In desperate need of a break from the torrid August weather of Northern Italy, we went to the cooler climes of the city of Lübeck in Northern Germany for a few days.
Hanseatic – what’s that?
Lübeck was once the capital of the Hanseatic League, a powerful trading bloc that operated along the coast of Northern Europe between the 13th and 17th centuries. Hanseatic is a word you hear and see A LOT in Lübeck.
To the tourist, the Hanseatic heritage means that Lübeck has a rich maritime history which is reflected in many of the city’s monuments and structures. And since Lübeck was the Hanseatic capital, the city is grander than the average European market town.
Lübeck has very striking buildings. The houses, with their stepped gable roofs, reminded me of Anne Frank’s house, though I’ve never been to Amsterdam.
The city boasts at least 7 churches, each with a story to tell. At Marienkirche (St Mary’s), legend has it that during the construction of the church, the devil was tricked into believing that a winehouse was being built.
Compared with Italian churches, the interiors of the churches in Lübeck are sparsely decorated. You can see the bare bones of the immense buildings and the eye is always drawn upwards.
Images of Lübeck’s buildings are everywhere throughout the city – in souvenir shops, of course, but also in people’s homes and in public buildings.
I resisted buying a souvenir until the very last day of our short visit. But our last day was Sunday, when all the shops were shut! (Just as well I’d taken over 100 photos with my iPhone.)
The most iconic building in Lübeck is the Holstentor, a medieval gate with two towers. We visited the museum inside the Holstentor and got a feel for Hanseatic (that unavoidable word again) history.
Like the houses and churches of Lübeck, the Holstentor has been reproduced, artistically, in a variety of visual forms. Why? Because it’s unique, quirky, historic and once upon a time it was functional?
I think you get the picture!
More blog posts to come on the enchanting city of Lübeck.