The state capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and second in the running for largest the fourth largest city in Germany, Schwerin is a delightful and picturesque place, surrounded by sparkling wrap around lakes. In fact, the city is also known fondly as Seven lakes, due to the number of lakes that make up the breeze ruffled waterscapes. Charismatic and striking, the city’s most famous sight – the Schwerin Castle is a definitive landmark dominating the skyline.
The unlikely sister town of Milwaukee in Wisconsin, Schwerin has seen many of their own residents moving over to the United States in the middle of the 1800s, not long after Schwerin was reinstated as the capital after the division of Mecklenburg state.
Map of Schwerin
The city long enjoyed a regal status as many Dukes and Duchesses resided there. Earlier drawings of the city indicate that their roots may go as far back as 965 AD – and fascinating stories of its charismatic past tell tales of mystery, romance, art and war.
Even though the Schwerin Castle is the only medieval site to have survived throughout the following centuries, there are a number of historical delights evident throughout the city showcasing some impressive 850 years of history. Winding cobbled streets, perfectly manicured lanes, lush natural surroundings, glorious galleries showcasing many works of art and a bustling cultural facet will surely astound the most discerning of travellers.
A visit to the Florence of the North, or the City of Seven Lakes, or Cathedral City, as it is variously known, is a sight to behold – full of excitement, culture and history.
Best Time to Go
The seasons in Germany offer a variety of different travel options that are absolutely fantastic 365 days of the year. The busiest season is summer – the months of June, July and August, when the weather is at its finest and visitors pour into the city. Also, around the end of the year, as the snow is thick and temperatures chilly, the weeks up to Christmas are busy as visitors flock to the city to enjoy the festivals and the Christmas markets.
With summer and Christmas as peak seasons, expect the prices of everything to reflect the same. If you are on a budget, and can’t face the long queues into all of the attractions, the hoards of people and the serious holiday prices, then you will be more suited to visiting during spring or fall. Fall is popular as the days are still nice and warm, but everybody who was visiting has already left. September is a wonderful month, unless you couldn’t bear to miss Oktoberfest the following month.
Winter temperatures often drop below freezing, so be sure that you are geared for the seriously cold weather. Summer daytime temperatures go up way into the 30°C (86°F) mark, and fall is known as their rainy season, so be prepared for frequent rain showers. No matter what, Schwerin won’t disappoint – whether you have packed your snow skis or flip flops.
Getting Around in Schwerin
Many people will tell you that the easiest way to get around the city is by foot. There are lots of trams and busses throughout the city as another option, and you can download maps for the transport and the famous sights right off the tourist website and plan where you want to go.
The main attractions of Schwerin are quite close together and you can hop off a tram and walk down the parks and lakes. Everything is beautiful and it is worth taking a quiet amble along the river side.
Cycling is also another popular way to see the sights of the city, and there are lots of demarcated paths, along rivers, rolling green fields, through quaint Mecklenburg villages with nothing but the call of the birds and the trickling river beside you. You can book a cycling tour or hire bicycles; the friendly staff at the Tourist Info Centre will help you find everything you need.
Major Attractions and Sites
The Schwerin Castle and Park– Not known as the jewel of Lake Schwerin for nothing, the Schwerin Castle is without a doubt the city’s most iconic landmark. Having survived through centuries and wars, whilst still standing tall and regal, the majestic castle is perched on the river’s edge, its incredible reflection back at her in the sparkling waters below. The architecture of the castle has somewhat of a fairy tale theme – a fortress of elegance, romance and delicacy with numerous turrets, vaults and multiple annexes.
With evidence suggesting that the castle has roots as far back as 965, it was once the residence for many Dukes and Duchesses in its royal time. The surrounding parklands are a big part of the dramatic attraction with manicured gardens sweeping across as far as the eye can see. A legacy of one of the world’s most powerful royal empires, the castle is a must see – it would be sacrilege not to – when visiting Schwerin.
The State Museum is the largest art gallery in all of Mecklenburg state. What was once planned as a palace home for a grand Duke, the unfinished building was transformed and completed by an architect who had a passion for art. It’s now home to the largest collection of Dutch art anywhere in Europe – see Hals, Rembrandt, Rubens and many more.
The State Theater of Mecklenburg stands right next to the State Museum on the square of the Alter Garten. A stunning example of Italian Renaissance design, the theater took 3 years to complete. It’s now the glorious venue for drama, ballet, musicals and German festivals and culture – performance are very much part of German culture.
The Cathedral and Market Square is enveloped by the Rathaus – the gothic/tudor style town hall and Lowendenkmal – the Lion Monument, which stands as reminders of the city’s historic past. The cathedral is the oldest building in the city, however sadly is not all original as many parts had to be rebuilt. But, the Paradiespforte – the Gate to Paradise, is completely original and preserved and the oldest part of the cathedral itself. There are some of the most incredible views of the city from the platform here.
The “Schelfstadt” was originally the brain child of Duke Friedrich Wilhelm way back in 1705. He commissioned this ‘New Town’ to be built, in the hope that it would attract craftsmen and merchants to come and settle here. But it only became part of the city in the middle of the 1800s. Stunning timber houses, charming cobbled streets, a baroque church, cultural centre and many historical buildings are just some of the things to be experienced here.
The Alter Garden Square is located right opposite the palace island and used to be the fruit orchards and vegetable garden for the Duke. Without question the square is the most beautiful and dramatic area in Schwerin – surrounded by the State Museum, the Theater of Mecklengburg, the old palais and the Kollegiengebaude – all 19th century buildings and all with the resplendent backdrop of the palace and the lake.
Lake Pfaffenteich can be found right in the heart of the city. You can take tours of the lake on the Petermannchen ferry or meander along the lime tree boulevard visiting historic places like Demmler’s Home, the Arsenal, the Kuken House, and if you are there at the right time of the year, experience the Alstadtfest and the Dragon Boat Races.