Stargard Szczecinski is one of the oldest cities in West Pomerania. The beginning of the history of Stargard dates back to the eighth and ninth century, when a settlement called Osetno developed about 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) from today's city centre. The settlers of Osetno contributed to the construction of a fort on a turn of the Ina River near the existing White Head Tower. The early inhabitants built defensive embankments of wood and earth around their fort, which was additionally protected by the Ina River in the east and in the north. During the next few centuries, namely from the tenth to the thirteenth century, an open town developed south of the fortified area. The location of the fort and town, just at the crossing point of the trade routes from Sanok to Volin and from Szczecin to Kolobrzeg, had a very favourable impact on the development of the whole settlement, which began to develop even more rapidly after being granted Magdeburg city rights in 1243 or in 1253 by Pomeranian Prince Barnim I. In 1292, Stargard's city laws were replaced with Lubeck laws, which were more favourable for merchants and craftsmen. Two religious orders, namely the Knights of St John of Jerusalem and the Augustinian Order, were established in the city, numerous new settlers came from Germany and Flanders and Stargard joined the Hanse, i.e. a medieval league of free towns which promoted and protected their economic interests.
At the end of the thirteenth century, the defensive embankments around the old fort were demolished to enable the construction of stone and brick walls around both the old fort and its neighbouring town. The Ina River became an important transport route along which grain and other goods from the Stargard and Pyrzyce area were carried on barges to Western and Baltic lands. In 1648, under the Peace Treaties of Westphalia, Stargard became subject to Brandenburg rule. Nine years later, in 1657, the Polish cavalry led by Stefan Czarniecki, the commander in chief, went through Stargard in pursuit of the withdrawing Swedish army. The end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century are a period of slow reconstruction of the destroyed city. The redevelopment of the Stargard was very difficult due to continuous movement of Swedish, Russian and Prussian troops. The middle of the nineteenth century was the turning point in the city's economic development. A railway line from Stargard to Szczecin and Berlin was opened in 1846 and other railway lines, connecting Stargard with Poznan and Koszalin, were built a little later. World War II is a separate chapter in the history of Stargard Szczecinski. The city's whole production and industrial capacity was switched to war purposes. In addition, a large camp, namely Stalag II D, for prisoners of war from Poland and, after some time, also from other countries of the anti-German and anti-Italian coalition was built already in 1939. The military operations during the war destroyed 72% of the city, including its historical part (the Old City), which was destroyed completely.