In June 2002, Wismar, together with Stralsund were jointly declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Situated directly on the Baltic, there is a wealth of maritime history in this town, dating from Medieval times. Together with a rich culture, fabulous architecture in the old Merchant's houses and churches it is definitely worth a visit!
The plaque reads:
Here were, in 1427, in the craftsmen's rebellion under Klaus Jesup, the Burgermeister (Mayor) Johan Banzkow, and the Ratsherr (Councilor) Hinrik von Haren, beheaded.
If anyone can help with a better translation please let me know!
Wismar is another ancient Hanseatic town situated on the Baltic and full of old gabled merchants houses. It was relaxing to wander around the quiet cobbled streets and harbour after dinner and soak up the history!
Whilst I was in Wismar I was moved enough to buy a brick for the restoration of St Marys Church in the city. The Church was damaged in the last year of the second world by allied bombing, and never re-built by the communist government. They now are re-build some of the church...
The huge church is even more impressive from inside. The central nave is 37 m high and one of the highest in Germany. This structure is completely built from bricks.
Nikolai hosts several art works that belong to the two other, destroyed churches, Marienkirche and Georgenkirche. Unlike those the building is intact and fully functional as a church, so it gets less attention, but St Nikolai is in urgent need of restoration, too.
The church is open in the daytime. Donations for the restoration are welcome.
More pictures of the architecture and art works in the travelogue page
The renaissance building in the southwestern corner of market square was the centre of old Wismar’s supply of drinking water. It was built by a Dutch architect between 1580 and 1602. Water pipes lead from here to the public fountains in the streets and into the ‘better’ houses. The inscriptions in Latin and German tell about the water system in former times.
The Church of Our Lady used to be the main parish church of the city. The nave must have been even bigger and more impressive then the still standing church of St Nikolai. Allied bomb raids in April 1945, a few weeks before the end of the war, hit the church heavily. The ruin could have been saved and rebuilt but this was not wanted. Like other churches in the DDR, the ruin was blown up for political reasons in August 1960. Only the steeple remained as a torso. The foundation of the walls and pillars give an impression how large the church used to be.
The people of Wismar dream of rebuilding Marienkirche. The surrounding walls and pillars have already been rebuilt up to a height of about 1 metre. If you want to help to make the impossible come true, you can support the project by donating a brick. For 10 € you receive a certificate and a brick which you can sign with the date and your name or whatever you want to write on it. These bricks will be used for building so your signature will remain in the church wall forever.
I donated one in the name of my little Australian travel companion…
An exhibition in and around the steeple shows more about the history of Marienkirche, a model of what it looked like, historical building machinery and a brickmaker’s workshop.
The two poles in the harbour that held the ‘tree’ which closed the basin at night were decorated with two wooden heads. They resemble figures on old ships and are supposed to depict Hercules wearing the lion fur on his head – although these are VERY folkloristic images… They have become a popular symbol in Wismar.
The original heads can be admired in the museum Schabbellhaus. Copies have been put up beside the portal of the Baumhaus in the harbour. New copies can also be found far out in the bay by the shipping lane into the harbour. Some pubs in town, including Alter Schwede, present copies of one or both heads.
She adds a lot to the harbour’s flair: the reconstructed Hansekogge “Wismaria”. This is what the sailing ships looked like that the Hansa’s wealth was based upon. These ships transported the merchants’ goods on the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Imagine dozens of them in the old port basin in front of Wismar’s skyline with the three mighty gothic churches…
A club of fans is maintaining the ship and doing day cruises out into the bay of Wismar and the Baltic Sea for passengers. In the harbour in the evenings while the crew is still on board there is “open ship” and you can board and look around for a small donation.
Since she is all black, taking photos of her is difficult…
Harbour cruises depart from the old harbour basin near the Baumhaus. They last about an hour. The harbour of Wismar is, I admit, not as impressive as, for example, the one in Hamburg. On the other hand, the cruise takes you out into the bay and you get an impression of the coastlines and the islands Poel and Walfisch outside the bay.
The best is the view of old Wismar from the sea side. Storage halls and cranes of the harbour frame the old town silhouette which has not changed much for centuries. The three huge churches still dominate the skyline just as they did from the middle ages, only that the nave of St Marien is missing.
The Wassertor is the only one left of originally five gate towers in the medieval fortification. The gate tower was erected around 1450. The inner side stills hows the late gothic brick gable while the outer side has been redesigned around 1600.
Wismar has one of the biggest market squares in northern Germany (10,000m2).. Located in the middle of the square is the Wasserkunst a medieval (1596) pumping station in the style of the Dutch Renaissance by a dutch chap....
Only one of the three brick gothic churches in Wismar is completely preserved and in full use. Nikolai church and the surrounding quarter have remained more or less unharmed during the war, unlike Marienkirche and Georgenkirche.
It is an impressive building already from its sheer size. The steeple used to end in a slender spire which collapsed in a gale in 1703 and damaged the church badly. The building was repaired and the furnishing renewed in baroque style. The gables and portals present elaborate ornaments made of glazed bricks.
After one wing of the medieval town hall had collapsed, the present building was erected in neoclassical style in 1817-1819. Remains of the medieval building, especially the cellars, were integrated in the new one.
The gothic vaulted cellars contain the permanent exhibition “Wismar – Pictures of a City” about the history of the city. Opening hours: daily 10:00-18:00 (from January to March it closes at 16:00 on Sundays).