Eight questions for...

Steffi Behrendt, official World Heritage commissioner for the town of Stralsund.

When I visit the World Heritage Site of Stralsund, what should I definitely not miss?

The old market place is a must. Here you'll also find Stralsund town hall with its famous decorative facade and the monumental St. Nicholas Church with its rich decor. Close by, Stralsund's World Heritage exhibition offers guests an insight into UNESCO, the idea behind World Heritage and the reasons why Stralsund was put on the list. A walk to the harbor is also essential. There, next to many sailing boats and sporting yachts, you'll find the tall ship museum vessel Gorch Fock I.

What do you particularly like here?

The entire old town center of Stralsund is surrounded by water. This is particularly noticeable from the St. Mary's Church viewing platform at a height of 80 meters. From there you have a fantastic view of the entire medieval town center. Weather permitting, you can also see the island of Rügen - and on really clear days all the way to Hiddensee island.

Do you have an insider tip?

A little off the beaten track is "Heilgeist" abbey. Hollyhocks bloom there in summer. All the heritage protected buildings have been lovingly restored.

What impressed you most during your first visit here?

As a child I went to the maritime museum on the harbor island, which is still one of the most visited museums in Germany. In 2008, they opened the elaborately designed annex building "Ozeaneum." The Ozeanum was selected Europe's Museum of the Year in 2010, because of its unique exhibitions and imposing architecture.

What's the nicest time of year to visit?

Hustle and bustle in the summer and tranquility in winter. That's how one could describe Stralsund. Those who love sun, wind and sailing will love the summers here. The sea air makes even really hot days bearable. In Winter it is quieter. Then you can take a leisurely stroll through the museums, abbeys and churches or sit in a cozy cafe. I personally love the mild days of fall. You can be active outdoors until well into October here.

What else should I see here?

Stralsund has some outstanding church organs, which sound wonderful now that they've been restored. These queens among instruments can be admired in St. Nicholas and in St. Mary's Church.

Visiting World Heritage Sites means working up an appetite. What regional specialty should I try?

Popular and internationally known is the original "Bismarck herring." It has been around since 1871 when it was named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The Baltic Sea herring filet which is pickled in a mild, sour and sweetly spiced infusion, is best enjoyed on a bread roll as a fish sandwich.

And which World Heritage Site would you like to see one day?

I find Nepal, with its World Heritage Site capital of Kathmandu and Mount Everest, which is in the Sagarmatha National Park, very appealing. I think this is a really impressive natural site. One day I'd like to go there.

Steffi Behrendt

was born in the city with the most World Heritage Sites in Germany: Berlin.

She has been the official World Heritage commissioner for the town of Stralsund since 2003, which means she is also responsible for the Hanseatic town's international relations and town partnerships.


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