With its magnificent buildings, Wismar’s historic old town is one of those medieval city centers in northern Germany that have been well preserved. The old Hanseatic* city has been able to keep its medieval urban layout with the street network, closed quarter structure and the market square unchanged
What is Hanseatic?
Wismar belongs to the “Hanseatic League”, meaning a medieval league of towns of northern Germany and adjacent countries for the promotion and protection of commerce
Being a fan of the German TV crime thriller “Soko Wismar” I always was curious and intrigued about visiting this northern gem.
Wismar Old Town center with its carefully restored town houses, the unique market square, and the imposing brick Gothic buildings are completely under monument protection. In June 2002, the monument “Historic Old Towns Stralsund and Wismar” was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
I noticed some impressive buildings walking back to my car, luckily I found a nice person that took some pictures of me at the Marktplatz
The City Hall (Rathaus)
On the north side of the Wismar market square, the broad town hall welcomes strollers with its unmistakable classical charm. The town hall was built from 1817 to 1819 according to the designs of the Schwerin court architect Johann Georg Barca and shows a simple plastered building that rises in two main floors and one mezzanine floor above a rectangular floor plan.
The slightly protruding side projections and the balcony, which is supported by Doric columns and adorns the entrance area, are striking.
Der Alte Schwede (Old Swede)
The oldest town house in Wismar is on the east side of the market square. It is one of the most valuable late Gothic secular buildings The brick building with the stepped gable, and the decorated windows was built around 1380.
In the Middle Ages were business and living rooms on the ground floor, the space above was used for storage. When an Inn in the neo-Gothic style moved in in 1878, the building was given the popular name “Old Swede”. It was a reminder that Wismar belonged to Sweden from 1648 to 1803. In 1977 the building was completely restored.
The Wismar “Wasserkunst” Fountain
In the middle of the Wismar Marktplatz is the “Wasserkunst” fountain, a splendid building which in earlier times served as the water supply for the citizens of Wismar.
The Wismar Archdiocese (Diakonat)
One of the most beautiful examples of north German brick Gothic is the former administration and residential building of the Archdeacon (Episcopal representative in the church of the Middle Ages). The stepped gable on the north side is richly structured and decorated with wind holes. The lush building decor consists of the glazed bricks and shaped stones typical of the north German brick Gothic.
Sankt Marienkirche (St. Mary’s Church)
Of the once mighty Sankt Marienkirche or St. Mary’s Church was built at the beginning of the 14th century according to plans by the master builder Johann Grote, only the 80 meter high church tower remains as a landmark that can be seen from the sea.
A parish church of St. Mary was mentioned for the first time in 1250. It was probably a wooden structure that was replaced by bricks between 1260 and 1280. Extensive reconstruction work was carried out on the roof of the tower and the clock system between 1978 and 1981.
Wismar Old Harbor
Wismar has been connected to the sea for centuries. In the Old Harbor I felt the unmistakable flair of the sea and fishing. I read in the past, when the richly laden ships of merchants docked, there was extensive haggling for goods in the harbor when fishermen negotiated the best prices for their freshly caught fish.
After the seamen work was done, rough seafaring songs were sung in the pubs and a lot of fishing net was untangled. Today cutters and yachts and passenger ships dominate the old port. At the weekend, many locals and tourists meet at the fish market and of course to buy fresh fish and enjoy the lively harbor life.
Wassertor (Water Gate)
The Wassertor (Water Gate) was built in 1450 in the late Gothic style. A square brick tower rises above the pointed archway and is covered by a gable roof. The only preserved water gate on the German Baltic Sea coast is the last of the five city gates of Wismar.
It was part of the four meter high city wall built in the 13th century with its numerous wall towers. In the 19th century, the economic development of Wismar experienced a great boom and the city needed more space. The city wall had to give way, it was demolished in 1869/70 except for a few remains.