Germany is a federal republic divided into 16 states. These states are called Bundesland(pl. Bundesländer) and each one of them has their fair share of places to visit and things to do. This series of posts titled “States of Germany” seeks to explore each state one by one and tell you a little bit about them. Feel free to post about things I have missed out on.
Last time we explored the German federal states state of Schleswig-Holstein. This week, we will check out the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It holds the honor of being the first state I talk about which used to be part of the country formerly known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Yes, my blog is a status symbol now, deal with it. Needless to say, the GDR was quite undemocratic for a democratic republic. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – I will hereby refer to it the German way by calling it Meck-Pomm – has one of the coolest state coat of arms; Harry Potter fans will appreciate this one specially. The coat of arms is divided into four parts: two parts make up the bull’s head of Mecklenburg on a field of yellow, and one part each is composed of the griffin of Pomerania and the eagle of Brandenburg to which the state has historical affiliations on fields of white. Very cool.
Meck-Pomm stretches from the Baltic Sea in the north to the forest and lake region in the south and contains diverse nature. With a population of just under 1.6 million, Meck-Pomm is definitely one of Germany’s more sparsely populated states. The state capital is Schwerin and the largest city is Rostock, which was a major port in the GDR and remains quite important today as well. The state also has islands along the Baltic coast in its domain which enhance nature tourism. The state of Meck-Pomm was largely split up administratively during the GDR but was reconstituted just before German reunification in 1990.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania can be roughly divided into six regions. Just east of the border to Schleswig-Holstein and along the Baltic coast, begins the
Mecklenburgische Ostseeküste or the Mecklenburg Baltic Sea Coast. This part includes the city of Rostock which is an important port in Germany and the point of departure for many cruise ships covering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea routes specially. Rostock is also famous for its university which is one of the oldest in the world and for being a Hanseatic City. Naturally, being on an important trade route on the Baltic Sea, gave Rostock an easy entry into the Hanseatic League. More than worth a mention in this region is also the city of Wismar which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and should definitely included on your list of places to go see. The beautiful and picturesque Schwerin Castle is also in this region. Further inland, lies the Ludwigslust Castle and the historic city of Parchim.
Continuing along the Baltic coast, we come across the Fischland-Darss-Zingst region which is famous for the pretty city of Stralsund, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town has a distinct Nordic feel to it, and is a special treat to visit in the summer and spring time. The Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park is also located in this region on an island off the coast. As you might have gathered by now, there’s a lot of sightseeing to be done in Meck-Pomm. For those interested in politics, this region is also home to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s constituency.
We now move to the island region of Rügen, which is Germany’s largest island by area. Although Rügen is famous as being a tourist hotspot for its great nature, it is famed for its chalk cliffs which are situated in the Jasmund National Park. To the south of Rügen is another island region, called Usedom. Usedom is split between Germany and Poland. There are many baths and spas on the island. But the island’s claim to fame lies in being the sunniest place in Germany with an annual average of 1,906 sunshine hours per year. Consequently, it is also Poland’s most sunniest place as well.
Moving inland, we encounter the Vorpommersche Flusslandschaft which is river country. The rivers flowing through this region eventually end in the Baltic Sea and give the region its greenery. The Uckermark region which straddles Meck-Pomm and Brandenburg starts here. To the south-east of this region is the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte which is the Lake Region of the state. Lake Müritz is a very famous lake in this region. But, if you go there, don’t just stick to the bigger lakes; explore and you will find many a stunningly pretty lake tucked away where you least expect. Someone I know will be moving to a place near this region and the lakes are a big part of the attraction for her.
As you must have noticed by now, the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is full of natural wonders. Here, as always, is a list of things to do while there:
- Visit the Schwerin and Ludwigslust Castles, two of Germany’s most beautiful.
Enjoy a day at the beach and a distinct island atmosphere on the Hiddensee.
- Have a laid back weekend at the Kühlungsbad Seaside Resort.
- See the wonderful chalk cliffs on the island of Rügen. Beware: do not walk too close to the edge!
- Have a day out in the cities of Wismar and Stralsund. Enjoy the historic atmosphere in both cities.
Watch the sunrise from the pier in Sellin.
- Discover the Lake District of Mecklenburgische Seenplatte for yourself and find your favorite lake.
- Visit the Störtebecker Festspiele which is Germany’s biggest open air theater event.