A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Family Holiday in Kühlungsborn


Around the turn from the 18th to the 19th century, doctors discovered how healthy a holiday at the sea is for both body and soul. The oldest seaside resort in Germany, Heiligendamm, was founded a few kms east of Kühlungsborn. Other villages by the sea wanted to participate in the boom but transporting visitors on horse-drawn carriages was a nuisance. Only after the railway line from Bad Doberan to Heiligendamm was extended further west, the villages on the coast became busy seaside resorts.


Kühlungsborn actually consists of three old villages: Brunshaupten and Arendsee on the coast and Fulgen further inland. In 1938 they were united and named Kühlungsborn. Brunshaupten became Kühlungsborn-Ost, Arendsee became Kühlungsborn-West.

The new town got its name after the Kühlung, a nearby chain of hills a chain of hills located a few kms inland. This is a popular area for hiking with beech forests and viewpoints. The highest 'peak' reaches a height of some 130 m above sea level.


Kühlungsborn still has two centres. Strandstraße is the main street of Kühlungsborn-Ost. Here is where the souvenir, clothes and beach stuff shops are, and also several restaurants and cafes. Kühlungsborn-West has its busiest area around Kolonnaden and Hermannstraße.

The two village centres are connected by a long beach promenade and a street along which many hotels and guesthouses established. Many of them sport the so-called „Bäderarchitektur“ which is so typical for the seaside resorts on the coast of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.


Dedicated to Omi
On the way to the post office, she kindly transports
the pack with my laundry on her walker...

Right behind there is the Stadtwald. Kühlungsborn’s green heart covers about one square kilometre. The town has grown around this piece of forest. The shady paved trails are popular for biking, walking, and all kinds of exercise. There are playgrounds, a rope climbing garden, sports fields and many other outdoor activities.

Grandma had invited my parents and myself for a one-week family holiday. Years earlier she had visited Kühlungsborn, still with now defunct Grandpa, and she had long wanted to return. Due to her walking difficulties – she had to use a walker – she needed assistance which she secured by inviting us.

We stayed at a fine hotel right on the beach promenade where we also had breakfast and dinner. Since our activity levels differed, they kindly gave me some time off for more sightseeing and for a day trip to Rostock. But we spent a lot of quality time together. Thank you Omi for the holiday!

Omi died in 2012, three years later, so writing this here involves quite some memories.

The Beach


Kühlungsborn is, first of all, a beach resort. The beach is several kilometres long, equipped with Strandkörbe for rent, very clean and suitable for children. You can but are not obliged to rent a Strandkorb (those German-style basket beach chairs).

However, everyone has to pay Kurtaxe - 2 € per day in high season, 1 € per day in low season. People who stay in Kühlungsborn pay the tax with their hotel bill. Day visitors have to pay a ticket when entering the beach. Yes, there are controls.

The beach is mostly sandy further up but rather pebbly along the water line. Walking along the water line is exhausting because the sand-pebble ground is soft. Out in the water, the ground is sandy again. This is an acceptable beach although not the best along the Baltic Sea coast.
Dogs are only allowed on those stretches that are marked as dog beaches („Hundestrand“). There are a few so your four-legged darling has the chance to swim and play in the water. Outside the dog beaches, however, it's humans only.


Swimming in the sea can of course be done. The Baltic Sea has no notable tides so you can swim any time. How pleasant it is depends on current weather conditions. The weather along the coast cannot be relied upon. Water (Wasser) and air (Luft) temperature, wind direction and strength are written on amall boards at all beach entrances every day. However, the figure 16 for water temperature seemed optimistic the first day. It felt much colder at first, but after a few minutes it was fine. The weather then improved and the water warmed to 18 °C, probably more the following, very hot weekend when I had already left. Water temperature in the Baltic Sea hardly exceeds 20 or 21 °C. I heard that at 20 °C the algae start blooming and there are all those little plant things swimming on the surface which are not dangerous at all but annoying. Warm currents also bring jellyfish in. In other words, light wind, sun and 18 °C water were perfect swimming conditions.

DLRG (Deutsche Lebensrettungsgesellschaft, German Life Savers’ Association) are keeping watch on the beach. At certain intervals you see their sheds with a lookout on top. When they are on duty the red and yellow flag is waving. In those areas you can swim without any worry. If weather conditions turn bad there will be signals: a plain yellow flag means swimming is dangerous, a red flag means no swimming at all.



Families: The beach is a bit pebbly close to the water line but in the water the ground is sandy and smooth. The water stays knee to thigh deep for several metres but there is a 'step' in first. Kids can bathe safely as long as wind and waves are not too strong. Babies and toddlers best splash around in the puddles on the beach.


Visitors with walking difficulties and even visitors in wheelchairs have possibilities to enjoy the beach and swim in the sea. There are two beach accesses suitable for handicapped guests, one near the marina and the other one at beach entrance 8 next to Konzertgarten Kühlungsborn-Ost, the one we used because of Grandma and her walking difficulties.

A ramp leads from the parking lot down to the beach promenade. Entrance 8 has a wooden boardwalk that leads to a row of Strandkörbe and further down the beach to the water. At the end of the boardwalk some steps lead into the water, wheelchair users will need an assistant to help them into the sea.


