In Rostock’s city centre, the legend is recorded on a painting. It leads along the Warnow towards the North, to an old location.
Today, an historic monastery complex would have almost enriched the North West of Rostock. Turning off the Rostock-Warnemünde city motorway towards Schmarl, you will reach the parking area belonging to Hundsburg Park (a protected landscape). Just a few hundred metres to the east and through a path passing through the reeds, you will reach the hill by the water, where the Hundsburg stood 700 years ago.
A painting at the Abbey of the Holy Cross showing what people in the 16th Century imagined the Hundsburg to look like in 1266 is now depicted on a nine metre-long painting, which portrays the foundation history of the Cistercian convent at the Abbey of the Holy Cross. It hangs in the eastern cloister of the Cultural History Museum at the Universitätsplatz. A white dog (‘Hund’ in German) on the very dark picture, painted over in the 18th century, indicates the origin of the name. According to the legend, the Hundsburg was built where the dog belonging to a Danish princess (probably Margaret) once fell overboard and saved itself by swimming to the shore of the Warnow River. The shallow water of the castle grounds gives the story another modicum of truth. Looking from the elevated larch forest by the Warnow, or even better on a map, it is now clear that from this narrow part of the river, it would have been particularly easy to control shipping traffic from a castle.
It is also said that Queen Margaret of Denmark was returning to her home country from a pilgrimage to see the Pope and was stranded due to poor weather. According to the foundation deed of the Abbey of the Holy Cross, which was dated 22nd September 1270 (this date was probably falsified, with it being written earlier), Margaret wanted to thank her rescuers by having an abbey built at the site of the existing Hundsburg castle. The queen purchased the neighbouring ‘Schmarler Hof’ with four small farm sites to build an abbey. However, the queen was talked out of building the abbey here from various sides and it was recommended that she build it on the outskirts of Rostock, where the abbey can be seen today.
The castle hill within the boundaries of the abbey in Schmarl belonged to the City of Rostock. In 1307 it was purchased by the abbey in order to prevent the construction of a new castle. In 1582, the last remains of the Hundsburg walls were carried away and used in Warnemünde to construct the harbour. Allegedly, there are still some remnants on the hill. However, examinations of the site in recent years have mainly shown fragments from the Middle Ages.
Picture caption: Shallow Warnow shore by the Hundsburg, where the queen was possibly stranded. Rostock’s international port in the background.
Text, photo: Dr. Hartmut Schmied, www.hartmutschmied.com
Further fables and legends about Rostock and the area can be found in: Hartmut Schmied, Geister, Götter, Teufelssteine (Ghosts, Gods, Devil’s Stones). Sagen und Legendenführer MecklenburgVorpommern (Fable and Legend Guide Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Hinstorff Verlag, Rostock 2011 (sold at the tourist information desk) and at www.cryptoneum.de (CRYPTONEUM LegendenMuseum Rostock).
A good viewing spot would be:
The former Hundsburg site: The Rostock district of Schmarl (by the Warnow between Rostock and Warnemünde), south of the Warnow Tunnel, Schmarler Damm/corner of the Kolumbusring, parking area at Hundsburg Park (by the gardens), signposted footpath to the elevated ground on the shore of the Warnow River