Stralsund – World Heritage Site
In the deutschland.de-series My City, Town Hall chiefs reveal their insider’s tips about their city. Part 37: Dr. Alexander Badrow, Mayor of Stralsund.
Mr Badrow, what is special about your city?
Even from a distance, Stralsund looks like a place that is conscious of its strength and beauty. Like lighthouses, the Mighty, the Glorious and the Slight, the nicknames of our three Brick Gothic queens St Mary’s, St Nicholas’ and St Jacob’s, rise up into the Baltic sky.
But also anyone on the way to Germany’s largest island, Rügen, can’t fail to catch sight of our proud Hanseatic city, driving directly towards its beautiful silhouette. This has impressed not only visitors and residents of the city but also experts: since 2002 Stralsund’s Historic Centre, together with that of Wismar, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And since this summer, a state-approved resort.
The best is that the legacy of the Hansa on the West Pomeranian Baltic coast lies less than three hours from Berlin or Hamburg.
What do you see when you look out your office window?
My window is directly above the Stralsund municipal coasts of arms from the time of Swedish rule that adorns the Buttergang through our Town Hall. Where in the Middle Ages merchants used to sell their wares, today’s traders offer theirs. So what I see is a pulsating pedestrian zone with shops, gabled houses and happy people.
Where do you like to go in your city?
The first place that occurs to me is our Baltic Coast Bikeway, a combined bike and footpath along the shoreline that goes from the northern to the southern end of the city and beyond. On the way you can take a break at the new bathing beach or stroll over the harbour island to the Gorch Fock and the OZEANEUM.
And in the Town Hall. Not only because it’s my workplace, but also because it’s one of the most magnificent buildings in the Baltic Sea region. It’s an architectural masterpiece of the Middle Ages. That calls for a whole lot of respect when you consider that it was built 700 years ago, before computers or other tools that are common today. A tremendous achievement, which still holds up today and whose legacy we take good care of.
Which figure from your city do you esteem most?
My esteem goes to each and every person who is enthusiastic about our city and feels jointly responsible for it. The road mender as well as the barkeeper and baker, the shipyard worker and the craftsman. And the architect who boldly links modern buildings with historical ones. And of course every dedicated volunteer.
I’m grateful to the Stralsunders for their hospitality and willingness to give tips and directions to enthusiastic visitors - to museums and delicious fish restaurants.
As a special personality, I’d like to mention my predecessor in office, Harald Lastovka. It was he who, after May 1990, guided the city through the turmoil of the post-Wall period. Whoever comes to Stralsund today will discover many things we owe to his courage and his determination.
What place would you like to show tourists?
Oh, there are quite a few! To see all of them would take more than one visit – to experience the annual summer Wednesday’s regatta from the Nordmole marina is at least as exciting as the wonder of Christmas in the cellar of the Town Hall with its decorated vaulted ceiling. And in addition to the three S’s - Strand, Strelasund and Stralsund Museum [i.e. beach, Strela Sound and Stralsund Museum] – it’s often the dreamy courtyards and enchanted cloisters in the Historic Centre that take us into the history and story of the city.
Where can you get to know the people of your city best?
Certainly at our festivals, like the maritime Harbour Festival in June, the historical Wallenstein Festival in July and the Long Night of Open Monuments in September. But also by fishing and sailing; Stralsund is a seaside city.
“Auf 'n lütten Schnack” [for a little chat], as we say here, people like to meet at the weekly market or in Hanni’s Harbour Pub – a great little place and just the spot after a busy day.
And where do you like to spend your holidays?
Holidays? What’s that? But seriously, if time permits, we go to the Erz Mountains. I come from there and have family and friends there.
Otherwise, I simply like to remain in the region. Take part in the Rügen Bridge Run and Sund Swimming Contest. Run in the Ironman on Rügen and relax on the beach. Why cross the Seven Seas when the best is so close?