Jellyfish appear at the beaches frequently. In German they are named Quallen - doesn’t that sound like a lovely glibbery handful of jelly? It is startling to be touched by something glibbery in the water but most of them are completely harmless. As long as the four rings are white, pink, blue or dark violet there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes you’ll see kids throwing them at each other for fun. Watch its elegant movements if you meet one in shallow water. There is, however, a bright red or orange variety called Feuerqualle (fire jellyfish) which ought to be avoided because they burn. These are rare but in case you spot one, stay away. They won’t kill you but they give painful burns which take some days to heal.

Rent a Strandkorb



Strandkörbe are a typical German beach item. The first one was created by a basket-maker in Rostock in the 19th century.

On the beaches of Baltic Sea and North Sea the weather is not always reliable. The wind can be unpleasantly chilly even if the sun is shining brightly.

The basket can be turned into the optimal direction to protect you from the wind but let the sun in, or to shade you from the sun, just as you like. The back reclines and foot rests can be pulled out.

A Strandkorb usually seats two people. The front is closed with a wooden grid and locked with a padlock, so you can store your beach stuff inside overnight.

You can rent a Strandkorb per day or per week. There is a rental at about every entrance to the beach in the town area. You receive the key for the padlock, and at the end of your rental period you throw the key into a box at the rental.

Beach Promenade



Kühlungsborn’s beach promenade has a total length of about 4 kms. It leads along the dunes and the beach, is smoothly paved, wheelchair accessible, and clean enough to walk barefoot if you want. The promenade is for pedestrians only, cycling is not allowed.

Little thatched houses copying the regional farm house style have been built every few 100 metres. Some of these contain souvenir shops, some cafes, icecream or fast-food places, but each of them also holds free and well-maintained public toilets.



Each of the two beach suburbs, West and Ost, has a „concert garden“ with a stage and benches for the audience. About once or twice a week musical events take place in the late afternoon or early evening. Entrance is usually free.

Most of these are directed at a 60+ audience, though. The programme is on display on placards along the beach promenade and available at the tourist information, probably also at most hotels.


A ferris wheel is erected on the beach promenade in Kühlungsborn-West during the summer months. The views of the coastline, the town, the sea and the hinterland must be great - yours truly apologizes for being too scared of heights to ride this thing...


The bronze Sailor’s Wife is looking out for her husband’s ship from the beach promenade in Kühlungsborn-West, hoping for him to return to shore soon safe and sound. She represents the fate of the women in the villages and towns whose husbands (boyfriends, fathers, sons) are away for weeks and months at a time. The women have to cope with the struggles of daily life at home, take care of the children and everything, always in fear that a ship might sink and their men might never return.


Kühlungsborn’s Seesteg - the Jetty


A seaside resort on the Baltic Sea needs a Seesteg. Their main purpose is being a jetty where cruise boats can land. However, these jetties or piers are most popular as walkways from where people can enjoy the view of the sea and the coastline, and see the beach front of the town from a different angle.

Kühlungsborn used to have one since around 1900 but the old one had disappeared after the war and 40 years of socialism. Kühlungsborn-Ost’s pride and joy, the new Seesteg, has been opened in 1995. It has a total length of 240 metres.


Yachthafen Kühlungsborn-Ost and the New Quarter Around

In DDR times there used to be one big holiday accommodation in Kühlungsborn-Ost for the state police, and not much else in this area. In recent years new hotels, shops and restaurants have been built. Right now a big indoor swimming pool and spa is under construction, and next to it another huge hotel complex. In a few years this area will be much more crowded than it already is...


The modern catholic church has also been built in this quarter, completed and consecrated in 2000. Its architecture is supposed to resemble sails and the construction of a boat.

The new marina in Kühlungsborn-Ost has been established after the reunification, so everything is new and modern. The Baltic Sea is popular for sailing trips and the marina is open to short-term visitors.


Protestant Parish Church and Cemetery



The protestant church is by far the oldest building in the whole of Kühlungsborn. The nuns in a nearby convent founded the parish in the middle ages and had the first small church built from field stones. The church has been extended a couple of times in the run of the centuries. The furnishing of the interior is a mix of eras and styles. Together with the surrounding cemetery it is an off the beaten path sight that I recommend visiting.

The cemetery around the old protestant parish church has been in use for centuries.


Kühlungsborn’s deceased rest in a romantic spot underneath old trees. The narrow paths among old and new graves, hedges, wildflowers, shrubs and trees resemble more a maze than any regular layout. The main path in the middle is a shady alley, formed by old linden and birch trees. If you visit the church, don’t miss a stroll along the cemetery.

Location: in the far southwestern corner of Kühlungsborn on the edge of the town. South of Kühlungsborn-Mitte train station. About 25 minutes walk from the beach promenade in Kühlungsborn-Ost, more from Kühlungsborn-West. If you have a bike at hand, use it.

Tour Kühlungsborn with EMIL


EMIL, short for „Elektrisch Mobil Ins Land“, is a small electric bus that does tours of Kühlungsborn. It is a quiet and pollution-free way of transport. The vehicle seats max. 13 people, so if you prefer being in a small group this is better than the Bäderbahn. We were 6 and had lots of space. Since we had our grandma with us who was not that good at walking any more, so this was the perfect way of seeing more of the place with her.

