Sunday, 24 May 2009

Schwerin - Fairytale Castle, Lakes, and a Mischevious Spirit

A few weeks back (2nd May to be exact) we went with a group of friends to Schwerin, nearly three hours journey by Regional Express North-West of Berlin and just shy of being on the Baltic Coast.

Since unification, Schwerin has been state capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (that's the Land north of Brandenburg) and consequently a lot of Geld has been poured into it to restore its attractive, neo-classical and Gothic buildings, which were somewhat neglected during DDR days. Most impressive amongst the architecture is definitely Schweriner Schloss (Schwerin Castle), once the fortress residence of the Dukes of Mecklenburg, and now the seat of the Bundesland Parliament.

At the time we visited (and until October 2009) a lot of the Schloss gardens were given over to the very large BUGA 2009, which isn't a term of abuse but is a shortening of Bundesgartenschau, i.e. it is like the UK's Chelsea Garden Show, but is much larger, goes on for much longer, and is far less pretentious. Or so we imagine; at sixteen Euro to get in we didn't really want to spend the day going 'Ooh look, there's some nice flowers. And some more nice flowers. And some more. And some more ...'

Besides, there was plenty to see otherwise. Even getting off the train, the visitor is greeted with an impressive, pristine square dominated by a fountain.

The sculptures making up the fountain seem to depict a pair of naked figures, possibly of a sailor heaving a drowned woman off of the rocks, but who knows, meanwhile being squirted at by four sealions. The significance of this is lost on me, but the watery theme is apt for a small city built on a number of lakes and islands. Here is Schwerin Cathedral seen across the Pfaffenteich:

And here's a heron admiring the same scene:
This is the Innenministerium/Arsenal across the Pfaffenteich:

It is a short walk from the Pfaffenteich to the Market Place lying at the feet of the Gothic cathedral, with its elegent collonades and lion column:

Walking down the hill from Am Markt to Burgsee, you get your first glimpse of the castle:

This area of town, called Alter Garten, has some impressive buildings and sculpture, such as the Staatliches Museum Schwerin (State Art Museum):

Also the Staatstheater (State Theatre):

and some column or other (I really must get a guide book!): - edit: my Better Half tells me it is a Siegesäule (Victory Column), probably commemorating the Franco-Prussian war. If she says so; I'll bow to her superior knowledge!

But it is the Castle on its own island set in the beautiful Burgsee which steals the show:

Even the ducks agree!

Now I'd like to publish some sumptious photos of the gorgeous gardens and madly-baroque architect of the Schloss. I'd like to, but can't because the battery on my camera packed in. You never had this problem with Kodak Brownies! So much for progress. Personally I blame this little chap, who you see everywhere in Schwerin, not least because he lends his name to the Rundfahrt bus trips and line of sight-seeing boats on the lakes. He is called Petermännchen and is apparently the household spirit of the castle, protecting it from intruders and thieves, and waking night watchmen soldiers who fall asleep on duty. And messing up people's cameras!

Despite the time taken to travel there, the Schwerin day-trip was well worth it, and especially enjoyable when you are in a good company of friends (The TT Berlin Photographers Group), including husky dog!

1 comment:

  1. Schwerin is such a lovely little town. We go at least once a year and enjoy it thoroughly. This year's BUGA is probably making it more crowded, which is a shame.


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