Thursday, August 22, 2013


weetuzoo's International Correspondant Amanda Carlson lands in Germany and learns that there is more to the Baltic Coast than boats, fish, and beer.

Next blog stop: Stralsund, Germany - Accessing Architecture
By Amanda Carlson

The city of Stralsund, on Germany’s Baltic Coast, is one of nearly thirty cities on the European Route of Brick Gothic buildings, a historic trail that stretches across seven countries – Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. 

As a successful Hanseatic port city between the 13th and 15th Centuries, Stralsund’s residents constructed numerous buildings – homes, churches, and a town hall, among others – that are now appreciated as shining examples of the brick Gothic style that characterized the architecture of this period.  

Walking around the city, it was at the end of a visit with my mom and sister that we came across a series of waist-level reliefs of the city’s most famous buildings.  What we first saw as a nice side-by-side rendering of important structures revealed itself to serve a greater purpose.  My sister, the German-speaker among us, reported that the reliefs were for intended for use by the blind and visually impaired. 

As far as I can remember, I’ve never been on an architecture tour that provided a tactile guide.  Stralsund forced me to reflect on opportunities for disabled tourists and visitors.  I knew that touch tours existed in some museums, but I couldn’t think of other street-level opportunities for blind and visually impaired tourists (and a quick web search yielded few results). 

Not only did the Stralsund relief serve the purpose of increasing access to the city’s architectural gems, but, hopefully, it might also act as an example to other cities of ways to make their architecture tours more inclusive through multi-sensory experiences. 

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