If you have time to discover Schwerin for yourself, you shouldn’t forget to visit the heart of Schwerin.
Schwerin Castle leaves a prominent mark on the historic cityscape, alongside the theatre, the museum and the cathedral. Towards the end of the last ice age, which occurred around 10,000 years ago, a sand bank was created due to changes in the flow of meltwater. Along with dead organisms, it formed the subsoil for the fairytale castle. It can now be said for certain that the castle’s island, at over 1,000 years old, is justified in calling itself historic. It was also the site of the main fort of the Obotrite princes. Unfortunately though, its history is only documented from the 12th century. Obotrite prince Niklot was forced to leave Zuarin Castle in the middle of the 12th century and had it completely destroyed in 1160. His German conquerors then rebuilt it under Henry the Lion. The city of Schwerin was founded in the same year.
The only medieval historical monument in Schwerin that has survived the centuries is the cathedral, which towers over everything. For almost 200 years, from 1272 until the end of the 15th century, the cathedral hill was the city’s largest building site. Building work continued on the nave and transept, as well as on the chapter buildings, throughout the 14th century. The medieval construction was completed at around the end of the 15th century with the addition of the cloister on the north side. But it wasn’t until 1889 to 1893 that the cathedral’s 117.5-metre-high neo-Gothic tower was built.
Today, visitors stand in amazement beneath the 28-metre-high central nave vault and in front of the beautiful late-Gothic winged altarpiece from a Lübeck workshop. They marvel at the Madonnas carved in wood and at the memorial slabs made from brass for four Schwerin bishops from the von Bülow dynasty. Or they enjoy the view over the city of the lakes and forests from the viewing gallery situated at a height of 50 metres in the cathedral’s tower.
The Pfaffenteich is a pond located in the centre of Schwerin. It is not a real pond, neither by nature nor by name. It is artificially dammed.
To create this millpond, it is likely that the southern end of the adjacent Ziegelsee lake was separated off using a dam shortly after the city was founded. A second dam sealed off the water to the south around Schloßstraße; here, where the water flowed out into the nearby Burgsee lake on what is now the property at Schloßstraße 30, the count created a mill that continued to operate into the 19th century following numerous renovations. A second mill was situated on the Aubach river, which flows into the Pfaffenteich, just a short distance from where it joins it at the north-west side of the pond. As operating a mill represented a lucrative source of income in those times, the cathedral chapter soon took the mill into its ownership; it has been known as the “Bischofsmühle” or “bishop’s mill” ever since and was operated until 1914. The battle between the cathedral chapter and the count about the surface level of the Pfaffenteich never really came to an end, but the chapter succeeded in gaining ownership of the pond.
Its current edging and the picturesque avenue of lime trees that runs all around the Pfaffenteich were only created in the middle of the 19th century, an ingenious urban planning solution that dates back to the chief court architect Georg Adolph Demmler.