The landmark of the city is the Schwerin Castle, located on an island in the lake of the same name (Schweriner See). It was, for centuries, the residence of the Dukes of Mecklenburg and today is the seat of the Landtag.
First reports of a castle on the location were made in 973. There was a fort of the Polabian Slav tribe of the Obotrites on an island in the large Lake of Schwerin.
Grand Duke Friedrich decided to rebuild the castle, and ordered his architect Georg Adolph Demmler to do so. Only some parts of the building from the 16th and 17th century were kept.
Dresden architect Gottfried Semper and Berlin architect Friedrich August Stüler could not convince the grand duke of their plans. Instead, Demmler included elements of both of them into his plan, but would find inspiration in French Renaissance castles. It became the most admired master work of the student of Karl Friedrich Schinkel.
Renaissance châteaux of the Loire valley such as Chambord also inspired him and contributed to the construction from 1843 until 1851.
His successor Stüler, again, changed a few things, and included a statue of Niklot on horseback, and the pompous cupola.
We can see the Statue of the Obotrite Prince Niklot in Schwerin Castle (sculptor, Christian Genschow) in the main niche of the castle.
Niklot (1090–1160) was a pagan chief or prince of the Slavic Obotrites and an ancestor of the House of Mecklenburg. For nearly 30 years he resisted Saxon princes, especially Henry the Lion during the Wendish Crusade. He also opposed the conversion of the pagan Polabian Slavs to Roman Catholic Christianity.
Schwerin Cathedral (Schweriner Dom) was formerly a Roman Catholic cathedral as old as the city itself, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint John.
The first cathedral was built of timber. The foundation stone of the stone cathedral of the Prince-Bishopric of Schwerin was laid in 1172.
During the 14th century the nave and transept were completed, as well as the chapter buildings. At the end of the 15th century the cloister on the north side was finished.
The tower is 117 meters high. It was constructed between 1889 and 1893.
The monument to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 is located at the square in front of the Schwerin Castle. Architect Hermann Willebrand (1874).
Among the most interesting places: the Alter Garten (Old Garden) square, surrounded by buildings such as the 18th-century Altes Palais (Old Palace), the neoclassical Staatliches Museum Schwerin (State Art Museum), built in 1877–1882, and the Staatstheater (City Theater), erected in 1886.
You can watch my 3 min 05 sec about Schwerin Video Schwerin out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Pfaffenteich is an artificial, rectangular lake between the train station and the old town. The lake is surrounded by linden alleys and elegant 19th century buildings. A ferry, nicknamed "Pfaffenteich cruiser", does the round on the lake. You can board and disembark at five different landings.
To be honest, the lake is tiny and one could easily walk around it instead of waiting for the ferry to cross it. On the other hand the little boat is so cute in its uselessness that it is fun to do the mini cruise. The captain looks like a real Seebär with white beard and uniform.
Fare: adults 1 €, kids 0.50 €
Operating hours: 10.00-14.00 and 14.30-18.00. No fixed timetable, the ferry will come when someone is standing on the landing. It ran for me alone, in fact...
Schlachtermarkt , butchers' market, is the name of the smaller market square behind the old town hall. It now has a little food and knickknack market. A passageway through the old town hall connects it with the main market square.
The fountain in the square, 1980 by Stephan Horota, depicts a famous Mecklenburg folk song: "Herrn Pastor sien Kauh" (Mr. Parson's Cow). It tells in a humoristic way how the cow has died and everybody in town gets a piece. More about the song and the funny pictures of the fountain in this travelogue!
Two rather new monuments recall Duke Heinrich der Löwe (Henry the Lion) of Saxony, the founder of the town. Both were erected in 1995to honour the 800th anniversary of his death.
Next to the steeple of the Dom a copy of the medieval lion monument in Heinrich’s residence Braunschweig has been put up.
The monument by Peter Lenk in market square also presents a statue of a lion on top of a high pedestal. The relief on its four sides show Heinrich’s deeds. However, they do paint neither a friendly nor a heroic image. Heinrich is depicted slaying the men in battle and riding along a row of women lining up to be copulated.
The market square between Dom and town hall is the heart of the old town.
The so-called “New Building” in front of the choir of the Dom, built in 1783-1785, originally served as a market hall. The white neoclassical building now hosts a café and restaurant.
The medieval old town hall in market square was described as „looking like a barn“ in the 19th century and did not seem suitable for the residential town of a Grandduke. The magistrate hired court architect Demmler to design a more representative façade.
Demmler selected the English Tudor gothic, just like for the arsenal on Pfaffenteich, to give the building a more representative face. The façade hides the much older building – its back front in Schlachtermarkt gives an idea of its former shape.
A passageway underneath the town hall connects Markt and Schlachtermarkt.
The building in the style of a neoclassical villa had first been designed as a palais for the Dukes in 1877 but then dedicated to the Ducal art collection. It is now part of Staatliches Museum Schwerin and hosts the largest art gallery in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Sorry to admit that I did not have enough time to enter, the collection seems remarkable.
Location: Werderstraße/Alter Garten, opposite the palace island
If you are interested in baroque art, check out the museum website.
The monument in the park in front of the Schloss was erected in 1874 to recall Germany’s victory over France in the war of 1870/71 which lead to the foundation of the second Empire. The sculptor Hermann Willebrand designed it after ancient Roman models.
Schwerin's most famous and most romantic sight: the palace on an island among the lakes. Bridges connect it to the government quarter and town centre and to the historical gardens(part of Bundesgartenschau in 2009) on the opposite side of the lake. The fairy-tale style of the facades derives from 19th century historism and hides a building that has grown over centuries. Five wings form an irregular pentagon around the central courtyard.
The palace museum can be entered from the southwestern wing next to the bridge to the gardens. It shows some historical rooms in the former residence of the Granddukes of Mecklenburg and art collections. Unfortunately I did not have time to see the museum, which I regretted a lot. So please check the website linked below for more information.
The parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern occupies another large part of the palace which is not open to the public.
The prettiest part of the gardens on the island is the Orangeriegarden by Peter Joseph Lenné on the eastern side. The architect turned parts of the old and now unused fortifications into an orangerie and colonnades around a central parterre.
The chapel on the eastern corner of the palace was built in the 1560s and belongs to those early protestant chapels built shortly after the introduction of the reformation - as such it will be interesting to art historians. All the others will enjoy the general appearance of the church room underneath the golden stars on the blue vault.
The neogothic choir was added in the 19th century.
For sure this church is popular for weddings. It is hard to imagine a more romantic location than this one.
The parish is keeping the chapel open in the daytime, it can be entered from outside the palace next to the neogothic choir. However, this seems to be a special in 2009 due to the Bundesgartenschau. We will have to wait and see, and check out, how they are going to deal with opening hours after the end of the garden exhibition in autumn 2009.
The large orange-coloured, castle-like building at the southwestern corner of Pfaffenteich was built as arsenal for the grandducal arms in 1840-1844. Court architect Georg Adolph Demmler designed it in the style of English Tudor gothic. Today it hosts offices of civil authorities.
Schloßstraße, the street that connects the town centre and the palace, is the seat of the government - once of the Grandducate of Mecklenburg, now of the Federal State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The big neoclassical buildings along Schloßstraße host the Staatskanzlei i.e. the seat of the Prime Minister, and several ministries. The Landtag, the parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, occupies a part of the palace.