Stralsund

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The historic Stralsund old town island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The historic Stralsund old town island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Stralsund  is a Hanseatic town in the Pomeranian part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

It is located at the Southern coast of the Strelasund, a sound of the Baltic Sea separating the island of Rugen from the mainland. The Strelasund Crossing with its two bridges and several ferry services connects Stralsund with Rugen. The Western Pomeranian town has been the capital of the Vorpommern-Rugen district since the 2011 district reforms. It is the fourth-largest city of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and, together with Greifswald, Stralsund forms an Oberzentrum, one of four high-level urban centers of the region.

Stralsund was granted city rights in 1234 and was one of the most prospering members of the medieval Hanseatic League. In 1628, during the Thirty Years’ War, Stralsund came under Swedish rule and remained so until the upheavals of the Napoleonic Wars. In the 19th century it became part of Prussia and Germany. Since 2002, Stralsund’s old town with its rich heritage is honored as a UNESCO World Heritage, along with Wismar in Mecklenburg.

The main industries of Stralsund are shipyards, fishing, mechanical engineering, and, to an increasing degree, tourism, life sciences, services and high tech industries, especially IT (Information Technology) and biotechnology. Location :  The town of Stralsund is located in northeastern Germany in the region of Western Pomerania in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

History : In the Middle Ages the Stralsund area formed part of the West Slavic Principality of Rugen. At that time the Danholm isle and fishing village, both at the site of the latter town, were called Strale or  Stralow, Polabian for “arrow” (this meaning underlies the town’s coat of arms, which shows an arrow). The full Polabian name is Strzalow. The village also had a ferry to the island of Rugen. In 1168 the Principality of Rugen became part of Kingdom of Denmark.

In the course of German Ostsiedlung, many German settlers, gentry and merchants were invited to settle in the principality, and they eventually populated the Strale settlement. Merchants from other countries as well as locals were attracted to the area and made up one third of the town’s population. The Danish navy used the isle as well. When the settlement had grown to town size, prince Wizlaw I of Rugen granted Lubeck law to “our town Stralow” in 1234, although a significant settlement had existed long before the formal founding. In 1240, when the prince gave additional land to the town, he called it Stralesund.
The success of the settlement challenged the powerful Free City of Lubeck, which burnt Stralsund down in 1249. Afterwards the town was rebuilt with a massive town wall having 11 town gates and 30 watchtowers. The Neustadt, a town-like suburb, had merged with Stralsund by 1361. Schadegard, a nearby twin town to Stralsund also founded by Wizlaw I, though not granted German law, served as the principal stronghold and enclosed a fort. It was given up and torn down by 1269 under pressure from the Stralsund Burger. In 1293 Stralsund became a member of the Hanseatic League. A total of 300 ships flying the flag of Stralsund cruised the Baltic Sea in the 14th century. In 1325 the Principality of Rugen became part of the Duchy of Pomerania, Stralsund however maintained a considerable independence.

In the 17th century opposing forces in the Thirty Years’ War fought over Stralsund. In the Battle of Stralsund (1628), the Imperial (Catholic) forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein besieged the town after the council refused to accept the Capitulation of Franzburg  of November 1627. Stralsund resisted with Danish and Swedish support.The Swedish garrison in Stralsund was the first on German soil in history. With the Treaty of Stettin (1630), the town became one of two major Swedish forts in the Duchy of Pomerania, alongside Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland).

After the war, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and the Treaty of Stettin (1653) made Stralsund part of Swedish Pomerania. Lost to Brandenburg in the Battle of Stralsund (1678), it reverted to Sweden in the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1679). In the Great Northern War in 1715 Charles XII led the defence of Stralsund for a year against the united European armies. Stralsund remained under Swedish control until the Battle of Stralsund (1807), when Napoleon Bonaparte’s army occupied it. Seized by Ferdinand von Schill’s freikorps in 1809, it subsequently reverted to French control, with Schill killed in action. With the Congress of Vienna (1815), Stralsund became a part of the Prussian Province of Pomerania and the seat of a government region resembling the former Swedish Pomerania
Following the First World War Stralsund suffered the same sort of political unrest and unemployment that afflicted much of Germany.

After German reunification in 1990, the city’s historic old town was thoroughly restored, and Communist-era apartment blocks were renovated and upgraded. In 2002 the old towns of Stralsund and Wismar, some 120 km to the west, were listed as UNESCO world heritage sites. Stralsund’s shipyard was privatized, and thereafter specialized in constructing container ships.

Access : Coordinates : 54.3, 13.083333 / Stralsund is linked to the A20 motorway (towards Berlin and Hamburg), via the B96n dual-carriageway. Other major roads include the B105 (beginning in the town centre and continuing to Rostock) and the B96 (major road to Rugen) and the B194 to the town of Grimmen. Stralsund Hauptbahnhof is on the line to Berlin, Rostock, Pasewalk and Bergen. When travelling by air, passengers usually do so via Rostock-Laage Airport with connecting flights from Munich. A small airport, Stralsund Barth Airport, also serves the city locally. Town buses are run by SWS (Stadtwerke Stralsund)

Highlights :

  • The historic Stralsund old town island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features many valuable remnants of the Hanseatic time, Brick Gothic, renaissance , baroque, historicist and Jugendstil buildings.
  • The heart of the old town is the Old Market Square (Alter Markt), with the Gothic Town Hall (13th century).
  • The Jakobikirche (Saint James’s Church) , The Marienkirche (Saint Mary’s Church), built in 1383–1473 , The Johanniskloster (Franciscan monastery built in 1254) , Stralsund Museum, Monchstrasse 25-28 , World Heritage Exhibition Oceanographic Museum ,

Activities : sightseeing / photo opportunities / trekking

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