Rostock’s Downtown Sights

Central Rostock with the harbour and River Warnow in the background taken from St. Mary; by Strullkowski

Here we want to inform you about the most famous and extraordinary sights in the city‘s central districts. Every sight is evidence of Rostock‘s rich historical past.


The Medieval City Wall

Historical City Wall during the Thiry-Years’ War

Until the mid 13th century Rostock didn‘t exist as we know it but instead formed three sovereign city districts. It was not until 1265 that these three districts were officially united and a city wall built around the new city centre spanning 3 km and originally containing more than 20 city gates. These gates were either called „Landtore“ (country gates) or „Strandtore“ (beach gates) depending on whether they led into the hinterland of Mecklenburg or to the city port at the Lower Warnow.

The reduced city wall with the monastery in the background, by Stullkowski

During the Thirty-Years‘ War (1618-1648) the wall was fortified and extended under Wallenstein before this was reversed and the wall partly severely reduced in its height

The Lagebuschturm, by Darkone

when the city expanded beyond its wall. Due to bombardments during World War II it was seriously damaged, or dismantled after the war. Nevertheless three massive „Landtore“ made of brick stone (Steintor, Kuhtor, Kroepeliner Tor) and a „Strandtor“ from the neo-classical period (Moenchentor) remained, furthermore one wall tower (Lagebuschturm), large parts of the city wall which add up to about 1,300m in length and parts of the rampart. Some passages of the fortification were reconstructed in the 1930s.


Kröpeliner Tor with city wall, by Stullkowski

The Kröpelin Gate (Kröpeliner Tor)

Located in the city‘s centre at the western end of Rostock‘s shopping mile „Kröpeliner Straße“ it is still unsure where this sight originally got its title from. On the one hand it could stem from a patrician dynasty, on the other hand from the small town of Kroepelin which is situated in the direction the Gate points at.

The Kröpeliner Tor at the end of the shopping mile “Kröpeliner Straße”, by B. Kovacs

The Gate is first mentioned in 1280. It was erected in the Gothic Period and originally consisted of only two storeys which is still visible when you look at the different colouring of the bricks. The building was extended by five further storeys in around 1400 and thus reached its height of now 54m.

The Kröpeliner Tor with the neo-Gothic forebuilding which existed until 1945

Fortunately the Gate hadn‘t been severely damaged during World War II and until 1945 it had had a neo-Gothic forebuilding which was later removed due to „aesthetic reasons“. Additionally parts of the original medieval city wall reaching from the northern side of the gate to the fisher‘s bastion were pulled down in 1948 owing to urban planning which were never carried out, though.

After being restored in the years following 1966 it had been used as the Museum of the city‘s history since 1969. After being closed in 2004 the society of the History Workshop (Geschichtswerkstatt e.V.) moved in.


The „Steintor“ (The Stone Gate)

The city side of the Steintor, by Darkone

The original gate was built in 1279 replacing the „Kuhtor“ as the city‘s Southern main portal. Today‘s building was constructed in the Dutch Renaissance style from 1574 until 1577. Pointing to the inner city the gate‘s one side shows the Seal of the Princes, the city‘s Great Seal and the hanseatic coat of arms (from left to right) as well as the inscription „Sit intra te concordia et publica felicitas“ (“Harmony and well being to all within you [your walls]“). These seals carried by lions display wealth.

The outer side of the Steintor with the Lagebuschturm connected by the city wall, by Stullkowski

On the other side a very small version of the city‘s and the federal coat of arms is to be found. This side of the gate shows a certain simplicity in order to symbolise defensive potential and demonstrate strength. The stones for the portcullis and the crenels are still visible today. There has long been a direct connection to the city wall which, however, was pulled down in favour of new road planning. Due to serious damages from bombardments during World War II restorations were carried out from 1950 until 1954. In 2005 the missing link to the wall was symbolically restored by twelve pillars glowing in the night as well as by prolonging the wall by 5m to the East.


The City Hall

Rostock’s City Hall, by Darkone

The City Hall consists of three buildings which were constructed in the 13th century making it the oldest preserved secular building. Together with the city halls in Lübeck and Stralsund it is one of the most famous building of the redbrick Gothic Period found in the Baltic Sea region. Due to additional constructions and restructural efforts in the Baroque Age the medieval building is largely concealed today.

The district around the Petrikirche received its town charter in 1218 which probably meant that the old town featured a city hall at Rostock’s market square “Neuer Markt” by that time. After the three districts merged in 1265 the Neuer Markt became the unified city‘s new location for a common and larger city hall. In contrast to the building in Lübeck and Stralsund the city hall in Rostock doesn‘t form an ensemble with the city‘s main church St. Mary but is located further away from the “Marienkirche”. In 1419 the city hall was converted into the university‘s Auditorium Magnum.

The City Hall after World War II

It is situated at the Western end of the Shopping Mile „Kröpeliner Straße“. You can enjoy all these historical sights while strolling around the shopping mile since they all are in short distance. Neuer Mark is the central point from which you can see the City Hall, the Steintor, the city wall and St. Mary. Hope you have a wonderful sightseeing tour!

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