City history

The oldest evidence of a settlement in the Schwaan area dates back to around 2600 BCE. A burial mound on today's Doberaner Chaussee, known as "Herzberg", is a historical monument from a later period dating back to the Bronze Age around 1500 BCE. The area south of Schwaan on the Warnow river has always played an important role as a trading center. An old crossing of the long-distance trade route "Via regia", which crossed the Warnow in a west-east direction, also ran along here. Many archaeological finds bear witness to the great importance of this Warnow crossing, two of which deserve special mention. The discovery of the Schwaan silver treasure in 1859, which must have been laid down around 1030, attracted some attention. Equally important was the Schwaan weapon find, which includes weapons from the period between 1600 BCE and 1500 CE, which were recovered from the Warnow in 1927/28. Like many places in northern Germany, Schwaan is of Slavic origin and owes its foundation to its extremely favorable strategic location between the Warnow and Beke rivers. The Slavs, who settled in the area from the year 600, were offered a protected location thanks to the water and moorland. The surrounding land was reclaimed for agriculture. The place name Schwaan is also of Slavic origin. The murder of the Slavic prince Niklot at Werle Castle, 5 km south of Schwaan, by the Saxon Duke Henry the Lion marked the end of the Slavic period in Mecklenburg in 1160. The first German settlers came to Schwaan around 1190. They settled in the Slavic castle complex in the area of today's Amtsplatz. The place name Syuuan was adopted and continued by them. A priest from Syuuan is mentioned in a deed of donation in 1232. It is assumed that he was a priest at the church in Schwaan. In 1276, Schwaan was first mentioned in a document as a city with the name Svan. However, the year in which the city was founded remains unknown, but due to the existence of a church in 1232, it is highly likely that the city had already existed as a city since at least 1230. By 1300, the city had essentially developed and consolidated its position as the center of the "Land of Schwaan", was the seat of a bailiwick of the sovereign, had market rights and minor jurisdiction. The castle built in place of the fortress, referred to in documents as "Slot" or "festes Hauß", must have been a stately building with several towers, separated from the city by a moat, and is depicted on the Vicke-Schorler scroll, which was produced in 1578-1585 and shows Rostock and the surrounding villages. Schwaan had a rampart, a moat and three city gates to protect it from intruders. The Letschower Tor (at the Amtsplatz) and bridge gade (at the Warnowbridge) were demolished at the end of the 18th century, the millgate (at the watermill) only after 1830. In 1717, the castle was ordered to be demolished in order to transport the usable building materials to Schwerin for the expansion of the castle there. Over the centuries, the city's development was repeatedly slowed down by inheritance disputes between the ruling dukes, shifting borders, the effects of war and several major fires. In 1765, Schwaan was almost completely burnt down by a major fire. Only the church, the watermill, the office building on the castle grounds and five houses on the east side of the Warnow were spared. The city  houses built in the period that followed still dominate the historic cityscape today. In the middle of the 19th century, the economic boom increased and the number of inhabitants also rose. In 1840 there were 2,000 inhabitants, 30 years later there were already 3,400. Farming increased and several brickworks were built in and around Schwaan. Railroad construction began and the first rail link was opened in 1850. There was a lively commercial activity. In the years around 1880, an artists' colony was founded in Schwaan, whose works were to achieve fame beyond the borders of the country. The tranquillity and harmony of Schwaan's surroundings provided the inspiration for painting in nature. The First World War and the years that followed caused the city's development to stagnate until around 1925, when building activity began to pick up again. Schwaan was spared destruction during the Second World War, only the Warnow Bridge was blown up on May 1, 1945. The history of the city is closely linked to that of the district of Schwaan. The surrounding villages were established in the 13th and 14th centuries and contributed to the development of trade and crafts in Schwaan as a center. An excerpt from the Mecklenburg State Calendar of 1797 shows that the Amt Schwaan included around 25 municipalities. These included Biestow, Groß-Bölkow, Buchholz, Fahrenholz, Nienhusen, Papendorf, Reinshagen, Selow and Stäbelow.


Pferdemarkt 2
18258 Schwaan
Tel.: +49 (0)3844 84110

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