Port of Rostock
Review and History

The Port of Rostock is located in northeastern Germany on the Warnow River estuary about 13 kilometers south of shores of the Baltic Sea. The Port of Rostock’s economy is based largely on tourism, the local university, maritime industry, and services. Its most important industries include the shipyards, the famous IKEA, a major wind turbine manufacturer, a brewery, a German-Danish ferry operator, manufacturers of cranes and diesel engines for ships, a supplier of plant nutrients, and tourism-based companies dealing with transport, cruise planning and operations, and property. In 2003, almost 200 thousand people lived in the Port of Rostock.

Port History

An early Slavic, or Wendish, settlement called Roztoc existed on the site of the Port of Rostock in the 12th Century. In 1161, Danish King Valdemar I burned the town. The town was officially chartered in 1218.

After that, three separate cities arose: the Altstadt (Old Town), the Mittelstadt around the Neuer Markt (New Market), and Neustadt (New Town). In 1265, the Old Town, the hops market, and New Town were merged to create the modern Port of Rostock.

In the 14th Century, the Port of Rostock was an important member of the Hanseatic League and a major seaport. With about 12 thousand residents, the Port of Rostock was the biggest city in Mecklenburg. It was already producing ships that sailed the Baltic Sea. In 1419, Northern Europe’s oldest university was founded there. By the end of the 15th Century, quarrels between nobles and frequent plundering undermined the Port of Rostock’s important economic and political position.

Still, the Port of Rostock held an important strategic location, making it a prize for invaders. It was occupied by Danes, Swedes, and Napoleon during the 18th and 19th Centuries. In the first half of the 1800s, the Port of Rostock began to regain its economic influence. Its first important export was wheat, and the shipyards brought further growth after the 1850s. Germany’s first propeller-driven steamers were built in the shipyards there.

In about 1900, the Steintor-Vorstadt was built to house the growing affluent residential population, and Kropeliner-Tor-Vorstadt was constructed for workers and industrial facilities. The 20th Century brought new manufacturers of airplanes. The world’s first jet airplane was tested in the Port of Rostock, but the end of World War II brought the Port of Rostock’s airplane manufacturing to a halt.

Much of the Port of Rostock’s city center was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1942 and 1945. But the city was restored and expanded after the war, becoming an important seaport and industrial center for the German Democratic Republic. When Germany was reunified in the late 20th Century, the Port of Rostock lost its former privileges and became one of many German ports.

During the 1990s, the Port of Rostock suffered economic decline in spite of considerable investment. Population also dropped with emigration to richer regions in western Germany and suburbanization. However, the Port of Rostock has begun to grow again at the beginning of the 21st Century.

From the middle ages, the Port of Rostock has been an important Baltic Sea center for trade and movement of cargoes. It has a long history of trade with other Baltic regions, Scandanavia, and western and southern Europe. However, by the beginning of the 20th Century, it became disconnected from much of the German economy, and its influence shrunk from one of international scope to a local seaport.

After World War II, it was developed as the principal ocean port for East Germany, but reunification brought decline as other ports, particularly Hamburg, regained their trade routes. The Port of Rostock continues to be a ship-building center, and it has gained other industries like the manufacturing of diesel engines, electronic equipment, machinery, foodstuffs, and medical products. It is center for a large cattle breeding sector, and off-coast fishing is important. Crops raised in the area include rye, sugar beets, and oats. The shoreline around the Port of Rostock is a patchwork of cliffs and sand dunes dotted by tourist resorts, particularly at nearby Warnemunde.

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