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Visiting Luebeck, northern Germany: cultural gem and sedate Queen of the Hansa

Updated on March 3, 2016
Flag of Germany
Flag of Germany | Source
The Holsten Gate
The Holsten Gate | Source
The city's Cathedral spires seen from the Trave River
The city's Cathedral spires seen from the Trave River | Source
Map location of Luebeck and its Baltic Sea outlet
Map location of Luebeck and its Baltic Sea outlet | Source

Home of Willy Brandt, Thomas Mann and leading city of the Hanseatic League

It is hard to imagine the course of German history without the part that Lübeck has played, done the centuries. Even in the 20th century, people from Lübeck who have made their outstanding mark include Nobel Literature prizewinner Thomas Mann, and Willy Brandt, Federal German Chancellor 1969-1974. When I visited Lübeck there was much already to commemorate Thomas Mann: his house in the city is a museum. Since I was in this beautiful and historic city, Willy-Brandt-Haus now commemorates the life of this remarkable leader. A further museum is the Guenter-Grass-Haus relating to another Nobel Prizewinning novelist, for whom it is named.

The Hanseatic League's 200 cities greatly contributed to much of Northern Europe's prosperity already in the Middle Ages, and Lübeck was regarded as the chief city of the League. Lübeck's numerous, carefully preserved and restored buildings testify to that longstanding prosperity and deep-seated historicity.

So: be prepared to be overwhelmed by Luebeck.

The Holsten Gate

One of Luebeck's major landmarks is the Holsten Gate, which is probably one of the most famous structures in Germany, hardly less well known than Cologne's Cathedral and Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. It was completed in 1478.

The Holsten Gate (das Holstentor ) appeared on Deutsche Mark banknotes, prior to that currency's absorption by the Euro.

At the Gate, now a museum, there is a permanent exhibition about Brick Gothic, with sponsorship assistance from the nearby German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (formerly part of East Germany, near the former border with which Luebeck is situated.

Other noted buildings

Luebeck has numerous other noted buildings, but these include:

The spired Cathedral (Luebecker Dom ), built mainly in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.

The Marienkirche, in Gothic brick style, built in the 13th and 14th centuries, with twin spires each nearly 125 metres high.

The Trave River and Travemuende

The nearby port of Travemuende (literally, the mouth of the Trave) has belonged to the city of Luebeck since the Middle Ages. It has an interesting old lighthouse, dating from 1539.

At Luebeck, the Trave River links with the Elbe-Luebeck Canal. Ferry links with the Swedish port of Trelleborg are maintained from Travemuende, on the Baltic Sea (German: die Ostsee , literally, the eastern sea).

Also worth seeing:

Hamburg (distance: 67 kilometres) has cultural and architectural treasures too numerous to mention, but these include the 1897 City Hall (Das Rathaus ), built in Neo-Renaissance style. The City Hall is located near the Binnenalster Lake. The Michaeliskirche , originally completed in 1669, with its copper spire, is a major landmark in the port area of the city; C.P.E.Bach, son of J.S.Bach, and a noted composer in his own right, is buried in the church.


How to get there: Lufthansa flies from New York Newark airport to Hamburg Airport (Flughafen Hamburg ), where car hire is available. For North American travellers making the London, England area their base, Ryanair flies from London Stansted Airport to Luebeck Airport (Flughafen Luebeck ), where care hire is available. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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