Wismar is a small port and Hanseatic League town in northern Germany on the Baltic Sea, in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, about 45 km due east of Lübeck, and 30 km due north of Schwerin. Its natural harbour, located in the Bay of Wismar is well-protected by a promontory. The population was 45,414 in March 2005, more than doubled from 21,902 in 1905. Representative of Hanseatic League city brick construction as well as the German brick churches, the city has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 2002. The town was the setting of the 1922 vampire movie Nosferatu (in the film however, the town is named “Wisborg”).
The centre of the old town is the huge Market Place, the largest in Germany (10,000 square metres), surrounded by elegant buildings with styles ranging from 14th-century North German Gothic to 19th-century Romanesque revival. The square’s focal point is the Wasserkunst, an elaborate wrought-iron fountain imported from Holland in 1602. The northern side of the square is occupied by the Town Hall, built in neoclassical style in 1817–1819. Another notable building in the square is an ancient Gothic warehouse called Alter Schwede (The Old Swede), erected around 1380. The 80 m high tower church of St Mary (Marienkirche) is the only remainder of the original Brick Gothic edifice, built in the first half of the 13th century. It suffered heavy damage in World War II, and was deliberately destroyed in 1960 under the East German Communist government. The church of St Nicholas (Nikolaikirche), built in 1381–1460, with very lofty vaulting, together with the Marienkirche, are regarded as good examples of the influence exercised in these northern provinces by the large church of St Mary in Lübeck. The elegant cruciform church of St George (St Georgen-Kirche) dates from the first half of the 13th century.
It was heavily damaged in World War II and repaired during 1990-2010. The Fürstenhof, at one time a ducal residence, and later occupied by the municipal authorities, is a richly decorated specimen of the Italian early Renaissance style. Built in 1552–1565, it was restored in 1877–1879. The “Old School”, dating from about 1300, has been restored. The town hall, rebuilt in 1829, contains a collection of pictures. The main gallery for fine arts is the Municipal Gallery “Baumhaus” located in the old harbour area of Wismar.
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