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Greifswald is one of the most important cities along the European Route of Brick Gothic. It links cities along the Baltic Sea and inland from Denmark over Germany to Poland, which are characterised by the shared cultural heritage of Brick Gothic buildings. Get to know all nine of them on the circular trail through Greifswald.
Hilda Abbey was founded in 1199 by the Cistercian monks, later called Eldena Abbey, south of the Ryck estuary. It is considered to be the birth-place of Greifswald city.
The monastery crumbled into ruins after the Reformation in 1533. The stones were removed for municipal building projects during the Swedish era. Just a few fragments remained from the building complex of the once impressive monastery. These include the west wall and several columns from the centre nave. The huge lancet window juts out between the trees like a huge archway. The grounds were designed as a park based on plans by the landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné (1789 – 1866). The ruin is a setting for theatre performances and concerts in the summer. The Eldena Jazz Evenings have taken place here in July for more than 30 years. The painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774 – 1840), born in Greifswald, made the Eldena Abbey ruins world famous with his paintings andat the same time turned them into a symbol for the entire Romantic period. Several of Friedrich’s works can be found in the Pomeranian State Museum. A model of the former monastery can also be seen there.
Foto: Eldena Abbey ruins, Wolgaster Landstraße, 17493 Greifswald, Western portal of the former Eldena Abbey church
The abbey ruins site is open all year round and accessible to anyone. Please book group tours at the Greifswald information office.
The Greifswald cathedral has been a cultural monument of national importance since 2008. It was chosen as the “Church of the Year 2013” in Germany by the Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Church Monuments.
St. Nikolai was referred to in documents for the first time in 1280. The church is named after Saint Nicholas of Myra (around 285 to 350), who was considered to be the patron saint of sailors and merchants in the Middle Ages. Its consecration as a cathedral took place in 1456, the year the University was founded. Besides church services and concerts, the university’s academic honours and matriculations still take place here.
St. Nikolai is the church where the painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) was baptised. The church interior is designed in neo-Gothic style. The Pastorate Ministry’s library with medieval scriptures, incunabula and books has been open to the public since 2012. You can climb the 98 metre high Baroque pinnacled tower. A poignant chime of the seven bells in total sounds on major religious holidays. www.dom-greifswald.de
St. Jacobi parish church, Greifswald’s smallest medieval city parish church, was referred to in documents for the first time in 1275. It was renovated into a three nave hall and extended by a chancel around 1400. The church was used as a corn and flour store during the Thirty Years’ War. The medieval interior was then completely destroyed during the time of Napoleon’s occupation of Greifswald from 1807 to 1813. It is only the baptismal font that remains preserved from the 13th century. The architect and university professor Johann Gottfried Quistorp (1758 - 1834) started to redesign the interior in 1817. In 1966, a new pinnacle was put on the tower following a fire in 1955. The beautiful painted chancel window and the huge church roof were also renovated in 2002, after St. Jacobi had been chosen as the exhibition and event space for the much respected North German presentation of the “Brick Gothic Routs”. Caspar David Friedrich (1774 – 1840) produced numerous pencil drawings and oil paintings, for example “Klosterfriedhof im Schnee” (Monastery Cemetery in the Snow) (1818/19) or “Wiesen vor Greifswald” (Fields outside Greifswald) (1820/22) with the Jacobi church as the focal point.
Like the cathedral, St. Marien church is a monument of national importance. The Gothic brick church, which was first referred to as a parish church in official documents in 1280, was built as a three nave hall church with no chancel. The wall frescoes with the Passion of Jesus Christ originate from the year 1411. The precious chancel, decorated with numerous inlays, was created in 1587. The church interior stands out due to its clear, simple colouring. In St. Marien music sounds on one of the largest preserved organs created by the Stralsund organ builder Mehmel (1827 – 1888). The church’s peal comes from three bells. At the entrance to the church nave, a commemoration stone reminds us of the Mayor and university founder Heinrich Rubenow (around 1400 - 1462), who was murdered in 1462. Friedrich August von Klinkowström (1778 – 1835) reproduced Correggio’s “Holy Night” as the altarpiece for St. Marien. Klinkowström was also taught by the university professor Johann Gottfried Quistorp (1758–1834) in Greifswald, just like Caspar David Friedrich.
This structure was part of the medieval fortification that once surrounded Greifswald. It was first mentioned in the chronicles as “Vangentorm” in 1329. Once the structures in the area of the Schützenwall (part of ramparts) had been levelled out during the 18th century and the Hansering was built with access to Friedrich-Loeffler-Straße in the 1970s, the 13.50 metre high tower remained intact as a cornerstone. When the building also no longer met the requirements as a gunpowder tower later on, the city leased it to the university in 1775, which used the tower as an observatory for a while due to its height and location on the edge of the city. The battlement was only added in the middle of the 19th century when the Fangenturm even had to serve as a public lavatory from then on. After extensive maintenance and renovation work in the 1990s, the harbour museum’s harbour master was able to move into his office on the ground floor. He has organisational responsibility for the harbour with its more than 50 moorings, which are reserved for seaworthy traditional ships.
Today’s cultural centre was opened in 1989, the year of the reunification, and is housed in one of Greifswald’s most beautiful monuments. St. Spiritus was founded as a church hospital 750 years ago. The building already served as a hospital in the 14th century and in modern times as a care facility for the elderly and old people’s home. The low courtyard buildings were still inhabited until well into the 1970s. The ensemble of buildings was given its current appearance during the Swedish era. The “old Holy Spirit church” mentioned for the first time in the late 16th century is one of Greifswald’s most beautiful halls for events today. Over the last few years, St. Spiritus has been extensively renovated and reconstructed to allow for it to be used for cultural events by various initiatives. The historic chapel and open-air stage in the inner courtyard provide an atmospheric platform for many events.
The Greifswald Franciscan Monastery was founded by the Earl of Gützkow in 1262. The oldest sections of this building —which was probably used as a guesthouse for the monastery‘s benefactors — were erected around 1285/90 and consist of the eastern section of the southern cloister wing. Today‘s structure with two vaulted storeys of the same height was built in the late l5th century. This type of building and a donation of books recorded in 1484 indicate that the building was also converted into a library and auditorium at that time. After the dissolution of the monastery in 1556, the building became part of the City School in 1556 and was converted into the three-storey residence of the schoolmaster in the middle of the l8th century. lt was home to the Greifswald City Museum from 1929 to 1999. In 1980 a prominent group of figures from around 1300 was revealed in the west wall.
The brick gabled houses on the eastern side of the market square are presumed to be among the first brick houses in Greifswald. The plot of land Markt 11 had already been developed in the late 13th century. It once belonged to the Rubenow family. Heinrich Rubenow was the Mayor who founded the university in 1456. The façade was designed in neo-Gothic style during renovations in 1855/1856. The richly structured windowed gable is decorated with green glazed and unglazed moulded bricks. This history of the Markt 13 Gothic gabled house dates back to the 13th/14th century. Originally it was probably provided with a medieval gable end. During reconstruction in 1959 a stepped gable was built on which was maintained as part of the renovation after 1990. The concrete bricks used first of all were replaced by burnt moulded bricks. There was no use of glazed bricks to clearly set the medieval part of the façade apart from the reconstructed parts. There has been a restaurant in the cellar’s barrel vault and on the ground floor since 1995.