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Rail route of the month: throughout japanese Germany to the Polish metropolis of Szczecin | Germany holidays

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The elegant primary railway station within the Hanseatic metropolis of Lübeck is properly suited to grand departures, however these are few and much between lately. The one worldwide vacation spot served from Lübeck is Szczecin, in Poland. Half a dozen day by day trains ply a meandering route by sparsely populated terrain on a 185-mile journey that begins in Holstein after which crosses Mecklenburg to succeed in Pomerania. It’s a area the place, traditionally, Prussia and Sweden vied for supremacy. Right now it’s an opportunity to see off-the-beaten-track communities in a distant a part of japanese Germany.

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Germany to Poland rail

I begin my journey by Lübeck’s celebrated Holstentor: it’s a unprecedented mid-Fifteenth-century metropolis gate and units the scene for the journey east in direction of Poland. The rail route from Lübeck to Szczecin is called the Stadttore-Linie (the City Gates Route). A number of locations alongside it boast nice examples of defensive gates, most of them in an architectural fashion discovered throughout the Baltic area. It’s known as by the German identify Backsteingotik (brick gothic).

Holstentor.
Journey’s begin: Lübeck’s Holstentor. {Photograph}: mauritius photographs/Alamy

Lübeck’s Holstentor is an efficient place to replicate on the exceptional wealth and affect Lübeck loved within the Hanseatic period. Travellers who cease off alongside the Stadttore-Linie will discover nice small cities that thrived on Hanseatic connections, many with placing brick-gothic gates, although none is as elaborate because the Lübeck instance. There are nice Stadttore at Teterow, Malchin and Neubrandenburg. Curiously, the 2 distinguished metropolis gates in Szczecin, on the japanese finish of the route, buck the brick-gothic development in favour of neo-baroque fashion.

Listening to that the prepare to Szczecin is a no-frills affair, I top off on marzipan, which is a Lübeck staple. From the Holstentor, it’s only a five-minute stroll to Platform 1 at Lübeck station the place a modest two-carriage diesel prepare is able to depart on its journey of just about 5 hours to Szczecin. It’s initially very full, however rapidly empties out. I think that nobody on board is absolutely travelling proper by to Poland. “I’ve by no means travelled that far,” says the prepare’s guard. “In truth I’ve by no means been to Poland,” he provides as our prepare pirouettes across the west and south sides of Lübeck, slipping by the suburb of St Jürgen with nice views of Lübeck’s well-known skyline away to the left. The medley of church buildings and distinctive redbrick warehouses has earned Lübeck a spot on Unesco’s world heritage record as a showpieceof Hanseatic fashion.

The Szczecin-bound train at Lübeck station.
The Szczecin-bound prepare at Lübeck station. {Photograph}: Hidden Europe

Seven minutes into our journey, we cross an not easily seen ditch which till October 1990 marked the border between the 2 German States. Sure, that wee ditch actually was the road of the iron curtain. From right here, till we enter Poland about 10 minutes earlier than arriving in Szczecin, our journey on the gradual prepare crosses the territory of the previous German Democratic Republic.

Our route east shuns the coast, resolutely staying properly inland. I cease off right here and there, revisiting communities I knew from the early days after German reunification. We glide previous lakes and forests, ceaselessly catching glimpses of weathered farmsteads, empty storks’ nests and nervous deer.

I keep in a single day in Güstrow, which is spick and span in contrast with 30 years in the past, however this small city has misplaced 20% of its inhabitants since then (Lodge am Schlosspark has doubles from €99 with breakfast). It as soon as had 4 city gates, however all are lengthy gone. The attraction right here is one thing completely different: a mysteriously stunning sculpture by Ernst Barlach which floats simply above head peak in Güstrow’s imposing brick-gothic church. Barlach lived in Güstrow and the piece was created in 1927 as a memorial to those that perished within the first world conflict. With an admonishing look on her face, and options clearly resembling artist Käthe Kollwitz, the suspended angel speaks of a necessity for peace in a troubled world. It has a haunted look, and I’m now eager to see the near-identical Barlach sculpture in Cologne.

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Ernst Barlach’s floating angel sculpture in the church at Güstrow.
Ernst Barlach’s floating angel sculpture within the church at Güstrow. {Photograph}: Dpa Image Alliance/Alamy

The evening in Güstrow is blissfully peaceable and early subsequent morning I’m again on the gradual prepare heading east in direction of Poland. I pause for breakfast in Teterow, whose brick-gothic city gate is even older than Lübeck’s. Teterow is the western gateway to a mildly hilly space which kinds itself as Mecklenburg’s reply to Switzerland. Consider me, there’s nothing Swiss concerning the Mecklenburgische Schweiz, although it’s undeniably stunning.

As with so many rural areas of japanese Germany, that is an space with few guests from afar, although, being solely an hour or two from the German capital, it’s a lot feted by Berliners for its rural allure and diverse landscapes. Two girls be part of the prepare in Malchin, and inform me I’ve missed a trick by not stopping off there.

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