Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


13.3.16
  Harbour Impressions from Wismar

I have been to Wismar twice last year, in spring for the brick architecture and in autumn to join a sailing trip on the reconstrcuted cog Wissemara. In spring I got sunshine; in autumn a mix of rain, sun and a thunderstorm. So I got a collection of photos with different moods again.

The skyline of Wismar's old town
Left to right: St.Nicolai Church, tower of St.Mary, St.George Church,
and several cranes in the harbour outside the town

The tour on the cog gave me the chance to take photos from the seaside. When we left, the rain stopped and the sun came out (which made for a really nice trip). Upon return, a nasty, dark-clouded thunderstorm was brewing over the town while the evening sun still shone on the sea, highlighting some features in an eerie glow.

A container crane seen in the light of an incoming thunderstorm

Like Stralsund, Wismar was a Slavic settlement in the early Middle Ages; the tribe living in the area were the Obodrite. Their prince Heinrich Borwin, a Christian and vassal of Duke Heinrich the Lion of Saxony, founded Wismar in 1226. This brought an influx of German settlers. The three settlements around the churches St.Nicolai, St.Mary, and St. George grew together, and by 1276 a wall surrounded the entire town. Wismar became an official member of the Hanseatic League in 1259 when the town joined with Lübeck and Rostock to fight the Baltic Sea pirates.

Wismar, St.Nicolai Church seen from the sea

Wismar lies inside a bay which is further protected by Poel isle on the southern end. The old town is Unesco World Heritage, together with Stalsund. Wismar had suffered bomb destruction during WW2, and the GDR government had the St.Mary church blown up except for the tower (instead of repairing it). But both Wismar and Stralsund have undergone lots of renovation after the German reunion and are today little jewels of brick architecture with some splendid churches.

Tower of St.Mary Church, St. George, and modern container cranes

Wismar - also like Stralsund - became a Swedish possession after the Thirty Years War, since the Swedes had conquered the town in 1632. The Swedish kings turned Wismar into a sea fortress with 18 bastions carrying 700 canons, but Sweden nevertheless lost Wismar to Prussia in the Great Nordic War in 1716 (1) and was forced to dismantle the bastions.

Sweden pawned out Wismar to the dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1803 and abandoned the pawn in 1903, so Wismar fell back to Germany. This is still celebrated today.

View to the old harbour, with one of the new container cranes in the background

Wismar's old harbour, once teeming with cogs being unloaded and merchants in fur lined cloaks checking on wares, is now a quiet place used by smaller sailing ships, some fisherboats who sell snacks directly from the railing, and the Poel ferries. Though on a sunny day the place can still be busy with tourists. And thieving gulls. ;-)

The old harbour on a sunny day

At the outer end of the old quay stands the 18th century 'Beam House'. The building is named after the beams and chains that were drawn across the water to protect the harbour at night. On the other side is the Water Gate, built 1450 in the gabled Gothic style. It is one of the five gates that once allowed entrance into the town and the only one to access the town from the water side. You can see the Water Gate on the photo below; it is the gabled building with the white decorations to the left.

The old harbour on a Sunday evening

The old harbour is framed by warehouses many of which today house hotels and restaurants. At the end of the season, with fewer tourists around and the weather on the dreary side, the old harbour is a quiet place.

Besides the old harbour, Wismar has several marinas in the outskirts of the town.

Leaving the harbour on the cog

Nowadasy, new harbours and shipyards spread along the inner part of the bay. They had grown over time and got an additional push after 1945 when Russia established a shipyard for its fleet in Wismar. After the reunion, it was taken over by Nordic Yard, which is one of the main employers in Wismar and well known for its large dry dock of 395 metres length and 72 metres height.

Wismar, the outer harbour

The sea harbour deals with timber, steel, building materials, and salt, among other goods. The docks have a length of 2.3 kilometres and offer space for up to 15 large cargo ships.The transhipping in 2015 was 3.7 million tons, making the harbour of Wismar more important than Stralsund.

The reconstructed cog Wissemara in the rain

In 1997, the wreck of a Hanseatic cog was found in the Bay of Wismar near the Poel isle. Research showed that it was made of pine timbers cut in 1354. The hull was clinker-built and showed elements that date back to the Viking and Slavic ships of the early Middle Ages, thus perhaps providing an example for the special 'Baltic cog' which has been assumed to have existed (2). The cog is 31 metres long and could carry freight of 200 tons.

The cog against the light

The wreck served as model for the reconstruction of a cog using the old techniques. The planks were cut with special axes; saws did not exist. They were then bent into shape using steam - a very tricky process. The one difference was the use of steel nails instead of iron ones. I visited the construction site in 2004 and talked with the guys working there, so it was a special experience to be able to actually sail the cog whose hull I had seen back then (it was finished in 2006). The cog, dubbed Wissemara, has been equipped with a motor and a toilet, plus benches and cots in the freight space, and offers sailing tours from several hours to several days.

Passing the sea bridge in the evening light

Footnotes
1) Basically Russia, Saxony / Poland and Denmark / Norway, both personal unions, against Sweden, fighting for supremacy on the Baltic Sea. Later, England, Prussia, Hannover, France, the Netherlands, Poland-Lithuania and others joined in, inlcuding the Ottoman Empire, thus extending the conflict all the way to the Crimea. It lasted from 1700 to 1721.
2) The significance of the find is still discussed.

 
Comments:
Beautiful pics, as always. St Nocolai Church is really impressive.
 
Dankeschön für den Ausflug nach Wismar. Es hat mir sehr gefallen, die Stadt auch einmal mit Deinen Augen zu sehen. Ich bin ja auch immer wieder einmal in Wismar. In diesem Zusammenhang vielleicht mal ein Hinweis auf einen Beitrag von mir, in den ich auch ein, wie ich finde, ganz interessantes YouTube-Video über die "Wissemara" eingebunden habe: https://buecherstaub.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/die-blaue-serie-teil-32-das-unverhoffte-geschenk/
LG von der Silberdistel
 
Thank you, Kasia. Those brick churches in the Hanseatic towns are all very pretty.

Liebe Silberdistel, danke für den Link zu deinem Post. Da kann ich die Kogge ja mal unter Segeln von aussen sehen; ich habe natürlich nur Aufnahmen von Bord des Schiffes und von aussen nur am Kai. An dem Strand, von dem aus du die Fotos gemacht hast, habe ich bei meinem ersten Besuch in 2004 auch gestanden. :-)
 
Post a Comment

<< Home


The Lost Fort is a blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK and other places, with essays on Roman and Mediaeval history illustrated with lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes. You may also find the odd essay about geology or Mediaeval literature.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


e-mail

Twitter