My Visit to Stralsund, Germany
I arrived in Stralsund at 10 o’clock by car and drove directly to the hotel I was going to stay at. At the reception I was given a map of Stralsund and information on how to go to get into the old town.
After about ten minutes of walking, I stood on the Alter Markt, the city’s main square, by the town hall. There I looked up the tourist information to find out where the sights I had chosen to visit were located. The old town is not very big so it is easy to get around on foot.
I had time to visit these World Heritage-listed sights before I, on the recommendation of a doctor, interrupted my trip and returned home to treat my bicycle injury.
On Alter Markt, the main square, is Stralsund’s main attraction, the old Town Hall dating from the 13th century. Stralsund’s town hall is said to be one of the most beautiful profane buildings in the northern German brick Gothic. Unfortunately, the building was being renovated during my visit, so I could only look at it under the tarpaulins that hid the building. It “stings in the heart” not to be allowed to take any pictures of the beautiful town hall!
On the Alter Markt is also the giant St Nikolai Kirche, St Nikolai Church , which was first mentioned in 1276. The church is dedicated to the sailors’ patron saint Saint Nicholas. In the 14th century, the church was rebuilt into a basilica and then got a double tower. In the 17th century, the southern tower was built on and then had a height of 103 meters.
In Stralsund there are many beautiful old world heritage listed gable houses built from the 13th century to the 18th century. Some of the most famous are the Wulflamhaus, Alter Markt 5 (built in the 1350s), Scheelehaus , Fährstraße 23/24 (the house at No. 23 was built in the 14th century and the one at No. 24 was built in the 17th century), the Gavelhuset at Külpstraße 5 (built in the early 14th century) and some gabled houses on Frankenstrasse (built in the 15th century).
St Johannis monastery is one of Stralsund’s oldest buildings. The monastery was founded by the Franciscan Order in 1254 and included not only the monastery but several surrounding buildings and the large monastery church which was destroyed by a large fire in 1624. St. Johannis monastery was also badly damaged by the American bombings in 1944.
Heilgeist Spital, the hospital of the Holy Spirit, was first mentioned in 1256. Here the sick and poor were cared for, but the facility also provided accommodation for pilgrims who sought refuge in Stralsund. At the beginning of the 15th century, the Heilgeist hospital was moved to Wasserstrasse, thus being exposed and suffering both sieges and destruction.
Adjacent to Heilgeist Hospital, Heilgeist Kirche, the Church of the Holy Spirit, was built in the 16th century. In this there is a beautiful altar from the 1770s and beautiful glass windows. One of the motifs depicts the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf!
I enjoyed walking around this complex because here was a beautiful hallway that leads into the church from the hospital area. Inside the hospital area there are many beautiful old houses in different architecture. Where pilgrims and the sick used to live, today pensioners live in some of the houses.
Near Heilgeist Hospital is Stadtwaage , the city’s authority for controlling weights and measures used in business. The beautiful brick building was badly damaged by the bombing of Stralsund during World War II. The house was renovated to its original condition during 1991 – 92. Today, the city’s children’s library is housed in the building.
St Jakobikirche, St Jakobikyrkan, is a church you notice for your special church tower. The first time St Jakobikyrkan is mentioned is in a record dated August 9, 1303. It is believed that the church at this time was under construction. The first construction phase was completed in the 1390s. In the middle of the 15th century, the nave was raised, the aisle was widened and the new church tower was built, which was 68 meters high. In 1628 Wallenstein’s troops fired at the church with 30 cannon shots, in 1662 the church was hit by a fire caused by lightning. In 1678 and 1715, St. James’ Church was again shelled with artillery and severely damaged. In the early 19th century, Napoleon’s troops used the church as a stable and prison. In 1917, the church bells were melted down to be used for weapons production. On October 6, 1944, the church was severely damaged by bombings. After the end of World War II, the church was looted and in the following years in the GDR, the church fell further. Recently, the church has been renovated. “Talk about drama”!
I thought the exterior of the church was very worth seeing. The interior was extremely spartan due to the damage during World War II.
St Marienkirche, St Mariakyrkan, was between the years 1549 and 1647 the tallest building in the world!
Mariakyrkan is Stralsund’s largest church which was mentioned for the first time in 1298. In 1382 the church tower collapsed and destroyed the church. Today’s church tower was built during the years 1384 – 1487. In 1647, the church tower was hit by a lightning strike that destroyed the top of the church tower, which at this time amounted to 151 meters. Today’s baroque tower, 104 meters high, dates to 1708. During the years 1807 to 1810, St. Mary’s Church served as a barracks and home warehouse for the French troops at the same time the church was plundered, so little remains of the original interior. On October 6, 1944, the church was damaged by bombs.
The church’s major attractions are the magnificent baroque organ acquired in 1659, the altar and the beautiful noble tombs.
For those who want, it is possible to go up to the 104 meter high church tower where you have nice views over Stralsund. I missed this because I saved this attraction for the following day, which I went home to Sweden on medical prescription to take care of my bicycle injury.
Do not miss to look at this mighty church when visiting Stralsund!
The city wall and city gates are first mentioned in writing in 1256. At this time, the fortification consisted of piles. The Swedish king Gustav II Adolf got the city dwellers to strengthen and expand the old city wall. When the expansion was completed, the then 3,100 meter long city wall consisted of a stone wall with ten towers and guard corridors. The most famous city gate Kniepertor is first noted in writing in 1293 and got its current appearance in the 15th century.
The almost square 18-meter-high Kniepertor often played an important role in the city’s history, for example when Wallenstein unsuccessfully tried to penetrate the city through this gate during the Thirty Years’ War. However, Napoleon’s troops succeeded in this in 1809.
Even though I had to cancel my trip prematurely, I got a lot out of it. I was fascinated by all the beautiful buildings in brick Gothic architecture, the impressive churches and the peaceful atmosphere of Wismar and Stralsund. These are two cities I would gladly recommend a visit to anyone interested in architecture and history. I will return to Stralsund as I did not have the opportunity to visit any of the buildings I was interested in.