Old town of Stralsund as seen from St. Mary's church|
Old town of Stralsund as seen from St. Mary's church
(as at: 2008)
|01||Altstadt (Old Town)||4,844|
|012||Altstadt||Hafeninsel (Harbour Island)||24|
In the Middle Ages, the Stralsund area was part of the West Slavic Principality of Rügen. At that time, the Dänholm isle and fishing village, both at the site of the latter town, were named Strale / Stralow, Polabian for "arrow" (this meaning is still preserved in the town's coat of arms, showing an arrow). The full Polabian name is Strzałów.
In the course of German Ostsiedlung, many German settlers, gentry and merchants were called into the principality, and eventually populated the Strale settlement. Merchants from other countries as well as locals were attracted to the area and made up for one third of the town's population. The Danish navy used the isle as well. When the settlement had grown to town size, prince Wizlaw I of Rügen granted Lübeck law to "our town Stralow" in 1234, although a significant settlement had existed long before the formal founding. In 1240, when the prince gave additional land to the town, he called it Stralesund.
The success of the settlement challenged the powerful Free City of Lübeck, which burnt Stralsund down in 1249. Afterwards the town was rebuilt with a massive town wall having 11 town gates and 30 watchtowers. The Neustadt, a town-like suburb, was merged to Stralsund by 1361. Schadegard, a twin town to Stralsund also founded by Wizlaw I nearby, but was not granted German law, served as the principal stronghold and enclosed a fort. It was given up and torn down by 1269 under the pressure of the Stralsund Bürger.
In 1293 Stralsund became a member of the Hanseatic League. A total of 300 ships flying the flag of Stralsund cruised the Baltic Sea in the 14th century. In 1325, the Principality of Rügen became part of the Duchy of Pomerania, Stralsund however maintained a considerable independence.
In the 17th century, Stralsund became a theatre in the Thirty Years' War. In the Battle of Stralsund (1628), the town was besieged by Albrecht von Wallenstein after the council refused to accept the Capitulation of Franzburg. Stralsund resisted with Danish and Swedish support. The Swedish garrison in Stralsund was the first on German soil in history. With the Treaty of Stettin (1630), the town became one of two major Swedish forts in the Duchy of Pomerania, besides Stettin (now Szczecin).
After the war, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and the Treaty of Stettin (1653) made Stralsund part of Swedish Pomerania. Lost to Brandenburg in the Battle of Stralsund (1678), it was restored to Sweden in the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1679). In the Great Northern War in 1715 Charles XII led the defence of Stralsund for a year against the united European armies. Stralsund remained under Swedish control until the Battle of Stralsund (1807), when it was seized by Napoleon Bonaparte's army. Seized by Ferdinand von Schill's freikorps in 1809, it was subsequently re-gained by France, with Schill killed in action. In the Congress of Vienna (1815), Stralsund became a part of the Prussian Province of Pomerania and the seat of a government region resembling the former Swedish Pomerania.
Culture and sights
|Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|Stralsund: Old Market Square with the Town Hall and the Nikolaikirche|
|UNESCO region||Europe and North America, Germany|
|Inscription||2002 (26th Session)|
- The historic Stralsund old town island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features many valuable remnants of the Hanseatic time, Brick Gothic, renaissance, baroque, historicist and Jugendstil buildings.
- The heart of the old town is the Old Market Square (Alter Markt), with the Gothic Town Hall (13th century). Behind the town hall soars the imposing Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas' Church), built in 1270–1360. The square is surrounded by houses from different periods, including the Gothic Wulflamhaus (a 14th-century patrician house, today a restaurant), and the Baroque Commandantenhus of 1751, the old headquarters of the Swedish military commander.
- The Jakobikirche (Saint James's Church), built in mid-14th century. It was destroyed several times, e.g. by Wallenstein and in World War II.
- The Marienkirche (Saint Mary's Church), built in 1383–1473 in Gothic style, is the largest church in Stralsund, and from 1625—1647 it was the world's tallest structure. Its octagonal tower (104 meters high) offers a panorama view of Stralsund and the neighboring islands of Rugia and Hiddensee.
- The Johanniskloster (Franciscan monastery built in 1254), is one of the oldest buildings in the town.
- Stralsund is the port of registry for the former German Reichsmarine Navy Sail Training ship "Gorch Fock" 1. It is now a floating museum.
- The Katharinenkloster (Monastery of Saint Catherine), mainly built in the 15th century, houses two museums today: Stralsund's Museum of Cultural History (known for e.g. the Gold Jewellery of Hiddensee), and the German Maritime Museum, Germany's largest aquarium and maritime collection. The ancient refectory of the monastery is one of the most spectacular Gothic interiors in Germany.
