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Wismer, A Hanseatic Thanksgiving

November 23 - 27, 2005



Dear Friends and Families,


On our Thanksgiving break, we visited two German towns that proclaimed themselves as "Hanseatic Cities": Wismer and Stralsund. For Stralsund, we added study text but for Wismer we'll let the story go along with the pictures.

John and Marianne


Our pattern on hitting new towns is generally the same: head to "the center". Wismer's center square, reportedly the largest in Germany at 10,000 square meters, was just being set up with the almost-obligatory Christmas Market.

The next step, is finding a hotel. In this case, we opted for the Hotel Reuterhaus, right on the square. Next door was the "Alter Schwede" building, one of the oldest in town, built in about 1380.


After a place to stay, we need to find a bite to eat. Of course, with a Christmas Market just outside our window, we had choices! This barbeque was good for our snack.


After lunch, we look for tourist things, and almost always find a church or two. In this case, it was Holy Spirit Church and Hospital. It was founded in the mid-13th Century and rebuilt a number of times since then.

The ceiling was particularly ornate, but was apparently largely reproduction dating from post WWII reconstruction.

We could imagine pulling bits and pieces, such as this 16th Century pew, from bombed ruble. Hopefully that part of European history is over.


Further along our church route was the 80 meter (250 feet) high St. Mary's church tower. During Wismer's Swedish period of the mid-17th Century, Major General Wrangel installed the 5 meter clock atop the tower. This church, too, was destroyed in WWII and only the tower has so far been restored.

Our final church was St. George's, started in the 13th Century, completed in 1594, destroyed in WWII, and under reconstruction since 1990. On this visit, we missed opening hours by a few minutes, but that leaves a reason to return.

Another of the oldest houses, this was the archdioceses house. built around 1450

But not all the buildings were ancient, nor were all the new buildings uninteresting. Some of the recent reconstruction had managed to give a very modern face to structures yet seemed to fit comfortably with their elder neighbors.


Meanwhile, back at the square, the Wismer Christmas Market and the official Christmas Season were being opened by Santa Claus and a Snowman throwing candy from the City Hall balcony. (This same Snowman was popular in Kiev -- must be a Soviet thing.)



Then, we needed another pass through the Market itself. One our favorites was Finnish Army veterans serving crepes in a tent. Well, they said they were crepes, but they seemed a bit like Moose hides. No matter, the servers were the friendliest folks around and were fun to chat with, in original versions of both English and German.
The night scene in Wismer was not exciting, but it was somehow exactly what we were looking for on this Thanksgiving Day weekend. It was nice of Wismer to celebrate it with us.  

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