1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wismar

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WISMAR, a seaport town of Germany, in the grand-duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, situated on the Bay of Wismar, one of the best harbours on the Baltic, 20 m. by rail N. of Schwerin. Pop. (1905) 21,902. The town is well and regularly built, with broad and straight streets, and contains numerous handsome and quaint buildings in the northern Gothic style. The church of St Mary, a Gothic edifice of the 13th and 14th centuries, with a tower 260 ft. high, and the church of St Nicholas (1381-1460), with very lofty vaulting, are regarded as good examples of the influence exercised in these northern provinces by the large church of St Mary in Lübeck. The elegant cruciform church of St George dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. The Fürstenhof, at one time a ducal residence, but now occupied by the municipal authorities, is a richly decorated specimen of the Italian early Renaissance style. Built in 1552-1565, it was restored in 1877-1879. The "Old School," dating from about 1300, has been restored, and is now occupied as a museum. The town hall (rebuilt in 1829) contains a collection of pictures. Among the manufactures of Wismar are iron, machinery, paper, roofing-felt and asphalt. There is a considerable trade, especially by sea, the exports including grain, oil-seeds and butter, and the imports coal, timber and iron. The harbour is deep enough to admit vessels of 17 ft. draught, and permits large steamers to unload along its quays. Two miles from Wismar lies the watering-place of Wendorf.

Wismar is said to have received civic rights in 1229, and came into the possession of Mecklenburg in 1301. In the 13th and 14th centuries it was a flourishing Hanse town, with important woollen factories. Though a plague carried off 10,000 of the inhabitants in 1376, the town seems to have remained tolerably prosperous until the 16th century. By the peace of Westphalia in 1648 it passed to Sweden, with a lordship to which it gives its name. In 1803 Sweden pledged both town and lordship to Mecklenburg for 1,258,000 thalers, reserving, however, the right of redemption after 100 years. In view of this contingent right of Sweden, Wismar was not represented in the diet of Mecklenburg until 1897. In 1903 Sweden finally renounced its claims. Wismar still retains a few relics of its old liberties, including the right to fly its own flag.

See Burmeister, Beschreibung von Wismar (Wismar, 1857); Willgeroth, Geschichte der Stadt Wismar, pt. i. (Wismar, 1898); and Bruno Schmidt, Der Schwedisch-mecklenburgische Pfandvertrag über Stadt und Herrschaft Wismar (Leipzig, 1901).