Tours depart from the tourist information building in Ostseeallee every two hours and last about 90 minutes.


There is no need to prebook, you just P1040880.JPGshow up before departure and buy tickets from the driver. You get to see the whole town. You will be taken around Kühlungsborn Ost to the Marina, where you have some 20 minutes to walk around a bit, then via Mitte and south of the Stadtwald round Kühlungsborn West and back to where the tour started. The driver (whose name is not Emil;-)) gives explanations during the ride and can provide a lot of practical tips for your visit.

Sunset with Seagull

A Little Wombat's First Time by the Sea


Young Russell saw the sea for the very first time. This was an adventure for a little wombat!




First, the beach had to be explored. Then the water caught his attention.




This is scary! Run, Russell, run!

A quiet spot for relaxation and recovery was needed after this. Russell enjoyed our beach basket.


Posted by Kathrin_E 13:59 Archived in Germany Tagged beaches mecklenburg-vorpommern Comments (1)

Heiligendamm: The White Town by the Sea



Duke Friedrich Franz von Mecklenburg founded Heiligendamm as Germany’s first seaside resort in 1793. In those times the healthy effects of sea water and sea air were discovered and praised. The Mecklenburg court spent the summers in Bad Doberan. The distance to the beach in Heiligendamm was first covered by horse-drawn carriages, but these were too slow and not efficient enough for the increasing number of visitors.


In 1886 a train connection from Bad Doberan to Heiligendamm was established. At first the trains operated only during the summer months. Since the railway line has been extended westward to Brunshaupten and Arendsee, now Kühlungsborn, trains run all year round. You can still travel like people did 100 years ago on the Molli train, a narrow gauge steam railway. The historical early 20th century steam locomotives and train cars are still running. „The Molli“ is still the only train connection to Heiligendamm and Kühlungsborn.

Most buildings of Heiligendamm have been erected in the first half of the 19th century. The settlement has preserved its neoclassical appearance. Visiting Heiligendamm is worthwhile for people who are interested in history and architecture. Otherwise, there is not much to see and one hour is enough, to be honest.


The main buildings belong to the Grand Hotel and are well restored. ‘Ordinary people’ have no access to the premises of the Grand Hotel.

Rumours that the whole of Heiligendamm is fenced off are not true, though. You can walk the beach promenade, walk the pier, and use the beach east of the pier (Kurtaxe is to be paid).However, there are better beaches along Mecklenburg’s coast than this one.

Note the contrast...

While the Grand Hotel buildings are shining white and polished, the other villas are empty and in a miserable state. The investor does not care about them. Large parts of the „white town by the sea“ are not white but grey. You need some imagination to see how beautiful they used to be, and could be again.

Only one building has also been restored, it contains a restaurant and icecream parlour that cater for the type of visitors who do not stay at the Grand Hotel.

It. Is. A. Shame.


The villas in the forest look even worse than those along the beach promenade. The contrast is impossible to overlook.


The previous photos were taken in 2009. I revisited in 2014: The fence is new. Otherwise not much has happened in those five years.

Did I already say it is a shame?


The Grand Hotel


In the 1990s the buildings of Heiligendamm were sold to an investor who planned to turn them into a five star luxury hotel. They received a lot of financial support of the state, but they restored only the buildings for the Grand Hotel, the rest, the row of villas along the beach, has not been taken care of. In the meantime the first investor has given up and new owners are searched. The location is too remote, the beach too pebbly and the Baltic Sea weather too unreliable to attract enough of the Upper 10,000 to make the business a success. Let’s see…

The „Society, Dance and Dining House“ of 1816, now part of the Grand Hotel, is the most beautiful among Heiligendamm’s buildings. The facade presents the Latin inscription: „HEIC TE LAETITIA INVITAT POST BALNEA SANUM“ (Here joy is expecting you when you are healthy after the bath - or something like that, the Latin is a bit strange).

The premises of the Grand Hotel are for hotel guests only and taboo for 'ordinary' passers-by like yours truly. If you are interested in the hotel, check out their website.

Beach Promenade


The panorama of Heiligendamm, the white Grand Hotel buildings and the row of greyed neoclassical villas which could look just as beautiful if they were restored, is best to be seen from the beach promenade. This is also the closest you will get to the Grand Hotel (unless you can afford staying there).

The easternmost building closest to the promenade, which is white and restored unlike the other small villas, hosts a ‘normal’ restaurant and an ice-cream parlour. If you want a meal, a coffee, an ice-cream for a reasonable price this is about your only option in Heiligendamm.


Seesteg - Heiligendamm Pier



No Baltic Sea resort could be without a Seesteg, a jetty or pier. The pier is open to the public and accessible for free. It has a totel length of about 200 metres. From here the panoramic view of the coastline with the row of buildings is best.

It is also the arrival and departure point of MS Baltica, the ship that does the (not too frequent) ferry cruises along the coast between Warnemünde and Kühlungsborn.


The Beach


The beach in Heiligendamm is rather pebbly and definitely not the best beach along the Baltic Sea coast.

19th century bathers used wooden carts that were pulled out into the shallow water. People changed into their bathing clothes inside the carts and then went straight into the water, so the state of the beach was not very important to them.

