Lübeck is my favorite German city. I still can’t forget all the tall spires, city gates, hidden squares and sculptures. Lübeck was a very important city in the Middle Ages when it was the capital and largest city of the Hanseatic League. In the 12th Century it became a base for merchants from Saxony and Westphalia. Hence, the city was a role model for other cities across the region. In fact, Lübeck was so important that it became the main trade centre in Northern Europe until the 16th century.
Lübeck Island and City Gates
Although heavily bombed during II World War, Lübeck’s medieval heritage is one of the best preserved in Germany. Congratulations on the brilliant reconstruction! Most of the historical architecture is located on a small island in the middle of Trave River. It is full of typical medieval merchant houses: multi-storey buildings with steep roofs and crow-stepped gables mostly made of red or brown bricks. The island can be reached through two historical city gates Holstentor and Burgtor. There used to be four gates, but two didn’t survive the test of time.
I spent all my time on the island, which still serves as Lübeck’s city center. The quantity and quality of meticulously preserved heritage took me directly to the middle ages! Apart from the numerous noblemen’s houses, I saw plenty of churches, warehouses and the magnificent Lübeck Town Hall, the former seat of the League. I visited the 13th century Romanesque turned Gothic Lübeck Cathedral. I also saw the St. Mary’s Church (Marienkirche), and St. Catherine’s Church (Katharinenkirche), both from the 14th century.
World Heritage Site
UNESCO included Lübeck in its World Heritage list in 1981, mentioning the outstanding buildings from the Hanseatic League. The most authentic areas exemplify the power and historic role of the League. However, after the glorious Middle Ages Lübeck never regained importance, and was eventually overshadowed by its larger neighbor, Hamburg.
Perhaps its better this way, otherwise it would be packed with tourists. Just picture it: you crossing the 15th century City Gate into an enchanted island where life still goes as it did centuries ago. And there are not too many tourists to ruin to atmosphere. Or better still, don’t imagine it, go and visit Lübeck like I did!