During the Middle Ages, Lübeck is regarded as the capital of the Hanseatic League. Today it has numerous buildings in the Brick Gothic architectural style.
Lübeck’s Old Town is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Lübeck area has been settled since the Neolithic period. The town of Lübeck was founded in 1143 by Adolf II, Count of Schauenburg and Holstein. He built a castle there in 1147. However in 1158, Adolf had to cede his castle to Henry the Lion. Then Lübeck became an Imperial City within the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by Emperor Barbarossa. Lübeck continued to change hands in the 12th century. It was briefly controlled by the Duchy of Saxon until 1192. Then it became part of the County of Holstein until 1217. Following the Battle of Bornhöved in 1227, it was absorbed in Denmark.
Under the rule of Emperor Frederick II, Lübeck was elevated to Imperial Free City. It grew in power as the most important city of the Hanseatic League, and by the 14th century, earned the title of “Queen of the Hanseatic League”. Lübeck was at the height of its power in the 15th century, when the Hanseatic League won a number of conflicts. However, by the 16th century, particularly after a civil war with Denmark from 1534 to 1536, its power began to decline.
The Hanseatic League was also losing power, and in 1669, it was disbanded. It found itself in such dire straits that between 1811 and 1813, it was annexed as part of France. In 1937, the Nazis expanded the territories of Hamburg to absorb the surrounding towns including Lübeck – Hitler had a personal dislike over the town because it refused to allow him to campaign there some years back.
More misfortune fell on Lübeck with the start of the Second World War. It was one of the first German cities to be bombed by Allied forces. Following the end of the war, Lübeck was under British occupation. Lübeck became part of West Germany following the Cold War. During that time, the river Wakenitz separated Lübeck from East Germany.
Visiting Lübeck, Germany
Lübeck Airport (LBC) gets flights by Ryanair from London-Stansted. From the airport, you can take public bus number 6 to the Hauptbahnhof (main railway station). To go from the railway station to the airport, look for trains to Lübeck Flughafen.
If you’re coming by road from Hamburg, take Autobahn 1. From Kiel, take Autobahn 21 until Bad Segeberg-Nord, then continue on Route 206 (Bramstedter Landstraße) with connects to Autobahn 20 heading towards Lübeck.
The best way to explore Lübeck is to go on foot. The Old Town is quite compact with many of the historical buildings close to each other. If you have to travel greater distances, the city has a bus network as well as taxis.
Places of Interest in Lübeck, Germany
This lovely house was once the home of Nobel Prize-winning author Thomas Mann.
Castle gate on the northern part of the town limits.
The Lübeck Cathedral, began in 1173 and completed in 1230.
An interesting courtyard, or Höfe, through charming, narrow streets, on the eastern part of Lübeck.
- Haus der Schiffergesellschaft
House of the Marine Guild, dating to 1535, has a beautiful interior, today housing an elegant restaurant.
The Holy Ghost Hospital, built in the shape of the letter T, is the best preserved medieval building of its kind in Central Europe.
19th century Catholic church with a memorial to four clergymen executed by the Nazis for their opposition to the war.
The icon of Lübeck, this gate was once the only entrance into the city. It was built in 1466-78, at the height of the city’s glory.
15th century church with its beautiful Baroque features still well preserved and undamaged by World War II.
St Catherine’s Church is the only surviving monastic church by the Franciscans in Lübeck.
- Kunsthalle St-Annen
Museum housed in a former Augustinian convent showcasing the lifestyle and culture from the 13th to the 18th century in Lübeck.
The St Mary’s Church is bigger than the cathedral. It is situated behind the town hall.
The Church of St Peter is the only five-nave church in Lübeck.
The Lübeck Town House is also the most famous town house in Germany. It dates from 1226.
One of the most interesting patrician houses in Mengstrasse is No. 48, built in 1558, with a magnificent Baroque hall added in the 18th century.