- Besides the mentioned German Maritime Museum at the Katharinenkloster, Stralsund has other museums dedicated to marine life, including the popular Ozeaneum that was voted European Museum of the Year in 2010. There is also the Nautineum on Dänholm island and the Marinemuseum Dänholm, showcasing the military history of the Germany Navy, especially the Reichsmarine. It also hosts one of the last remaining GDR Volksmarine torpedo boats.
Buildings and monuments
- Old Town (Altstadt)
The centre of Stralsund has a wealth of historic buildings. Since 1990, large parts of the historic old town have been renovated with private and public capital, and with the support of foundations. As a result of the contempt for historic buildings in East Germany many houses were threatened by ruin. The Old Town in particular, offers a rich variety of historic buildings, with many former merchants' houses, churches, streets and squares. Of more than 800 listed buildings in Stralsund, more than 500 are designated as individual monuments in the Old Town. In twenty years, from the Wende in 1990 to November 2010, 588 of the more than 1,000 old buildings were completely refurbished, including 363 individual monuments. Because of its historical and architectural significance, in 2002 Stralsund's old town together with the old town of Wismar were added to entitled the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list as the "Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar".
- Old Market Square (Alter Markt)
The ensemble of buildings on the Old Market Square, including St. Nicholas' Church, the Town Hall, one of the most important secular buildings of North German Brick Gothic architecture, the Artushof, the Wulflamhaus, the Commandantenhus, the Gewerkschaftshaus and a new Plattenbau, an overview of the architectonic history of the town.
- Town houses
The town houses with their distinctive gables, often renovated at a high financial cost, dominate the scene in the streets of the Old Town. The former Swedish Government Palace is now home to the town construction department. The Museum of Cultural History Museum in Mönchstraße refurbished with funds from the German Foundation for Monument Conservation and now offers an experience and understanding of history over seven centuries as one of the most important surviving original houses of the Hanseatic era in Northern Europe.
Three big medieval Brick Gothic buildings – St. Mary's Church, St. Nicholas' Church and St. James' Church, point to the medieval significance of Stralsund. Today St. James' is used purely as a cultural church, its parish being served now by the Church of the Holy Spirit, used as a common church and also dating to the 14th century. The two other churches on the Old Market Square and Neuer Markt are still used for church services. From the tower of St. Mary's on Neuer Markt offers a panoramic view over Stralsund and the island of Rugia Island. Amongst the more recent church buildings are the Church of the Resurrection, Holy Trinity Church, Church of Peace and the Lutheran Church.
The Gothic abbey of St. Anne and St. Bridget (Kloster St. Annen und Brigitten) in Schillstraße was established around 1560 from the merger of the abby of St. Anne (1480) and the double abbey of Mariakron (1421).
The Abbey of St. Jürgen (Kloster St. Jürgen am Strande) on Mönchstraße was mentioned in 1278 for the first time. It served in the 14th century as an old people's home. In 1632 the church and building were demolished. In 1743 a new building, the Kleines St. Jürgen Kloster, was built at Kniepertor and the site was extended in 1754 to create old people's flats and in 1841 for widow's apartments.
For St. Catherine's Abbey (Katharinenkloster) from 1251 to around 1400 and St. Catherine's Church, consecrated in 1287, see the German Maritime Museum.
First mentioned in 1256 as the Heilgeistkloster is the Hospital of the Holy Spirit. Poor and sick people were once looked after here. Today all flats and houses have been renovated, and the area is worth walking through.
Ferries to Hiddensee and Altefähr, as well as harbour tour boats, dock at the port. In the summer months the port is a berthing places for river cruisers. There are several yacht harbours and marinas near the Old Town. Hundreds of yachts and boats tie up along the north mole in summer. Architectonically the pilot station and the harbour warehouse (Hafenspeicher) as well as the silhouette of the Old Town form an attractive contrast with the view of the islands of Rugia and Hiddensee. The barque, Gorch Fock is another tourist attraction in the harbour.
- Town defences
The Fachhochschule Stralsund is a University of Applied Sciences with a modern campus, north of the old town at the Strelasund. It has around 2,500 students and is among the best ranked public universities in Germany in various fields, especially in economics. Other university departments are Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Information Technology. The FH Stralsund also offers international study programs, such as Leisure and Tourism Management and Baltic Management Studies (international business management).
Stralsund is linked to the A20 motorway (towards Berlin and Hamburg), via the B96n dual-carriageway. Other major roads include the B105 (beginning in the town centre and continuing to Rostock) and the B96 (major road to Rugia) and the B194 to the town of Grimmen.
Town buses are run by SWS (Stadtwerke Stralsund).
Twin towns and sister cities
Stralsund is twinned with:
- 23x15px Malmö, Sweden
- 23x15px Stargard Szczeciński, Poland
- 23x15px Ventspils, Latvia
- 23x15px Trelleborg, Sweden
- 23x15px Pori, Finland
- 23x15px Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein/Germany
- 23x15px Svendborg, Denmark