To us nowadays, however, it is. Better go to Kühlungsborn or Warnemünde if you want to spend a day on the beach than to Heiligendamm.


Boardwalk and Steep Coast off Heiligendamm



The coastline west of Heiligendamm has steep sand bluffs and a forest on top of the cliff - a typical shape on the Baltic Sea coast. The granite boulders, the steep slope and the forest on top make this beach quite picturesque. This part is rather a beach for walking than for swimming because of the boulders in the water and because it has no security. Again further west a part of the beach is declared „Kinderstrand“,
beach for children (seems they do not want the noisy little monsters on the main beach next to the Grandhotel...)

Connection between the main beach and promenade and the steep coast is done, since there is no walkable beach on the stretch in between, by a boardwalk a few metres above the wather. To reach the boardwalk you'll nevertheless have to climb over a few rocks and step into the edge of the water. Best, take off your shoes and roll up your pant legs.



Posted by Kathrin_E 06:00 Archived in Germany Tagged beaches mecklenburg-vorpommern Comments (4)

Bad Doberan: A Brick Gothic Miracle and a Steam Train



According to legends Duke Heinrich Borwin I. of Mecklenburg had vowed the foundation of a monastery in the very spot where the first stag would be killed on the next hunting trip. While the hunting party were still discussing the suitability of the location, a swan flew by and called, „dobr, dobr“ - the Slavic word for „good“. Stag and swan are depicted in the town's crest. Sculptures of the swan, wearing a crown round his neck, can be seen in front of and inside the church.

In 1186 Cistercian monks founded the abbey, which is the core of today's town. Their church is one of the most remarkable examples of brick gothic on the Baltic Sea coast. Its pure, carefully restored architecture offers fascinating perspectives. It is hard to find the proper superlatives to describe it.


In the late 18th century Doberan became the summer residence of the Granddukes of Mecklenburg. A Ducal palace and other buildings to accommodate them and their escort were built and the settlement became a fashionable spa town. The palaces from that time are standing in a row along Alexandrinenplatz and August-Bebel-Straße. Prinzenpalais is nowadays a (upscale) hotel.

Many buildings in the town centre date from those times, including the Chinese pavillons in the park. The triangular park in the town centre, named Kamp, contains two pavillons in 'Chinese' style, built in 1808/09. The 'red' pavillon is now used for art exhibitions. The 'white' pavillon hosts a cafe.


Bad Doberan's second famous attraction is „the Molli“, a historical narrow gauge steam train that runs to the seaside resorts of Heiligendamm and Kühlungsborn. The Molli runs right through the streets of the town. The photo of the train in the rather narrow street is a must-have, all visitors will go „Molli spotting“ at some point to catch it.

The family went over to Bad Doberan for half a day by car, though. The train would have caused severe problems for Grandma.

Münster - the Abbey Church



If people say “brick gothic”, the first image that crosses their mind is this church. It is perhaps the purest preserved building in this style.

The monastery was founded in 1186 but the present church was begun more than a century later. It is all built of bricks and is one of the finest example of brick gothic architecture which is so typical for the Baltic Sea coast. The building corresponds with the rules of Cistercian architecture, i. e. no steeple and generally plain without too much decoration, but these rules were pushed to their borders. The church is impressive and was meant to be impressive.

The medieval furnishing of the church is well preserved and still more or less complete. Take your time to admire the art treasures. During my first visit, unfortunately the huge altar of the Holy Cross in the lay brothers' nave was in restauro and hidden behind scaffolding. But I got to see it when I returned five years later.


The abbey has always had strong connections with the ruling house, the Dukes and later Granddukes of Mecklenburg, who chose Doberan as their burial place. The chapels around the choir are filled with their tombs and monuments.


In 2014 I revisited Bad Doberan, and that second visit added an even more touching experience. During our choir’s tour in Mecklenburg we sang a concert inside the abbey church. Seeing this fascinating architecture is already something, but singing in there, under these vaults, hearing and feeling the acoustics… I have no words to really express what that meant to me.


A strange little tower, built from coloured bricks, is standing in the park behind the church. This is the medieval ossuary, where the bones of the defunct monks found their very last rest.

All other buildings of the convent are gone. The church is now standing alone in the middle of a park.

The ossuary, and what the abbey once looked like

Wisdom of a nobleman about good and evil


Wieck dübel wieck, wieck wiet van my,
ick scheer my nich een hoar üm dy.
Ick bün een mecklenbörgsch edelmann,
wat geit die, dübel, mien suupen an?
Ick suup mit mienen herrn jesu christ,
wenn du, dübel ewig dösten müst,
un drink mit öm soet kolleschaal,
wenn du sitzst in den höllenqual,
drum rahd’ ick: wieck, loop, rönn un gah
efft by dem dübel ick tau schlah.

Run devil run, run far from me,
I do not give a hair about you.
I am a mecklenburgish nobleman,
my drinking, devil, is none of your business!
I drink with my Lord Jesus Christ,
while you, devil, have to thirst forever,
and drink with him sweet „kolleschaal“
while you sit in the pains of hell.
So I advise: yield, run, race and go
before I beat you in the name of the devil.


This lovely inscription in Mecklenburg dialect can be found inside the Münster church in the small side chapel of the noble family von Bülow off the northern side nave. It is written above the entrance next to the picture of Heinrich (Henricus) von Bülow in a knight's armour.

