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Wismar City Guide

A Walk in Medieval Times

by André Gayot

Wismar's beautiful merchant houses on the Marktplatz
Wismar's beautiful merchant houses on the Marktplatz with its cool Wasserkunst monument, which transformed the former well

On the shores of the Mecklenburg Bay, Wismar was one of the first towns to be founded in Mecklenburg in the early 13th century, forging an alliance with Lübeck and Rostock in 1259 to safeguard the trade routes on sea and land and to provide protection against pirates. Goods were imported and traded: wine from France and Spain, furs and timber from Russia, skins from Norway as well as fish, spices, wax, malt and salt. Wismar became rich. This wealth allowed the construction of the magnificent Gothic brick churches, the city walls and the beautiful “merchant” houses. On the Marktplatz (Market Place), the Wasserkunst (Water Art) transformed a simple well into an artistic monument. Gothic art brick is at its summit in Wismar with the spires of St. Nicholas' and St. Mary's that emerged from the war virtually intact. Clay was kneaded by hand into bricks and burnt in different manners to procure different colors. St. Georges, formerly in ruins, had to be rebuilt since 1990.
Wismar was occupied by the Swedes in the 17th century, which is evidenced in fun relics all over town Brick Gothic art is at its summit in Wismar's beautiful churches, St. Nicholas and St. Mary
Wismar was occupied by the Swedes in the 17th century, evidenced by fun relics all over town Brick Gothic art is at its summit in Wismar's beautiful churches, St. Nicholas and St. Mary

A walk in the streets around the largest market of North Germany, a place crowned by the impressive gables of the bourgeois residences, illustrates exactly the look of a medieval city. In the seventeenth century, the Swedes conquered Wismar, later won a 100-year lease and occupied it until 1903. Over time, the sea and seafaring have been the main “raison d’être” of Wismar. Today, the modern shipyard is the economic backbone of the city, and the updated Hanseatic port is a gateway to Scandinavia and Europe. Beer was also one of the riches of Wismar with 182 brewers producing ale and, especially, “Mumme,” a strong dark beer. You can taste it right from the 550 -year old microbrewery Brauhaus Am Lohberg at Kleine Hohe Strasse 15.

Both Wismar and Stralsund are UNESCO World Heritage sites. They represent the ideal Hanseatic city, as its layout centered on maritime commerce was determined by the “Law of Lübeck.” Wismar is the only remaining Hanseatic city of this size and state of conservation in the Baltic region.


Hotel New Orleans
Runde Grube
03 84 12 68 60
Forty rooms with modern décor across the old harbor in Wismar.

Reuterhaus Hotel
Am Markt 19
49 38 41 22 23 0
Just ten pretty rooms right on the market square, plus a historic restaurant serving Mecklenburg cuisine.

Steigenberger Hotel Stadt Hamburg
Am Markt 24
49 38 41 23 90
A cozy hotel located right on the market place.


Alter Schwede
Am Markt 20/22
49 38 41 28 35 52
Feast on Mecklenburg duck and Wismar fish in a super cool ambience featuring Gothic brick.

Brauhaus am Lohberg
Kleine Hohe Strasse 15
03 84 12 50 23 8
Restaurant and brewery with three floors and live music every weekend.

Schiffbauerdamm 3
03 84 13 26 68 10
Serves fresh seafood, shrimps and smoked fish.


<< Previous | Next >>

Intro: East Germany, a Luminous Past and Thriving Present
Hamburg: Venice, German-Style
Lübeck: City of Steeples, Scribes and Marzipan
Wismar: A Walk in Medieval Times
Stralsund: Created by the Sea and for the Sea
Leipzig: Where the Fall of Communism Originated
Dresden: Devastation and Reconciliation

* All images by André Gayot

(Updated: 10/17/12 CT)

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