Founding of the Cities

Wismar and Stralsund have planned city layouts as a result of German colonization of Slavic territories in the 12th and 13th centuries. It can be assumed that relatively large settlements already existed at the time of the first documented mentions of Wismar and Stralsund – in 1229 and 1234 respectively.

Wismar was founded at the beginning of the 13th century at a distance of about 1.5 km from the Wendish fishing village of Alt Wismar and only 5 km north of Mecklenburg, the centuries-old centre of the Slavic Obodrites. In the case of Stralsund too, a fishing and ferry village had existed in or near the area where the city would later grow and this village maintained the link to the island of Rügen. The name of the village was most likely Stralow, the same name as used when the city was first mentioned in written sources.

Stralsund and Wismar had the best conditions for the founding of a city. The protected natural harbours directly on the Baltic Sea and the favorable traffic routes gave them an advantageous position for their future participation in long-distance Hanseatic trade.

To ensure the security of the fast-developing cities of Stralsund and Wismar, a fortified city wall was built around each town soon after they were granted their formal statutes.
In Stralsund, parts of the wall were already constructed as early as 1256. The city was accessible through six sea gates and four (maybe five) land gates in the walls. In 1276, the palisades of the three indivudual Wismar settlements were replaced by a common city wall made of stone, complete with ramparts and moats, two water gates leading to the harbour and three landgates. A very important addition to the fortification systems of Wismar and Stralsund was the ponds which were already dammed up in the early-development phase of the cities.