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With around 30,000 inhabitants, Güstrow is the seventh largest city in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the district town of the Rostock district. The city is the seat of the Güstrow-Land office, to which 14 municipalities belong, but are not officially themselves. It is one of the 18 medium-sized centers in the country and has officially been named “Barlachstadt” after the sculptor Ernst Barlach since 2006.

As a historic residential town, Güstrow is known for its castle, its well-preserved old town with many valuable buildings and its cathedral with the "floating" from Barlach. The cathedral school in Güstrow, founded in 1236, is one of the oldest schools in the German-speaking area, and since 1991 the city has also been the seat of the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration, Police and Justice of the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Güstrow is located about 40 kilometers south of the Rostock an der Nebel regiopolis, a tributary of the Warnow in central Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The Bützow-Güstrow Canal, which runs parallel to the Nebel to the west, is a navigable connection to the Warnow used by water tourists. North of the Güstrow district of Klueß, the Lößnitz flows into the Nebel. With its lakes (Inselsee with the Schöninsel, Sumpfsee, Parumer See, Grundloser See and Gliner See) and the Heidbergen, Güstrow has an area rich in lakes and forests.

The area around and in Güstrow is very deep, an average of 14 m above sea level. NN. The highest elevations are to be found southeast of the city with the Rehberg (55.1 m above sea level), the Mesterberg (54.8 m), the highest point of which, however, is already just beyond the municipal boundary and the Heidberge, which is up to 46.9 meters high . The deepest points are in the west on the banks of the Parumer See, whose water level is only 3.6 meters above that of the sea, and the Bützow-Güstrow Canal, which crosses the city limits there.

The hilly landscape around Güstrow is a glacial terminal moraine landscape, which was mainly shaped by the most recent Ice Age, the Vistula Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago. The characteristics of an earlier Ice Age can be found all around Güstrow: the Heidberge as terminal moraine, the many former meltwater lakes and some boulders that were dragged along from Scandinavia over the Baltic Sea during the Ice Age.