Wismar, Germany

Wismar, on the Baltic just east of Lubeck, is one of the most important cities of the Hanseatic League. Shortly after its founding, it banded together with Lübeck and Rostock in a defensive alliance, which led to the formation of the League. Today it has one of the finest preserved and restored treasuries of German Brick Gothic architecture existing, and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. It has the largest Market Square in Germany, anchored by the wrought-iron Waterworks from 1602, and surrounded by stellar buildings. The city was ruled by Sweden from 1648 until 1903. It was heavily damaged during World War II, and was a part of the GDR after the war until 1990. There are many fine examples of Hanseatic era patrician gable houses in Wismar, most notably the Alter Schwede (Old Swede) from 1380. The architectural heritage in the city spans eras from Gothic through Art Nouveau styles.