Neustadt-Glewe

In the same way that there are multiple places in England called ‘Newtown’ or ‘Whitchurch’ reflecting the relative novelty of a settlement or the white colour of its church, so in Germany, there are quite a few places called ‘Neustadt’ or ‘Weisskirchen’ reflecting the same facts.

Rather than visit the more famous ‘Neustadt an der Weinstrasse’, I recently spent a week in Neustadt-Glewe. The ‘Glewe’ part of its name is its original name, deriving from ‘Chlěvy’ or ‘Chlewa’ which means ‘animal stable’ in Polish and Czech respectively. On re-founding the town in 1248, the ‘Neustadt’ (i.e. Newtown) part was added. The original name became less used however in 1926, the council decided to re-introduce the first name of the settlement and since then, the town has been called Neustadt-Glewe.

The newness of the town in 1248 speaks of the history of the settlement, which lies in Mecklenburg, about 30km south of Schwerin, the state capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The age is reflected in the local architecture, which modernisation has adapted to allow for perpendicular windows, even if the walls are not.

The town hall sits neatly in the middle of the old town, facing a square (now a car park) at the front and backing onto another square which leads to little alleyways of red-brick half-timbered houses.

The town church is also of brick and timber construction, although records indicate it used to have a wooden church tower. There was a big fire in 1728 and since then there has been no church tower. In 1784 a half-timbered building was constructed opposite the church, which now houses the church bell. A slightly cosier place to be than the bell of St Sophia!

Like every self-respecting town of the middle ages, there is of course a palace in Neustadt-Glewe too. Building started in 1619, which was then heavily delayed by the Thirty Years’ War. Following a restart in 1710, over 30 rooms were built and decorated in a baroque style. It was the home to Sophie-Louise, Queen of Prussia at a time and Mecklenburg was governed from there until 1735. It is now a hotel, out of my price range so the picture is just from the outside!

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