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How Schwerin wants to outdo Neuschwanstein Castle

Hello - that's how you can greet each other in Mecklenburg, but you don't have to.

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How Schwerin wants to outdo Neuschwanstein Castle

Hello - that's how you can greet each other in Mecklenburg, but you don't have to. A hello or a nod is enough. If there were a ranking of taciturn northerners, the people of Mecklenburg would undoubtedly be at the top, ahead of the people of Schleswig in the north-west and the people of Pomerania in the east.

Since 1945 (with the exception of the years between 1952 and 1990), Mecklenburg has formed a federal state with the latter, Western Pomerania. Which is unfounded from a historical point of view, because both parts of the country have their own history. Mecklenburg was ruled from 1131 to 1918 by one and the same noble family, the House of Mecklenburg (at times there were two duchies, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz, which were united to form the Grand Duchy in 1815).

At that time, the people of Mecklenburg were also considered to be a particularly stubborn breed of people who were "carousing and hunting, slow-paced and affable", according to Heinrich von Treitschke, a historian of the 19th century. This zest for life may also explain why the first German seaside resort was founded in Mäkelborg, as the country is called in Plattdüütsch. In 1793 the dukes built a summer residence in Doberan-Heiligendamm, today's "Grand Hotel Heiligendamm"; In 2007, the G8 summit was held in the “White City by the Sea”.

There is also neoclassical spa architecture in (formerly Prussian) Western Pomerania. But Mecklenburg's coast is (still) more unspoilt and - on the Priwall peninsula on the former inner-German border - more unspoilt. This also applies to many sparsely populated regions in the hinterland, such as the 32,000 hectare Müritz National Park with 108 lakes and thousands of kilometers of watercourses.

2024 could be a big year for Mecklenburg. Because the Schwerin Castle should be on the World Heritage List. Once a simple castle complex, it was rebuilt from 1844 to 1857 in the style of romantic historicism. Neuschwanstein was only about to be completed 30 years later, which is why the people of Schwerin don't like hearing their castle called the "Neuschwanstein of the North".

Especially since Bavaria's historic building is also on the list of candidates for 2024. The competition is taken seriously in the north; This perhaps explains the most recent change in the Schwerin World Heritage application: In addition to the palace, it now contains other magnificent buildings and has the new title "Grown Residence Ensemble".

"Tuuut" - when the signal sounds, the hunt is on: the captain turns the cutter alongside into the wind and the anglers throw out the pirks, small metal fish with holographic 3D eyes that look lifelike in the water. They are said to attract "leopard seals", as the cod are called because of their marbling. Whiting is also fished from the boat; especially in late autumn when the fish are looking for food near the coast.

To protect the stocks, one cod and one salmon per angler and day is currently allowed, but there is no catch quota for flatfish. If you want to try your luck at deep sea fishing, you will find tour operators for various boats between Wismar and Warnemünde, from barges to cutters.

Plaice on the décolleté, rays on the ear, salmon on the wrist: In Wismar, tourists will find unusual maritime jewelry. Germany's first Fischleder concept store opened there in 2019.

Blue, red, green and yellow - skins in countless colors hang on the walls of the showroom, waiting to be fashioned into earrings, necklaces, cufflinks and bracelets by the designer Ramona Stelzer. Filigree settings made of gold and silver frame the leather and emphasize its uniqueness.

Only the scale structure is reminiscent of the previous owners of the skins. And sometimes not, because some species such as rays or sturgeon do not have scales. Whether smooth, ribbed or scaly - each leather is unique with an unusual look.

And the smell? There is none, assures the young woman: "Through tanning, the hides lose the typical fishy smell and become as soft and elastic as leather from cattle and pigs." Stelzer has to get her material from Bavaria. A Nanaj immigrant from eastern Siberia has revived the ancient tanning trade there.

The Tollensesee near Neubrandenburg is 32 meters deep. The body of water belonging to the Mecklenburg Lake District enjoys a special reputation among divers. Because the lake, eleven kilometers long and up to 2.5 kilometers wide, contains the remains of a torpedo testing facility from 1942.

The command center built on a concrete base in the lake was partially blown up after the end of the war, was a restricted area until 1990 and is now a bird sanctuary. An idyll that presents itself to divers deep below the waterline as a martial lost place; they report “a jumble of technical equipment, wrecks and rocket parts”.

Since the debris island is not accessible and can only be dived with a guide, this side of Lake Tollense remains hidden from tourists. For them it is beautiful bathing water.

"When the world ends, I'll move to Mecklenburg, because everything happens there 50 years later"

The quip is attributed to Otto von Bismarck. This cannot be proven without a doubt, but it is undisputed that Mecklenburg was politically backward during the lifetime of the Imperial Chancellor (1815-1898). The Grand Duchy still had a representation of estates, in which noble owners of manorial estates dominated; this feudal system lasted until 1918. Two years later, Mecklenburg received its first democratic constitution.

Bizarre, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.

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