Historic old town - holiday in Greifswald
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  • Tel: +49 (0) 3834 85361380

Historic Old Town

The brick-red heart of Greifswald - the historic old town

The beginnings of the university and Hanseatic city of Greifswald go back to 1199, when the Cistercian monastery Hilda (later Eldena) was founded at the mouth of the Ryck River. The city was first mentioned in 1248 under the name "oppidum Gripheswald". In 1250, Greifswald received Lübeck city rights from the Duke of Pomerania, thereby laying the foundation for bourgeois prosperity during the Hanseatic period. The picture of the historic old town of Greifswald is characterized by the medieval brick Gothic style. You can already see the steeples of the three brick churches from afar, which are affectionately known in the vernacular as long Nicholas, fat Marie and little Jacob.

The market square in Greifswald and its gabled houses

The 11.000 m² market square, paved with Lusatian granite, forms the heart of the historic old town and is a meeting place for citizens and traders then and now. Gothic residential warehouses, the imperial post office and the old council pharmacy give the square a colorful setting. The oxblood-red facade of the Greifswald town hall, which is the seat of the Lord Mayor and the Greifswald information located. First mentioned in 1349, the town hall got its current appearance after two town fires in 1713 and 1738. The old council chamber with its baroque design and artistic wall decoration is now used as a wedding room. The heavy bronze door at the side entrance was designed by the Rostock sculptor Jo Jastram and commemorates the handover of the city to the Red Army on April 29, 1945 without a fight. The fisherman's fountain on the fish market behind the town hall also comes from the artist's workshop.

The 9 testimonies of brick Gothic

The bright red brick characterizes the image of numerous cities and landscapes in the North and Baltic Sea regions to this day. Natural stones did not occur in the region and so a form of construction developed that was based on the rediscovery of fired blocks of clay and was carried across national borders due to the close economic relationships.

The university and Hanseatic city of Greifswald is one of the most important cities along the European Route of Brick Gothic. A total of 9 buildings have been preserved as evidence of medieval construction: the gabled houses at Markt 11 and 13, St. Nikolai, St. Marien, St. Jacobi, the Monastery ruins Eldena, the prisoner tower, St. Spiritus and the monastery library of the Pomeranian State Museum. The city's brick churches, monasteries and town houses bear witness to lively building activity in the late Middle Ages and are closely linked to the prosperity and influence of the Hanseatic League.

The historic city fortifications as the green belt of the old town

With the increasing prosperity of the medieval Hanseatic city, the construction of a defense system in 1264 became indispensable. The ramparts, the moat and some sections of the old city wall are what remains of the former moats, towers and gates. The ramparts enclose the historic heart of the city for more than 2 km and invite you to go for long walks all year round. Beginning at Fangenturm, the path leads via Mühlentor and Kastanienwall to the zoo and the Credner facilities. It used to be there too Botanic Garden within the city walls. However, as space became increasingly scarce, the garden was relocated to its present location on Grimmer Strasse.

Header photo: Brick gabled houses at Markt 11 and Markt 13 © Wally Pruß