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Published: September 10th 2017
Prora was built in the 1930-ies and was then and is now the largest beach resort in the world.
A giant hotel, a rocket research base and an elevator into the ocean
When Ake has time off he sometimes travel without Emma. Emma is mostly OK with that as long as Ake visit places Emma has either been to already or she is not the slightest bit interested in visiting. This summer Ake went to Prora and Peenemünde two destinations which fit in the latter category.
But Ake didn’t go on this trip on his own. He went there together with his mother, Britt-Marie, because she, unlike Emma, thought the abovementioned destinations sounded interesting.
Prora and Peenemünde both are in the district Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the northeast part of Germany. This is a region which is easy to visit from Sweden since there are ferries linking southern Sweden with northern Germany. We just went with the car to the ferry terminal and went on board the ferry in the evening. In the morning we arrived in Germany ready for sightseeing. Prora
was built in the 1930-ies and was then and is now the largest beach resort in the world. The original plan was to build 8 huge buildings with
Prora is roughly 4.5 km long and the buildings are six stories high making it really colossal in size.
a total of 20,000 beds. This can be compared with the largest hotel in the world which according to Wikipedia at the time of writing is First World Hotel in Genting Highlands in Malaysia which has 7,351 rooms.
Prora is roughly 4.5 km long and the buildings are six stories high making it really colossal in size. It was never finished however. Two or three of the planned eight buildings were under construction and several other buildings intended to be part of the great Prora complex were never started when the Second World War forced Nazi Germany to divert its resources from building beach resorts towards making weapons.
After the war the unfinished sections were left as they were. They actually even began to tear down some of the buildings because they didn’t see how they could use this gigantic construction to anything. Fortunately they stopped the destruction and today there is enough standing of the original structures to imagine what the original plan was.
After the Second World War parts of Prora were used by the army, other sections were not used at all and fell into disrepair and a
The original plan was to build 8 huge buildings with a total of 20,000 beds. This can be compared with the largest hotel in the world which has 7,351 rooms.
small part of it was actually used as a sea resort. In resent years much of Prora has been restored and as the restorations continue more and more of it is used as a sea resort as it was originally intended. There is today at least one hotel, one youth hostel and a great many holiday apartments in what was planned as the largest sea resort in the world.
Not far from Prora is another site which heydays were in the first half of the 20th century – Peenemünde
. It was in Peenemünde Nazi Germany had their largest rocket research facility. The scientists at Peenemünde were responsible for developing the German rocket program, a project which resulted in the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 rocket. It was the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 rocket Nazi Germany used when the rained bombs over London and other cities in UK during the Blitz.
After the Second World War the scientists who worked in Peenemünde were recruited by the USA and the Soviet Union and they could there continue developing rocket technology. These scientists formed the backbone of NASA until the 1970-ies.
Today Prora is renovated and restored and bit by bit it is turned into what it was planned to be in the first place - a beach resort.
While my mother and I were in Germany we also visited a few other sights:
The town Zinnowitz is a typical seaside resort with one very atypical attraction – the submerged gondola. I prefer to call it an elevator into the ocean because that better describes what it is. You pay the entrance fee and you get to ride the gondola down in the ocean, get to stay there for about half an hour and go up again. It was a fun experience more because it was unusual than for being spectacular. Seriously, the water of the Baltic Sea is not the best the water for exploring underwater life. It is murky, has low visibility and there isn’t much life there. Karnin
is a very tiny place in the southeast corner of Usedom Island. In the 1930-ies a railway bridge
linking Usedom with the main land was built in Karnin. In the end of the second World War German troops deliberately destroyed the bridge to slow down the advancing Soviet troops. However, they didn’t destroy the entire bridge, only the ends of it. The bridge was never reconstructed again so today there is a piece of
Recreated room in Prora
This room has been recreated to look like how they were originally planned when it was built in the 1930-ies
a railway bridge, a section they could elevate high into the air to let ships sail under it, is left standing on its own in the middle of the strait separating the island from the mainland.
Prora is on the east coast of Rügen Island. There are plenty of other places of interest on Rügen. There are castles and churches but also a World Heritage listed forest and a spectacular pair of lighthouses. We found the lighthouses to be the most interesting of the other sites in Rügen and we spent almost half a day visiting them.
The lighthouses are at the northern end of Rügen at a place called Cape Arkona
. We initially thought that there was only going to be to drive up to the lighthouses, have a quick look and then drive away again. We were wrong. First of all Cape Arkona is so popular among tourists that they don’t allow cars to drive up to it. We had to park the car 2 km away and walk the rest of the way. It was a nice walk through the fields so it was not a waste of time. We also walked
Ruined section of Prora
After the war the unfinished sections were left as they were.
through the village Putgarten. It is quite avoidable if you wish to visit Arkona because it is on the way between the car park and the lighthouses. But again, walking through Putgarten was not a waste of time because it is a spectacularly pretty little village.
At Cape Arkona there was more to see than we expected. First the lighthouses of course. It was possible to go up in one of them so we did that. The views were great from there. At Arkona there is also a weather station. Actually the weather in Arkona is reported in the sea weather report in the Swedish radio three times a day so quite many Swedes know Arkona exits but don’t have a clue where it is. Last but not least there was an old military bunker hidden underground in Arkona. We took a tour of the facility and got to walk through the bunkers. Again, not a waste of time because it was good fun walking through the concrete tunnels.
When we left Rügen we drove through the town Stralsund
. We stopped there for a few hours and walked around in the historical city center.
Ruined section of Prora
After the war they even began to tear down the buildings because they didn’t see how they could use this gigantic construction to anything.
Stralsund was one of the cities that formed the trade union the Hanseatic League and the preserved houses from that time has given Stralsund a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We took the ferry back to Sweden from a city called Rostock. Not far from Rostock is Heiligendamm
, a seaside resort with a faded glory. Heiligendamm used to be the place to go if you were rich and powerful. However, the rich and powerful stopped coming, a World War followed by almost 45 years of communist rule came in the way, so many of the grand villas and hotels fell in disrepair. Now they are trying to restore Heiligendamm to its former glory. The Grand Hotel is once again grand and they have started a project where they plan to restore many of the magnificent villas.
One thing which has survived the communist era unscathed is the Molli Railway
. The Molli Railway is a narrow-gauge railway linking the three towns Bad Doberan, Heiligendamm and Kühlungsborn with each other. The Molli Railway is steam powered and in Bad Doberan it has a feature which makes it unique. The railway runs through the town more
Building in Greifswald
Nice looking building in the city Greifswald. Although Griefswald, with its historical city centre dating back to when the city was part of the Hanseatic League, is a place worth visiting it was not on our itinerary for this trip. We only stopped there for breakfast and had a quick walk around
like a tram than a railway.
Now I have given you the basics of what my mother and I did when we were in Germany. Hope you found our story from it interesting. I can assure you that we sure enjoyed experiencing it.
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