Rostock is a proud seafaring town set out along the banks of the River Warnow, and is one of Germany's largest natural ports. Much of its early development understandably centred around the harbour, and before long Rostock was settled by traders, becoming a keen member of the Hanseatic League.
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This marked the start of its meteoric rise to prominence; by the 14th century it was the largest city in northern Germany, with an independent leadership and even a university, which was among the first in Europe. By the 20th century this wealthy city was richly decorated with many beautiful villas and fine Baroque buildings, as well as its classic medieval core of gabled Renaissance houses and charming market squares. As it was of such strategic importance, it naturally became a target for bombing in the Second World War.
However, escaping with relatively little damage, it quickly recovered and today much of Rostock's classic architecture remains in its attractive centre - and its intricate network of cobbled streets and broad boulevards are a delight to explore.