Schwerin is the capital of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. With fewer than 100,000 residents, it is Germany`s smallest state capital. It`s location is idyllic - on the western and southern shores of Lake Schwerin. There are a total of twelve lakes within the city itself. Since it was founded in 1160, the city has been spreading out from the Schwerin Castle toward the north and south. The castle, home to the Mecklenburg ducal family until 1918, is now the city`s landmark, It is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Germany. The castle gardens with their overgrown arcades are an absolute highlight. Since 1990 the castle has served as the seat of the Mecklenburg parliament. On a stroll through the beautiful, historic old town, you should absolutely see the cathedral, the city hall and the Baroque Schelfkirche, or St. Nicholas Church. In the main building of the State Art Museum is a collection of French, German and Dutch paintings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. On the lake called Faulen See is the Schleifmühle, a reconstructed historical water mill. The best place to swim on Lake Schwerin is at the Zippendorfer Beach on the southern shores.