Great motto, eh?

Here is someone who understood that you can be religious without giving up the pleasures of life because these were given by the Lord.

Anyway, I would like to know what exactly they were drinking - it is a local word and I cannot figure it out.

Molli Spotting



These are photos every visitor to Bad Doberan must have... The narrow gauge steam train to Heiligendamm and Kühlungsborn, nicknamed „Molli“, runs through a narrow street in the very heart of the town, rattling and steaming and ringing the bell - impossible to overhear.

The street where it passes through has surprisingly;-) been named Mollistraße.

There is one train coming in and one train going out every hour in the daytime.

For “Molli spotting, position yourself in Mollistraße around a quarter past for the incoming and around a quarter to the full hour for the outgoing train. I found the stairs of the hairdresser's shop on the street corner a very good photo spot.



For tourists, this is an attraction.

Locals, I assume, are not that happy about this noisy passer-by and the thick black, dirty and smelly smoke it emits. I would not want to have my laundry on the line nearby, or my window open.

I also would not want to sit outside the café with my ice-cream or cake when the train passes an armlength from my table.


Nostalgic Train Ride on the Molli


The Granddukes of Mecklenburg and their court spent their summers in Bad Doberan and in the seaside resort of Heiligendamm which is 6 kms away, as did more and more other guests. Travelling to Heiligendamm and back by carriage was cosidered a nuisance. So in 1886 a train connection was established. The railway line was extended to the seaside villages of Brunshaupten and Arendsee, now Kühlungsborn, in 1910.

The train got its cute name from a little dog who lived in a house by the railway tracks and used to bark his head off any time the train approached his home.

On board

The railway is a narrow gauge one with a track width of 90 cm. The historical early 20th century steam locomotives and train cars are still running.

„The Molli“ is still the only train connection to Heiligendamm and Kühlungsborn. I used it as means of transport to reach Kühlungsborn, coming from Wismar.

In Bad Doberan it connects to the ‚normal‘ DB trains. The Molli departs from the other side of the DB train station so you can easily change from 'normal' trains from Rostock and Wismar. Trains run once per hour in the daytime. They stops twice in town, too: at „Stadtmitte“ (Alexandrinenplatz) and „Goethestraße“.


Website: http://www.molli-bahn.de


In 1980 the DDR post issued a series of stamps that showed narrow-gauge trains. Here is the one about the Molli.

From Bad Doberan to Kühlungsborn

P1040681.JPG The locomotive

4532558-Nostalgic_Train_Ride_on_the_Molli.jpg Departure in Bad Doberan

4531750-On_Board_the_Molli_Bad_Doberan.jpg In town

4531755-On_Board_the_Molli_Bad_Doberan.jpg Along the road to Heiligendamm

4531756-On_Board_the_Molli_Bad_Doberan.jpg Countryside

4581195-Molli_Ostseebad_Heiligendamm.jpg Near Heiligendamm

4531754-On_Board_the_Molli_Bad_Doberan.jpg Heiligendamm station

754524184581176-Trains_in_bo..iligendamm.jpg Two trains meeting in Heiligendamm

575978024537456-The_Molli_ap..hlungsborn.jpg On the tracks

476712744537466-The_first_mo..hlungsborn.jpg The first morning train in Kühlungsborn

Posted by Kathrin_E 00:00 Archived in Germany Tagged churches trains mecklenburg-vorpommern Comments (0)

Rostock: Resurrection of Hanseatic Glory



Rostock’s reputation throughout DDR times, and afterwards, has never been the one of a top tourist destination, rather that of a port town with a glorious past but not much left of it. Reading through a Mecklenburg travel guide and some pages, tips and photos on VT made me notice, however, that there seemed to be more to the city than I thought. Out of sheer curiosity I decided upon a day trip to Rostock during my holiday on the Baltic Sea coast.

After one hour on the bus I arrived at the bus stop behind the train station, facing some renovated but still ugly concrete apartment houses. The map told me the old town was 2 kms away. All right, let’s walk. The morning promised a bright, sunny but hot summer’s day.

Arriving from the south I first reached the rose garden and the park along the town wall and ramparts. Parts of the old moat, deep below a former bulwark, are now a pond in the park. Through a small gate in the wall I got a glimpse of a gothic church and the buildings of a former monastery. However, I followed the path along the wall to Kröpeliner Tor, the oldest of the four preserved gate towers, all built of bricks and 54 m high.


Bricks are the favourite building material along the coast. The region has no stone quarries and not enough forests to provide enough timbers but large supplies of clay. In the middle ages the countries around the Baltic Sea developed their own version of the gothic style that could be built from bricks. This style became the typical style of the Hansa. The old towns in the federal state of Mecklenburg are full of brick gothic buildings. Rostock used to be one of the leading cities in the Hansa. Pride and wealth of the city show in the townhouses of well-off citizens, in the city hall and most of all in the main parish church, the Church of Our Lady (Marienkirche). In size and ornamentation it was supposed to match the main church of the big rival, Lübeck.




