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Wismar – a hanseatic town

The diverse and exciting history of Wismar, and what makes it so attractive

Ever since its foundation more than 700 years ago, Wismar has been a place of maritime trade and an important harbour in Mecklenburg. Proof of this is a coat of arms traced back to 1256, showing a cog, as a symbol of the shipping trade, and the bull's head, the symbol of Mecklenburg. However, Wismar never failed to maintain a status of independence against the authorities in the region.

Wismar as an important member of the Hanseatic League

In 1259, a triple alliance was formed between Lübeck, Rostock and Wismar, ensuring safe transport and trading at sea and on land and protection from pirates.
Before long the harbour and the shipping and trading industries in Wismar were booming. Important trading goods included wine from Spain, Italy and France, animal skins and wood from Russia, furs from Norway, fabrics, silk and cotton, but in particular fish, spices, wax, malt and salt. The trading industry on the Baltic and on the mainland begin to flourish, making Wismar a wealthy town and powerful within the Hanse. Proof of this era of economic prestige can be seen, even now, all around the town: mighty churches, built in the impressive red-brick gothic style, the ancient town walls which give way to the old water gate, medieval residences, the Wasserkunst on the market square, which, built in 1602, served as an impressive and artistic alternative to an ordinary well. However, in the 16th century the importance of the Hanse began to diminish, giving way to a new power in northern Europe- the Swedish Empire.