Home > Germany > Binz – the seaside resort with flair!

Binz – the seaside resort with flair!

A fishing village which has turned into one of the most exclusive resorts for well-heeled Germans – and where Hitler had dreams of building the world’s largest beach resort – Binz might be famous in the German-speaking world, but this Baltic Sea gem is often overlooked by foreigners.

pier

View of Binz’s promenade from the 370-meter-long pier. Photo: Kurverwaltung Binz

If, like me, you land in Binz – on the island of Rügen – with absolutely no expectations (especially about the weather), you’re going to get a surprise – a very pleasant one. First of all, when you enter the town, you’ll fall in love with the delicate villas with their decorative gables, balconies and verandas, giving them a colonial-style flair. It makes you feel like you are somewhere more exotic than the Baltic Sea coast. Binz is a perfect example of German resort architecture (Bäderarchitektur) which is a mix of Art Nouveau and historicism styles. But, don’t be fooled, even though the buildings might look dainty, there is often a core of stone behind the wooden exterior.

architecture

Exquisite villas and manicured gardens. Photo: Kurverwaltung Binz, Björn Hänssler

Then, there is the weather. For some strange reason, Binz actually has one of the lowest volumes of rainfall in Germany. Some say that it even gets the most hours of sunshine. I don’t know if this is true but my last two visits to Binz – in autumn and spring – were completely rain-free while it bucketed rain everywhere else in Germany.

The Prora – like it or loathe it
And, the third surprise is for history fanatics. Binz is home to the 4.5-kilometer Prora resort, set just 150 meters from the seafront. This massive building is a masterpiece of Third Reich architecture. Hitler had plans to make it into the largest beach resort in the world with over 20,000 beds, swimming pools, cinema, theater and a dock for passenger ships; in the event of a war, he planned to use it as a military hospital. However, his dreams never materialized and the building lay derelict for many years after the reunification of Germany.

Today, it’s slowly being redeveloped –it already houses a youth hostel and Documentation Center with plans to convert other parts of the building into apartments and hotels in the near future. But, for every person who is intrigued by this historic cement block, there’s another who hates it for its Nazi-past and some locals fear the development plans risk overcrowding the area with tourists.

prora

The 4.5-kilometer long Prora just 150 meters from the shore. Photo: Grabowski (www.luftbildruegen.de) 

Over 700 years of history
Binz has been through many ups and downs during the course of history. The fishing village was originally known as Byntze but, by the end of the 19th century, it had become an official bathing resort for the rich and famous. What made it distinctive was the absence of large hotels; instead visitors stayed in cozy family-run guesthouses. As road and rail connections improved – and word about the beauty of its white sandy beaches spread – Binz became more and more popular.

Sadly, the town suffered a setback when Eastern Germany – and the island of Rügen – fell under Communist rule. After 1953, all the privately owned guesthouses were taken over by the state and used for cheap holidays for trade union members. The Prora became a barracks for the Volkspolizei (People’s Police) and later the Nationale Volksarmee (National People’s Army). Fortunately, after the reunification of Germany, many of these villas were returned to their rightful owners and the town was restored to its former glory.

Strolling along the long promenade, admiring the quaint villas on one side and the white sandy beach on the other, or standing 370 meters out at sea on the pier watching the waves rolling in the moonlight, you cannot help but fall in love with Binz. It’s like a little bubble tucked away in its own world; a place of calm (except in July and August which is peak tourist season) where you can leave the rest of the world behind you.

Don’t miss …
If you manage to drag yourself away from the seafront, there are two other attractions well worth a visit. The first is the Jasmund National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site which is home to Germany’s white chalk cliffs, (Kreidefelsen in German) and frequently named one of the top sights in Germany. It’s best to see them sooner rather than later because experts warn that the cliffs are starting to erode due to heavy rainfall and strong storms during recent winters. These cliffs often feature in the works of German Romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich, who spent a lot of time in the area in the early 19th century. The second is the Granite Hunting Lodge (Jagdschloss Granitz), built in the heyday of classicism with cast iron spiral staircase and a marble hall. There’s a great panoramic view of Rügen from its 144-meter high observation tower.

rugards

Rugard’s Gourmet restaurant: Fresh, local produce at its best.

Restaurant tip
It might not look like the most appealing restaurant in Binz from the outside (competition amongst the restaurants in Binz is tough), but the food at Rugard’s restaurants in the Rugard Strandhotel – and the view – is amazing. Not to mention the cake/dessert trolley, their fresh fish and impeccable service. Rugard’s Gourmet, Restaurant Bernstein and Rugard’s Terrace are three different restaurants but with equally delicious food, depending on your budget.

Read more about Binz

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Categories: Germany
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