From Kröpeliner Tor it is a short walk through the pedestrian mall to University Square. Again, it’s time to pay respect to a glorious history: Rostock’s university, founded in 1419. It was the first university in the whole of Northern Europe, a centre of humanism that influenced Scandinavia and the Baltic states. In those times it was known as „the Light of the North“.

The main building in Universitätsplatz is, however, much younger. The renaissance style of the facade reminds us of the Ducal Palaces in Wismar and Schwerin but it is a 19th century ‘neo’ which was built in 1867-1870.

The building is open, at least on weekdays, and you can walk in but don’t ask if you may. The main staircase is worth a look and **whispers** there are free public toilets behind the foyer on the ground floor.




University Square is the liveliest spot in the city. University students and shoppers in Kröpeliner Straße mall pass and take a rest underneath the trees. The „Joy of Life“ fountain in the middle of the square attracts kids and adults.

Rostock’s most popular fountain in the middle of Universitätsplatz was created by two local sculptors, Jo Jastram and Reinhard Dietrich, in the 1980s. The sculptures show groups of humans and animals enjoying themselves in various ways.

Officially it is named the „Joy of Life Fountain“, inofficially it is also known as the „P0rn Fountain“...



The monument to General von Blücher underneath the trees in front of the old university has a funny history. In 1814 a newspaper in Hamburg reported the city of Rostock’s intention to install a monument dedicated to Gerhard Leberecht von Blücher, the Prussian general who had won the final battles against Napoleon. (Blücher was born in Rostock.) Blücher was flattered and wrote the most polite thank you letter to the magistrate of his hometown. Mayor and aldermen, however, went something like, „Errrrm.... waddya talkin’ ‘bout???“ In order not to lose their faces, they started collecting donations among the local nobility and in the end the monument was indeed put up in 1819. Gottfried Schadow, the famous neoclassical sculptor, created the statue. The verse on the pedestal was written by no one less than Goethe himself...

Kröpeliner Straße


Rostock’s main shopping street became the DDR’s first pedestrian mall already in the 1960s. The eastern part between Neuer Markt and Universitätsplatz has many renaissance and baroque houses. The oldest building is no. 82, the medieval parsonage of the hospital. Towards Universitätsplatz, the block on the left with the former hotel Rostocker Hof has been turned in an indoor shopping mall with some 40 shops and food places, good to grab a quick bite for a takeaway lunch. Beyond Universitätsplatz the street has mostly modern shop buildings with the usual chain stores.

Neuer Markt and Rostock City Hall



Proceeding along the pedestrianized Kröpeliner Straße, I reached the New Market Square.Neuer Markt is named „new“ because it was new in the late middle ages when three so far independent quarters united and built a common town hall. The square was surrounded by the beautiful houses of rich patricians before the war, only a few of them have survived along the western side. Behind them the main parish church, the impressive Marienkirche, overlooks the square.

A grocery and household knickknack market takes place in the square in the mornings (not sure if daily). The square is so wide, however, that this market occupies only one corner. Towards Marienkirche you’ll find some street cafes and restaurants.


A city hall was built in the 13th century after the three independent settlements (Altstadt, Mittelstadt, Neustadt) united and formed the city of Rostock. Rostock joined the Hanse and became one of the wealthiest and most powerful merchant cities around the Baltic Sea in the 14th and 15th century.


The old town hall is a medieval building. Its gothic façade is crowned by seven little spires. However, the 18th century was not much into medieval architecture. Mayor and city council decided to have their old-fashioned seat redecorated and a ‘modern’, that is: baroque, architecture attached to the front. The new baroque façade, painted pink and white, does not hide completely what is behind. Underneath the baroque arcades the medieval portals and some frescoes are visible. From the back, the town hall reveals more of its medieval origins.


The post office on the corner is a post-war building. An inscription underneath the porticus deserves to be classified as protected cultural heritage because of its original DDR language...

It tells that the old post office was destroyed by “Anglo-American bombs” and a new building has been erected by “the efforts of the working population”.

Nikolai and Petri Quarters – Old Rostock Restored



Rostock has been heavily hit by air raids in World War II, being an important sea port and the seat of aircraft industry. Large parts of the old town have been destroyed. The entire eastern third of the old town was neglected on purpose and left to decay in DDR times. The socialist regime had no interest in restoring the traces of a culture of “capitalist merchants”. This must have been one of the worst-looking old town quarters in the whole of East Germany after 40 years of socialism.


Since the reunification, however, things have changed. Now, more than 20 years after the reunification, most hsotorical houses that survived the war and four decades of neglect, and there are many, have been carefully restored. The gaps have been filled with matching modern houses.


The church of St Nikolai, which had also been heavily damaged in World War II, has been rebuilt as a centre for church activities. The attic above the nave has been turned into apartments. How does it feel to live in the roof of a gothic church? The view from the balconies must be amazing.^


Nowadays the quarters around the old parish churches of St Nikolai and St Petri may well be considered the most attractive parts of the city. Some brick gothic houses with their characteristic stepped gables still exist. Next to them we find the renaissance and baroque versions of the stepped gable theme.


The closer you get to the port, the more old storage buildings with cranes in their gables you’ll see. If you ever visit Rostock, do not miss the area behind the old town as most visitors seem to do, according to the emptiness and quietness of the streets. Zigzag through the cobblestone lanes; keep your eyes open and your camera ready. I had no idea what to expect when I came and this quarter was a big, big surprise.


