WHY CHOOSING ROSTOCK OVER BERLIN
Pier 7 in Warnemünde has become one of the docking stations in Germany for a number of major international cruise ships having a Baltic Cruise Trip, including the ship we took, Princess Cruise. Spending only 8 hours in Warnemünde, my family and I found out that the best deal was to explore 2 places on the same day, which were Warnemünde itself and Rostock. Since they are not big cities, it was doable to do so.
In fact, Warnemünde station has a direct train to Rostock that only takes 20 minutes journey, situated 5 minutes walking distance from Pier 7. Therefore, I didn’t see the point of visiting Berlin, the closest big city from Warnemünde, although it’s a wonderful destination. The 6 hour journey round trip to Berlin was the main reason why it was not a wise choice. Remember, we only had 8 hours in total!
As mentioned in the previous post, we came to a conclusion that it would be better to visit Rostock in the first place as soon as we arrived in Warnemünde and explored Warnemünde later on after returning from Rostock.
Rostock is the biggest city in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state in the north side of Germany situated on the Warnow river and a getaway to Scandinavian countries and Baltic Sea, especially it owns the autonomy of the seaside district Warnemünde since 1323. The name Rostock derived from Roztoc, meaning fork of river, when Polabian Slavs found a settlement at the Warnow river in 11th century.
To maximize the 4 hour trip, where the other 4 was for Warnemünde, we created our own version of self-guided tour that allowed us to visit the following places of interest:
ST. MARY’S CHURCH
Walking down the street from Rostock Station, Marienkirche or St. Mary’s Church stood out compared to other buildings nearby. We followed what our hearts said, instead of map, and quickly decided that it was the first attraction to visit.
St. Mary’s Church is the biggest church in Rostock build in 1232, then modified into a three-nave hall design. In 1398, the façade was added with 2 different tones of brick stone, red and green-brown, defining the present appearance people see nowadays. The brick stone Gothic building is a signature style of the Hanseatic port cities in North Germany.
Every craftsmanship detail in the church never failed to mesmerize me no matter how many times I’ve been to churches in Europe, from the Renaissance / Baroque pulpit, the altar, the 13th century astronomical clock created by Hans Düringer, the tapestry, the 18th century organ, to stained glass windows. I didn’t capture some of them with my old camera, though, since its quality started to decline along with more visible noise, especially for macro shots. Nonetheless, I was happy to indulge my naked eyes with priceless masterpieces inside.
The weather outside the church was something too good to be missed with refreshing breeze and sun without rain. So, we continued our own version of walking tour to the heart of Rostock. Kröpeliner Strasse is the main shopping street in Rostock, a vibrant melting pot between locals and foreigners, offering fashion, beauty, electronic goods, cafes and some necessities, too, from supermarkets, banks to drug stores.
Strolling along the street seeing colourful gabled houses with multiple architecture styles, such baroque, classicism, and historicism was a pleasant activity, even if it didn’t include shopping at all. Moreover, they are example of surviving historical buildings in Rostock, where many other medieval buildings in the city are already destroyed. Somehow, the shape of the gabled houses reminds me of those in The Netherlands.
Approximately 30 minutes walking distance Kröpeliner Strasse, University Square or Universitätsplatz showed a different side of Rostock apart from being a stopover for Baltic Cruise passengers with the presence of Rostock University as the limelight of the square.
The majestic building of the university caught our attention with its red brick domination façade, decorated with impressive engraving and sculptures. Rostock University is the 3rd oldest university in Germany founded in 1419, offering various majors in scientific field.
Having about 14,000 students nowadays, the studies are conducted in German and English for postgraduate programs. There were 5 graduate students from the university who received Nobel prize in 600 years since its establishment. Albert Einstein earned his honorary doctorate in 1919 in Rostock University, but it was annulled during the reign of Nazi.
The Joy of Life fountain outside the university spices up the university surroundings and becomes an attraction for visitors. Created in 1980 by Jo Jastram and Reinhard Dietrich, its main concept is the end of World War II and the city rebirth. Thanks to the naked human figures in erotic positions, it gains a nickname as the Porn Fountain.
The biggest sculpture in front of the fountain is actually a bench, where a lot of people like to seat and take a picture on it.
NEW MARKET SQUARE AND TOWN HALL
Our visit to New Market Square, whose main landmark is Rostock Town Hall, marked the end of our brief exploration in the Hanseatic City of Rostock. Rostock Town Hal it the oldest Town Hall in brick Gothic architecture in Germany build in 1270 and once used as a store during the middle ages. Only in the 18th century did the building was transformed into a Baroque style, added with the 7 towers behind it, representing the 7 Baltic countries.
Although the town hall still functions as administrative headquarters, it would be lovely to see further what’s inside if we had time, the interior hall, the prison and the torture chamber. There’s a German restaurant in front of the town hall as well, named Ratskeller 21, that seemed like a cozy place to hang out.
We also skimmed the markets at the square mostly selling fresh fruits and veggies. I believe they would be more suitable for locals’ grocery than souvenirs for tourists like us. Moreover, the unlimited amount of food at the ship didn’t allow our stomach to accommodate any more food from outside.
That’s a wrap for our trip to Rostock. It was a nice city to walk with save environment and not too crowded. In 4 hours, I’d rather visit a smaller city with no rush than a bigger one in hustling and bustling environment for a couple of hours, while complaining that there are too many great places but no time to explore.