway line connecting Zingst with Prerow resulted in a boom in tourism that continued until the beginning of WWI. After the war, swimming at the beach was no longer segregated, wicker beach chairs (strandkorb) became popular and building sand castles was a craze. In 1937, Zingst was designated an army garrison and KdF spa (Kraft durch Freude; German for strength through joy; a state-operated leisure organisation in Nazi Germany). During WWII there was no tourism. An anti-aircraft training unit was based in Zingst with a shooting range on the Sundischen Wiesen, an emergency landing strip and a bombing range. After the war, the NVA (Nationale Volksarmee; National People‘s Army of the GDR) again used the northern part of the Sundische Wiesen as a shooting range. This use continued until German Reunification. In the 1990s, the new Zingst planning commission set its focus upon tourism, designated part of the ex-military area as a campsite, and welcomed the founding of the Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park.
After WWII many refugees sought shelter in Zingst.
The post-war communist government directed the Free German Trade Union Federation (FDGB; Freie Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund) to take control of many tourism-related activities. None-the-less, even the majority of FDGB tourists stayed in private accommodations.
A new Kurhaus (the centre of all spa-related activities) was opened in 1948 at the main beach access. Zingst received the official designation as state-approved spa resort in 1979. In 1991, the facilities of the FDGB and the army were shut down. In 1992, Zingst was one of the few seaside resorts in the new German states to be awarded a Blue Flag certification for excellent water and environmental quality standards. A new pier (Seebrücke Zingst) at the main beach access across from the Kurhaus was opened in 1993. The Mutter-Kind-Kurklinik (mother-child clinic) as opened in 1994 followed by the privately-owned Kurmittelcentrum cure clinic in 1996, with a saltwater pipeline directly from the Baltic Sea (completed 1997). The old Kurhaus building was demolished in 1998, rebuilt, and reopened in 2000. In 2002, Zingst received the title „Ostseeheilbad“ (state-approved Baltic Sea spa resort). Since 2008, Zingst has become increasingly well-known throughout Germany for its environmental photo festival »horizonte zingst«. In 2015, Zingst reported 270,000 visitors and 1,700,000 overnight stays as part of a decade-long increasing trend. In order to make Zingst a more attractive holiday destination all year round, the local tourism organisation has set its focus on sustainable development involving the themes nature, photography and health.
Fascinating stories await you in the Museum Zingst – have a look!