From the stellplatz we were less than half a mile from the old town of Wismar.
Wismar has had a chequered history. It was one of the first towns in the Hanseatic League due to its deep and protected port. During the 13th and 14th centuries it was a flourishing town, with important woollen factories. The town was snatched by the Swedes in 1648 and became the southern administrative centre of Sweden for this area of their empire. In 1803 Sweden pledged both town and lordship to Mecklenburg for 1,258,000 Riksdaler, reserving, however, the right of redemption after 100 years. In 1903 Sweden finally renounced its claims on the town.
By the turn of the 20th century Wismar was a major port and industrial area so during World War II it was heavily bombed which destroyed two of the three medieval churches. However since German reunification serious renovation work has been undertaken on the old town culminating in UNESCO World Heritage status.
Walking through the town it has a feel of somewhere in between a German and eastern European town. The market place is huge with its Wasserkunst, a Dutch Renaissance pavilion for the town’s water supply in the middle. Surrounding the square were a mixture of buildings from a late Gothic Hanseatic with a rather splendid “Swedish Head”, the neoclassical Rathaus, half timbered buildings and the occasional eastern bloc concrete horror.
Dominating the town are the church towers. The restored square tower of the St Mary’s church is the most striking surrounded by an outline in brick of the remains of the church. It suffered heavy damage in World War II, and was deliberately destroyed in 1960 under the East German Communist government. The tower has now been converted into an exhibition including a film on the church building techniques used to build the medieval Hanseatic churches which was fascinating.
Heading away from the church towards the next church we passed the Furstenhof which was the seat of the Mecklenburg dukes and had a rather quirky take on the Italian Renaissance style and looked a little out of place in the brick dominated area.
The second church of St George has been completely rebuilt and now an exhibition space and concert hall. With its almost bare interior it provides a real feeling about how big these churches were and the skill of the craftsmen who built them. At St George there was a lift up to a viewing platform for a panorama of Wismar and the port.
Finally there was the old harbour area to explore though we had seen better. There were a number of old warehouses ripe for renovation. A future project we presume.