The Swedish Period

The outbreak of the Thirty Years' War lead to decisive changes for both cities. In 1632 Wismar fell to Sweden, while Stralsund had already signed an alliance agreement with the Kingdom of Sweden in 1628 following the famous unsuccessful siege of the city by the imperial troops under Wallenstein. Twenty years later both cities came under Swedish rule according to the terms of the Peace Treaties of Westphalia.

Both cities superbly illustrate the reciprocal influences that were exterted in a cultural space that transcended national borders. The material evidence of this time can be found in both cities in the large number of baroque houses and Swedish administrative buildings.

Stralsund and Wismar were included in Swedish policy and in the ensuing decades were repeatedly embroiled in armed conflicts to detrimental effect. Due to their strategic location within German lands, both cities were transformed into fortified towns of European importance.

Both cities were seats of central administration; in Wismar the Royal Swedish Tribunal was set up as a Supreme Court for all German possessions of the Kingdom of Sweden. From 1672 the expansion of the fortifications that had begun under Wallenstein was continued and intensified. City maps from the 18th century show the impressive fortifications in the form of a multi-level ring of protective bastions.

One of the largest fortified towns of north and central Europe developed under the direction of prominent Swedish military engineer Erik Dahlberg. The new design of the Wismar fortifications marked a new stage in the development of fortification construction resulting in completely self-contained fortifications with bulwarks as an effective all-round defence system. Remnants of these fortifications have survived in the Lindengarten to the east of the old city walls as well as in other location.

Likewise in Stralsund, soon after the Swedes took control of the city they focussed special attention on the fortifications and by the first half of the 16th century the ring of protective bastions was being developed under the direction of fortification architects Cornelius Loos and Marquis de Montalembert. The span and original design of the protective ring are today still clearly discernible on the so-called ramparts at the edge of historic centre island.

With the defeat of Sweden by Denmark in the Nordic War of 1700-1721 Danish, Prussian and Hanoverian troops occupied the city of Wismar. All the defence structures of the fortifications had to be demolished and removed. Wismar remained under Swedish rule according to the Treaty of Frederiksborg in 1720 but had already lost its importance for the Kingdom through the relinquishing of Bremen–Verden in 1719.

In 1720 Stralsund became the government capital of Swedish Western Pomerania. The testimony in stone to this time can be seen in the many baroque gabled houses that define the cityscape. From the end of the 17th century onwards, increasing numbers of lavish and somewhat palatial residential and administrative buildings with eaves facing streetwards began to emerge in the cityscape. The Swedish period also saw the development of factories and production facilities in Stralsund, the most significant of which included the Faience factory (tin-glazed pottery/tiles) opened in 1755 and the world-famous playing card factory opened in 1765.

The Swedish period saw the development of economic ties, but even more significant were the cultural ties that were then being established between the northern European motherland and the two cities. The Swedish townscape register of 1706/07 was an inventory of the city of Stralsund taken for tax purposes, and offers an outstanding example of the recording of a city of this size in terms of settlement geography and social topography. Another exceptional cultural resource is the map of Stralsund that was created in 1647 by the Swedish cartographer and scholar Johannes Staude. The map provides a detailed representation of the Baltic city and is today considered to be one of a kind.