Petrikirche - Church of St Peter


The medieval brick gothic basilica of St Peter, Rostock’s oldest parish church, was heavily damaged by World War II. In DDR times it was left in a miserable state. The rebuilding was only finished in 1994 with the addition of the tall pointed spire. The church is standing on a hill with a steep descent down to the river Warnow and looks most imposing when approaching the city from the east.

From the top floor of Petri steeple you can enjoy the view of the whole town and the river Warnow over to the harbour. There is no open platform but you look out through the window holes which are closed with wire. Photographers, look for the rectangular holes in some wire nets, there is one on each side of the steeple.

Entrance fee for the steeple was 2 €. If you feel like some exercise you can climb the stairs. However, you don’t have to. There is a modern lift which was installed a few years ago when the spire had been rebuilt. You can go up by lift without a single stair, the steeple is accessible for disabled visitors. The wooden platform inside the top is completely flat and wide enough to manoeuvre a wheelchair.

Views from St Peter's steeple

Harbour Promenade along the Warnow



The river bank by the old town, harbour area in former times, has been turned into a promenade. Some of the old storage buildings, like the one built in 1935 at the end of Grubenstraße, still serve their original purpose while others have been turned into a business, shopping and living complex. The marina has long-term rental spaces as well as space for overnight visitors. A bit further west the harbour cruise boats to Warnemünde depart.


The historical crane is a remake of 1997. It was rebuilt according to 18th century plans to recall Rostock’s history as a trade port of the Hansa. The crane is driven by two men in a pair of big running wheels: the rope rolls around the axis of the wheels and so the hook with the cargo is lifted. The rebuilt crane is fully functional. In 1999 a reconstructed Swedish sailing ship visited Rostock on her maiden voyage and was unloaded and loaded by the crane.

If you like smoked fish, follow the smell to the restaurant ship close to the crane with the oven in the bow.



From the landing of the harbour cruise boats I returned into the old town. The so-called Harbour Quarter mostly consists of DDR Plattenbauten, concrete buildings made from pre-fabricated pieces, like in all socialist cities. Here, however, the local style has been adopted and even the Plattenbauten have received a façade design in bricks and white plaster according to historical models.

Among them a few really old buildings have survived, half-timbered storage houses with cranes in their gables. One street, Wokrenterstraße, even has an entire row of old facades from medieval to baroque, restored of course.

Hausbaumhaus, and an old storage building

Wokrenterstraße, the street in the photo at the top, is the one street in the harbour quarter that has preserved, or better re-acquired, its pre-war appearance with a row of gabled houses.

This is what old Rostock must once have looked like.

The oldest among them is the so-called Hausbaumhaus, a brick gothic house dated around 1490, which still has its historical roof construction carried by one single long tree trunk.


Lange Straße: Hanseatic Version of Stalinism



On the way back into the city centre you pass the most remarkable example of hanseatic socialist architecture. Lange Straße, one of the main streets in the centre, has been renewed in the 1950s in Stalinist style. Both sides of the street are accompanied by huge blocks and towers with shops and apartments.

Compared to Stalinist architecture elsewhere, the Rostock example is particular. The facades are built of bricks, interchanging with white plaster. Ornamentation follows medieval patterns. This is an interesting case of the regional tradition influencing an international style.

Former Jakobikirchhof behind Lange Straße

A bit of medieval history can be found behind the blocks of Lange Straße. The church of St Jakobi (James) was destroyed in the war and never rebuilt. Instead there is an underground parking garage. The new little park on its roof marks the foundations of the church. Information boards tell about the history of the place.

Marienkirche – Rostock’s Main Church

Marienkirche seen from Neuer Markt

The main parish church of the city gives testimony of medieval Rostock’s wealth and power, based on long-distance overseas trade of the Hansa. Rostock’s rich merchants donated the money to build a church to equal the Marienkirche of the mighty rival Lübeck in size and beauty. Works started around 1230 and took more than two centuries. Just like in Lübeck and other Hansa Cities like Danzig, it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.


Inside, the most remarkable works of art are:

  • the bronze baptismal font, founded around 1290
  • the astronomical clock in the choir
  • the huge baroque organ in the west and the ‘box’ of the Grandduke underneath
  • the woodcarved altar of St Rochus of 1530 in the southern choir chapel
  • the baroque main altar
  • the 16th century pulpit with a rich ornamentation and reliefs depicting scenes from the life of Christ
  • the 18th century main altar
  • the exhibition of paraments in the northern side nave, especially the embroidered „wedding cloth“
  • the new exhibition on war and peace and resistance in the northern transept


Gate Towers, Town Walls and Ramparts of Old Rostock

Kröpeliner Tor and Kuhtor

Lagebuschturm and city wall

The old town fortifications are partly preserved along the southern and eastern edge. The most impressive parts can be found in the southwest between Kröpeliner Tor and Schwaansche Straße. Outside the town wall we still have the ramparts, now turned into a park, and further below a rest of the deep moat which once surrounded the city. The park along Wallstraße west of Steintor has been turned into a rose garden. The open field between the rows of trees is planted with thousands of roses - a pretty spot to relax in summer.

