The old city of Wismar was one of the original three sea-trading towns, along with Lübeck and Rostock, which banded together in 1259 to combat Baltic pirates. From this mutual defense pact grew the great and powerful private-trading bloc, the Hanseatic League (the Hanse in German), which dominated the Baltic for centuries. The wealth generated by the Hanseatic merchants can still be seen in Wismar's ornate architecture.
Regarded as one of the most attractive, authentic taverns on the Baltic—and correspondingly busy—this eatery focuses on Mecklenburg's game and poultry dishes, such as the traditional Mecklenburger Ente (Mecklenburg duck). This filling dish is filled with baked plums, apples, raisins, and served with red cabbage and potatoes.
Brauhaus am Lohberg
Wismar's first brewery (1452) is the only place that still brews Wismarer Mumme a dark beer with enough alcohol to keep it fresh for export as far away as St. Petersburg. The restaurant serves up good-value typical pub food in an old half-timber house near the harbor.
If you have an hour to spare, wander among the jetties and quays of the port, a mix of the medieval and the modern. To'n Zägenkrog, a seamen's haven decorated with sharks' teeth, stuffed seagulls, and maritime gear, is a good pit stop along the harbor.
The late-Gothic church, with a 120-foot-high nave, was built between 1381 and 1487. A remnant of the town's long domination by Sweden is the additional altar built for Swedish sailors.
St. Georgen zu Wismar
This church, another victim of the war, stands next to the Fürstenhof. One of northern Germany's biggest Gothic churches, built between 1315 and 1404, it has been almost completely restored.
The home of the former dukes of Mecklenburg stands next to the Marienkirche. It's an early-16th-century Italian Renaissance palace with touches of late Gothic. The facade is a series of fussy friezes depicting scenes from the Trojan War.
One of the largest and best preserved squares in Germany is framed by patrician gabled houses. Their style ranges from redbrick late Gothic through Dutch Renaissance to 19th-century neoclassical. The square's Wasserkunst, the ornate pumping station built in Dutch Renaissance style, was constructed between 1580 and 1602 by the Dutch master Philipp Brandin.
The ruins of this church with its 250-foot tower, bombed in World War II, lie just behind the Marktplatz; the church is still undergoing restoration. At noon, 3, and 5, listen for one of 14 hymns played on its carillon.