Monday, June 19, 2017

Discovering Perleberg

What you can do when one Friday morning you realise that you finish everything on your to-do-list and there is no hassle for moving mountains in the next two days? You reward yourself with a little trip to a destination you haven't heard about before. For instance, the 778-year old Perleberg, the capital of Prignitz, in the North-Western part of Brandenburg. 
The trip from Berlin lasted around 3 hours passing by rapseed yellow fields and huge white cranes of the windmills with stops in places I visited at least once before, such as Rheinsberg or Kremmen. But upon arrival, the train station looked a bit abandoned. With the next train to Berlin a couple of hours away, I decided to try my chance though and move forward towards the city center. 
Views of old architecture and houses telling stories from another times dissipated my worries about a failed day trip.
My first stop was at Goethe Platz, were a monument for the Deutsche Einheit - German Unity - was erected, a reminder that this area used to be part of the former communist Germany. 
On the way to the old city center, intensive works were aimed at rebuilding the historical buildings. Given that this part is usually the most sought by tourists, I can only hope that the works will finish in due time and the visitors will be able to taste the local architecture. However, the good human spirit remains and I was surprised to be greeted every couple of meters by more or less hurried people.
The local architecture has also some surprises to offer, such as the elegant building of the Volksbank decorated in Art Nouveau style.
The quietness of the place is a good reward if you want to escape the busy city life. Crossing the little bridge Am Wandrahmen over Stepenitz river offer picturesque corners of paradise hidden near generous patches of green. 
The seven hundreds old history of Perleberg is everywhere. A local history museum is hidden under the thick red-bricked walls that since 1200 surrounded the city, out of which there are only 350 meters left. Stepping on the narrow streets is like a time travel experience, as you wait for some historical character to cross your path. 
The more or less old buildings are appearing at the corners of streets, displaying the creativity of architects across centuries. 
Once on Kirchplatz, more and more such discrete historical insertions are catching my hungry-for-architecture eyes. Half-timbered houses are happily neighbouring Art Nouveau buildings painted in sweet pastel colours.
The more is to come on Großmarkt, the main city square where you can find all the important buildings, dominated by the city hall. The main attraction of the city, the statue of Roland, the knight with a drawn sword, an usual appearance near many city halls in this patt of Germany, was at the time under renovation therefore I couldn't catch him on the camera. But I was promised by the representatives of the local Tourism Information office that by end of June he may be back into the landscape. The statues of Roland are typical for Eastern and Northern part of Germany and symbolized since the 13th century the town priviledges conferred to a city.
The red-brick buildings in this parts of Germany are predominantly used by the institutional buildings, such as city hall or other important offices. 
The local postal office is another interesting architectural sightseeing, but for those familiar with serious British history, it has to do with a mysterious story. This place was were the British diplomatic envoy Benjamin Bathures was last seen on 25 November 1809, after mysteriously vanishing. Over the last two centuries various variants of the disappearance was offered, including the science-fiction one, but according to the latest investigations, it seems he was just murdered and no traces left.
As the summer sun is getting hotter, a trip along the Stepnitz river is the best refreshment, and either you are by foot or by bike, walking Lotte Lehman Promenade, named for a famous German soprano born here, is favoring the good mood.
An Parchimerstrasse, the former Judenhof, the best maintained such a center in Germany, a testimony of the Jewish life in this area at the end of the Middle Ages, is nowadays a cultural center, hosting exhibitions and conferences. 
The area around can offer some hilarious surprises, the creative sparkle of local artists aiming to soften the seriousness of the buildings.
Perleberg is generous with museums lovers too, such as the Wallgebäude, a historical building at the beginning of Puschkinstraße, hosting various galleries and exhibitions. Altstadt museum is a testimony of the rich historical past. For those more interested in the recent history, there is the DDR Museum, displaying the former communist times. As in many other places in Eastern Germany, Perleberg is also a proud owner of a Oldtimermuseum, a meeting point for lovers of vintage cars in the area.
After so much wandering, it is about time for some lunch, and L'italiano ristorante&pizzeria offers a pleasant family-friendly ambiance with fast service and some warm Italian hospitality. My lasagna broccoli was fine, the kind of meal which gives you the incentive to continue the day with a happy tummy.
There is more and more to explore, the camera in hand, ready for taking a snap. From highschool buildings to newly renovated historical residential areas, Perleberg seems to be a very pleasant travel surprise.
The narrow endings of the old buildings look like a perfect match for the blue sky of this time of the year.
There is also room for a bit of luxury, at the local Hotel Deutscher Kaiser which looks so inviting that for more than a second I am considering to book for one night to feel a bit pampered, running the daily family chores.
The temptation of discovering more of Perleberg during the few time left here is stronger, so I am going back on forth the Fußgangerzone, the main shopping and showing off area in town.
The diversity of styles and the colours of the buildings keeps charming me, as I rarely encounter so many different shapes and styles in one single town box.
Sometimes, I feel like I am back to Celle, with its colourful buildings.
There is time to take pictures and walk the cobblestone streets and it is time to come back. As we are ready for the ride back to Berlin, I know that my travel intuition was right again. My choice for the day-trip was excellent and I will be back for sure one day to add the picture of the Roland and check more interesting corners for my travel memories.

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