Sightseeing in Wismar
Wismar’s major sights are its huge market square and the brick Gothic St Nikolaikirche. Other sights of lesser interest are scattered through the city. The old town is relatively compact and the sights can be seen in less than half a day.
Wismar’s main attraction is its huge 100 by 100 m (328 x 328 feet) Markt or Market Square. It is lined on all four sides by gabled buildings, mostly three or four stories high, of varying styles. This part of town has been magnificently restored since the Wende.
In the southeastern corner of the square is the Wasserkunst (literary Water Art). This beautiful Dutch Renaissance pavilion was completed in 1602 to cover a waterworks system that for centuries supplied parts of Wismar with water through wooden pipes.
The largest building on the square is the 19th-century Neo-Classical Rathaus (Town Hall), which stretches almost the full length of the north side of the square. Parts of the original Gothic Rathaus are incorporated in the new building, including the vaulted cellars with patches of the original 14th-century wall paintings.
The oldest unaltered façade is the lovely brick Gothic Alter Schwede dating from 1380. It has housed a restaurant since 1878. Adjacent to the right is the Reuterhaus, housing a hotel and restaurant, and to the left an Art Nouveau building showing clear medieval influences in its design. Baroque and Renaissance façades round out the hodgepodge of architectural styles. The huge market square itself is used as a handy, if somewhat unattractive parking lot.
Two blocks to the west of Markt is St Marienkirche (St Mary’s Church), or more accurately the remaining tower of the former early 13th-century church. The church was largely destroyed in an air raid and only the 80-m (264-foot) tower survived further destruction during the Communist era. The clock has a diameter of five meters (16.4 feet) and the 14-song carillon chimes daily at noon, 3, and 7 pm.
Nearby is the Fürstenhof (Princes’ Court). Parts of this building are Gothic, but more interesting is the richly decorated mid-16th-century Renaissance façade. The building originally housed the princes of Mecklenburg and during the Swedish period served as the highest tribunal for Swedish territories in Northern Germany.
Across the road is the St Georgen-Kirche (St George’s Church). This early 13th-century brick Gothic church was left in ruins after World War II. A complete reconstruction started in 1990, but is not due for completion for several more years.
The Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas Church), Speiegelberg 14, is a good 10 minutes walk from the Markt in the general direction of the Hauptbahnhof. The present brick Gothic church dates mostly from the 14th century and is of monumental proportions – the nave is the fourth-highest in Germany, at 37 m (122 feet). The west tower was only completed in 1508. The collapse of its slender ridge turret during a storm in 1703 led to the introduction of several Baroque elements on the repaired church. The interior is filled with art – many pieces from the destroyed St Georgen and St Marienkirche found a new home here after 1945. The 1430 carved Gothic high altar is one of the largest in the region and over nine m wide (30 feet) when opened. The bronze baptismal font is about a century older.
Nearby is the Schabbelhaus, built in the late 16th century. It was one of the first Renaissance houses in the Baltic region and uses brick with decorative elements cut from sandstone. It currently houses the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum (Local History), Schweinsbrücke 8. On display are items related to Wismar and the immediate region as well as a large collection on the history of medicine.
In front of the church flows the Grube, an artificial waterway laid out in 1255 and used for doing laundry well into the 20th century. The waterway leads to the Alter Hafen (Old Harbor), which is nowadays mostly used for leisure and fishing vessels. Also here, the brick Gothic Wassertor (Water Gate) is the only gate surviving from the medieval town fortifications.
Ischgl is a small mountain village turned hip ski resort, with massive appeal among the party-hearty young crowds. It is... Read More
Andorra la Vella is its own little world, and not just because it’s a 290-square-mile independent principality (a fifth the... Read More
Bariloche (officially San Carlos de Bariloche) is the place to be seen. It is to Argentina what Aspen is to the... Read More
Aspen is America's most famous ski resort. And that's an understatement. For, as a ski complex, Aspen is unsurpassed. Its... Read More
Zermatt is a small but glamorous mountain resort town, with a population of approximately 5,700. It is one of Switzerland's... Read More
St. Moritz is a glitzy, alpine resort town in the celebrated Engadin Valley of Switzerland, with huge notoriety as the... Read More
Lake Tahoe is the premier lake resort of America, and the largest alpine lake in all of North America. It is an absolutely... Read More
St. Anton, Sankt Anton am Arlberg in German, is Austria's premier ski-bum resort! It's actually a small village cum... Read More
Kitzbühel, a small, Tyrolian resort town in the Kitzbüheler Alps, comes with international renown and huge snob appeal, and... Read More