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The UNESCO World Heritage city on the Baltic Sea delights with its splendid old town center, one of the largest marketplaces in northern Germany and Scandinavian past.

At some point, every visitor to Wismar asks himself: Is this a historic city with World Heritage status that also boasts a cute harbor? Or is Wismar more of a maritime, cosmopolitan city by the sea that simply extends far inland? This time, the truth is not in the middle. For without its glorious past as a Hanseatic port city, the center of Wismar would certainly be far less magnificently developed today and not such a glamorous attraction for visitors from all over the country. It is the prosperity of bygone days, acquired on the water, that shines especially in the old town and makes Wismar's architecturally interested visitors sigh with joy again and again: Wonderfully restored gabled houses can be seen here in rows, three impressive churches in brick Gothic on top of that, and an "Old Swede" to boot. Not a flippant exclamation of delight in this case, but in fact the name for one of the sights that have made Wismar famous far beyond the borders of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and which, together with the nearby City StralsundThe city's history has earned it an honorary place on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

The marketplace: square, practical, beautiful

A few words more about the "Old Sweden" later. First, the center of the city of Wismar should be appreciated: The square market square in the center is not only counted among the largest market squares in Germany; with its Renaissance-style fountain from the 17th century, it is also one of the most beautiful. Together with the classicist town hall, which takes up almost the entire north side of the market square, the fountain is one of the city's most popular "Instagram" motifs. It is only closely followed by the churches of St. George, St. Nicholas and the tower of St. Mary's Church, which is the only evidence of the church having survived the Second World War.

The fact that Wismar belonged to Sweden from 1648 to 1803 can be seen in many places in the city. Aesthetically, it was not to its detriment. The 17th-century baroque busts of Hercules alone, now lined up in front of the Tree House in the Old Port, are perfectly suitable (and extremely popular) as a backdrop for a souvenir photo. When Wismar was part of the Swedish Kingdom, the city was considered one of the most formidable sea fortresses in Northern Europe, which is why the Hercules busts sat symbolically heavy on dolphins in the harbor entrance back then. But what is the "Old Sweden" all about? It is a Gothic building dating from 1380, which a citizen of Wismar opened as a restaurant in 1878 and christened "Alter Schwede". In 1989, the completely restored inn was reopened and, with its quaint interior, but also thanks to its magnificent facade, is one of the most popular and well-known houses (and meeting places) in the entire city.

Port city Wismar: sailing trips and herring days

On the water, too, Wismar offers museums with entertainment appeal. The cog "Wissemara", for example, is located at the Old Harbor and is a faithful replica of the so-called Poeler Kogger from the 14th century. This shipwreck was pulled out of the water off the island of Poel in 1997. Today you can sail as a passenger on the "Wissemara" if you enjoy cruising the Baltic Sea. If you prefer to look for culinary adventures at the Old Market instead, you will get your money's worth especially during the Easter season. This is when the traditional "Herring Days" take place, which - apart from the herring themselves, which are prepared and served there in raucous quantities - really please every visitor to the harbor. Last but not least, Wismar has also thought of short visitors with little time but a lot of interest. And has set up an educational trail with six stations along the so-called "Kuhweide" (cow pasture), which provides information in a condensed form about all the aspects that have made Wismar a World Heritage Site.

Cover image: ©TZ Wismar / Maignpix

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