Kröpeliner Tor, the western gate tower of the old town on the street to Kröpelin, is the only of the four preserved gate towers that is preserved in its more or less original medieval shape. It was built in the 13th/14th century in brick gothic and has a height of 54 m.


Steintor, the gate tower on the southern side of the old town, used to be the main entrance of the old town. It received its present appearance in 1576/77 when the facades and roof were redesigned in renaissance style. Above the gate, the crests of the city (golden griffin on blue ground above a silver and white field) and the Duchy of Mecklenburg (black bull’s head) are shown - a small version on the outer side, a more elaborate and larger version on the inner side together with the Latin inscription, Sit intra te concordia et publica felicitas (may there be unity and public happiness inside you, i.e. the city).


East of Steintor a longer part of the city wall in more or less its original height, a fortification tower and another gate tower are preserved respective rebuilt. The tower, named Lagebuschturm, was built in 1577, the same time as the Steintor. The smaller Kuhtor further east was first mentioned in the 13th century and is the oldest remain of Rostock’s fortification.

Towards the bank of the river another town gate has remained. Mönchentor must have been redesigned around 1800, it shows purest neoclassical style.

I ran out of time and had to hurry back to the station after a quick coffee in the new market square. No idea how many kilometres I walked that day. But it was worth every single step. Rostock is worth a full day, and I recommend wearing your most comfortable shoes. Explore the streets off the beaten path. This city is full of surprises if you are ready to see them. It may not be the most spectacular Hanseatic town along the Baltic Sea. If you expect five-star sights and tourist infrastructure everywhere, better see Lübeck, Wismar, or Stralsund. If you are, on the other hand, interested in a treasure hunt, and into Germany’s recent history and seeing the changes after the reunification, Rostock may surprise you as much as it surprised me.


Posted by Kathrin_E 02:50 Archived in Germany Tagged mecklenburg-vorpommern Comments (0)



Haus der Kirche, where we stayed

In 2014 our choir went on a week-long concert tour in Mecklenburg. This could be arranged thanks to a choir member’s family ties to this area and into the protestant church of Mecklenburg (long story). Our base camp was Güstrow. The regional church has a house there which can accommodate large groups like ours. We sang three concerts in the Dom of Güstrow, in Waren an der Müritz, and in the amazing brick-gothic abbey church of Bad Doberan, which I have already described in a previous entry.


The trip took place during the 2014 Soccer World Cup, so guess how we spent our evenings after rehearsals and concerts were over…

Güstrow is a smallish city south of Rostock, on the edge of Mecklenburg’s lake district. While the busiest tourist areas are the Baltic Sea coast and the lakes, this inland area is rather quiet and off the beaten path.

I don’t think I saw any other tourists in town, apart from members of our large group, of course.

Güstrow’s old town is a mix of old and new, a mix of well renovated and various stages of decay.

Gothic, renaissance, baroque townhouses can be found in the streets.





Market square, empty in the evening

The market square is not an open square but forms a ring around the parish church and the town hall and some blocks of houses.


The neoclassical town hall, built around 1800, substituted a medieval predecessor.


The Church of Our Lady (Marienkirche) is the parish church of the city. It shows the typical brick architecture of this area – partly medieval, partly 19th century refurbishing.







Art enthusiasts, however, will know about Güstrow as the hometown of the expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlach. A collection of his works is on exhibit in Gertrudenkapelle, a small medieval chapel. Then there is his former studio on the lakeshore outside the town, and a modern museum next to it.

A few of Barlach's works in Gertrudenkapelle


One of Barlach’s most famous works has been put up above the baptismal font inside the Dom: the Hovering Angel. (Apologies for the lousy photo, it was quite dark inside.)



Güstrow’s Dom has, despite its name, never been a cathedral. It was built as a collegiate church in the 13th and 14th century. Nowadays it serves as Lutheran parish church just like Marienkirche.

This is the church where we sang our concert!

The interior hosts a couple of precious art treasures, including the 15th century woodcarved altarpiece, the monumental tomb of the Dukes of Mecklenburg from the renaissance era, and one of the most famous sculptures of the 1920s, the bronze Hovering Angel, or simply The Floating One, by the sculptor Ernst Barlach.


Güstrow Palace



In 1556 Güstrow became the residence of the Dukes of Mecklenburg.

In 1621 the dynasty split up into two lines, and a separate line Mecklenburg-Güstrow was formed. It lasted for hardly 75 years, though, then Güstrow lost its glory to Schwerin and Strelitz.

The era of the Dukes has left a majestic Renaissance palace. It is not yet in perfect shape, renovation works are ongoing. At some point in the future it will show all its splendour.




Inside, there are some historical rooms which are remarkable.

For example, the hall with the hunting scenes.

The ceiling is decorated with a series of stucco reliefs.

Along the walls, three-dimensional figures of stags and other animals have been attached. The bodies are made from clay, but the antlers are real.


The palace also hosts a small museum of art and history. Not the kind of place one would cross oceans for, to be honest, but an okay addition to a visit to Güstrow.


Lavendar in the palace gardens

Lake landscape around Güstrow

Posted by Kathrin_E 06:52 Archived in Germany Tagged mecklenburg-vorpommern Comments (0)

(Entries 21 - 25 of 55) « Page 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 9 10 .. »