Ruins that bring hope for a new era: Dargun Palace and Abbey in the heart of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern symbolises centuries of history with all its mortality and finitude. It retraces the past, but does not leave visitors feeling sad.
These ruins have borne witness to a chequered past, and yet they have a fascinating allure. They were once a castle, then a Cistercian abbey and finally a Renaissance palace. The abbey church was built on top of the former chapel and was converted into a Gothic hall church in the 13th century. Visitors need to use their imagination to envisage the days of old here.
The model of the abbey church and palace helps as it illustrates the size of the grounds. And yet, perhaps it is the unfinished version that fascinates visitors and offers them hope. The grounds were placed under monumental protection in 1979 and gradually rebuilt in 1994. The ownership of Dargun passed to the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in the 16th century. It was completely destroyed in the final days of World War II and had fallen into decline ever since. Yet life has now returned to the ruins. Part of the building houses the information bureau and town library. The covered nave has become a stage for cultural events.
The walls of the palace and abbey form an extraordinary backdrop for the summer concerts which attract music lovers year on year. Ultimately, visitors get a sense that they are in a palace when they take a stroll through the extensive park with its 300-year-old yew trees.
Opening hours: usually May to September
Nearest train station: Greifswald
Concerts and exhibitions are held in the church ruins and in the palace's inner courtyard in the summer months;
Tours available, booking required.
Call: +49 (0)39959 22381, www.dargun.de