As our Viking Ocean cruise pulled into Warnemünde, Germany’s port, we had the option of visiting Berlin (two and a half hours by train) as well as several additional excursions.

Warnemünde, Germany

Having already been to Berlin several times (during the time I lived in The Netherlands), I’d heard about (and was recommended a visit to) Rostock, about a 25 minute drive away from Warnemünde, so I took the opportunity to explore this charming Hanseatic city.


Rostock was granted city rights in the 13th century and since then has served as a key point for trade and shipbuilding on the Baltic. Fun fact: Founded in 1219, Rostock is still debt-free.

The city was hit by bombs in 1942, however the majority of its buildings were spared, including the Brick Gothic Marienkirche, Renaissance-gabled merchant houses as well as a long stretch of the city’s defensive walls dating to the 13th century.


Marienkirche hasn’t changed much since the 14th century, including its decor.

Despite widespread destruction during those 1942 bombing raids, the church was only partially damaged and its fires were swiftly extinguished.



[Marienkirche is applying for UNESCO status for its amazing 15th century astronomical clock!]

Key highlights of the church include the altar to St Roch, a 1530 Late Gothic masterpiece carved from oak, a bronze baptismal font from 1290 and a very unique astronomical clock dating to 1472.


Rostock’s defensive walls were first raised in the 1100’s and were then adapted for gunpowder in the 16th and 17th centuries.


Due to Rostock’s redesign and expansion in the 19th century, only four of the original 20 medieval gates – and over a kilometer of wall – remain intact.

[Kröpeliner Tor]

At one of the gates, Kröpeliner Tor, you can navigate a wooden walkway along the wall up to Schwaansche Straße. You’ll also pass by small guardhouses along the way.

A few streets north of the walls is the triangular Universitätsplatz, which, like Neuer Markt, is contained within Rostock’s pedestrian zone.


The square is named after the university, founded in the 15th century and intersected by Kröpeliner Straße, Rostock’s main shopping street.

The current main university building is located at the west side of the square and has a Neo-Renaissance design from the 1860’s.


The fountain in the centre, Der Brunnen der Lebensfreude (Fountain for the Joy of Life), was created by Jo Jastram and Reinhard Dietrich.

A bit further east is the Kuhtor (Cow Gate), said to be the oldest surviving city gate in Northern Germany (dating to the second half of the 13th century).

Rostock, Germany-2

The Gothic Monastery of the Holy Cross contains Rostock’s cultural history museum and is considered one of the foremost museums in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

A highlight here is the sacred art from Rostock’s various religious buildings dating from the Middle Ages to the end of the 16th century, counting statues, choir stalls and altars.

There’s Dutch Renaissance and Baroque art by the likes of Jan Brueghel, a series of city landscapes, and modern art labelled degenerate by the Nazis.

Rostock, Germany
[When in Germany…]

The Neuer Markt didn’t escape the 1942 bombing, however most of the east side of the square is original. Eye-catching houses (including no. 12 and 16) are especially photo-worthy.

[Neuer Markt]

Rostock’s arcaded Rathaus (town hall) on Neuer Markt dates to the 13th century, and just might be the oldest town hall in Germany. In the 18th century, its façade was damaged in a storm and was replaced with a Baroque design (its only remaining original detail is a set of seven Gothic turrets capping the roof).


In front of the entrance, make sure to look for the snake sculpture. Although this is a 1998 version, there has been a snake here in some form since the 1800’s.


A few minutes west of the centre of Rostock is the town of Bad Doberan, which, as well as boasting a stunning Brick Gothic minster, serves as the Eastern terminus for an 1880’s narrow gauge railway called The Molli.

[Molli photo by Matthias Hertwig on Flickr]

These trains chug along a cultured lime tree-lined avenue and continue to the Baltic for a nostalgic 40-minute steam powered journey, with stunning sea views out to to Kühlungsborn. Frederick Francis III, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was present for the train’s inaugural run.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.