Germany off the beaten track

Marienberg fortress high above the Main river in Würzburg. © CTW/ Andreas Bestle

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Hanseatic City and Northern Gateway

Northern Germany has always been a gateway of sorts with her busy ports of trade with Scandinavian countries and prominence in the Hanseatic League. Today the grand medieval homes and public buildings still stand in monument to the booming commerce of the Middle Ages.

Eight hundred years of history have shaped this "Gateway to the North": Rostock has preserved much of the charm that it once possessed as one of the most important members of the Hanseatic League. The gabled houses dominating the skyline attest to this, as well as the imposing brick warehouses, massive gates and fortifications, and awe-inspiring churches.

Important examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture abound in Rostock’s Old Town. There is the 1490 Hausbaumhaus (Hausbaum House), one of the few wooden structures remaining in the city. The Marienkirche (St. Mary’s Church), from the same period, continues to cast a dramatic shadow, although the 355-foot steeple of the Petrikirche (St Peter's Church) tops the skyline (climb the 196 steps or take the half-minute elevator ride). Adjacent to the "Marienkirche" stands the 13th-century Rathaus (Town Hall) with its 18th century baroque makeover. Traditional gabled patrician houses line Wokrenterstrasse.

Some of the original city wall still remains, especially along the park-like Wallstrasse. Beyond the wall, villas and residences were built in the 1850s for an expanding middle class. The lively Kröpelinerstrasse (Kröpeliner Street) in the pedestrian zone is usually bustling with window-shoppers and friends chatting at sidewalk cafes. At its mid-way point, the Universitätsplatz (University Square) is a magnet for students, children and other young people. Typical Rostock hospitality is found above all in the so-called "KTV" (Kröpeliner Tor-Vorstadt) with its pubs, restaurants and bars - many of them the favorite haunts of Rostock students.

Plan on a trip to nearby Warnemünde while in the neighborhood. Although Warnemünde has been part of Rostock since 1323, the two cities are different. For some visitors, the beach - as wide as a football field is long - is the prime attraction. Many visitors also come to Warnemünde resorts for their spa offerings.  On the side of the Alter Strom (Old Stream), fishing boats lie tied to cleats as their crews sell from tables heaped with fish. Cross the footbridge over the "Alter Strom", and walk through narrow  alleys lined with centuries-old gabled fishermen’s houses. Where the old and new channels meet, the 92-foot-high Warnemünde Leuchtturm  (Lighthouse) has spread its protective beacon since 1897.


Rostock Town Hall

Teepott, Rostock

Stone Gate, Rostock

St. Peter's Church

St. Mary's Church Rostock

Maritime Simulation Center

Warnemünde Lighthouse

St. Catharine's Convent

City Wall

Old Stream

Map of Germany

Top Tip: Warnemünde

The seaside district Warnemünde is full of maritime charm with belle époque villas, lighthouses and the old timber-framed houses for the fishermen and sailors.