The Hanseatic City of Lübeck is the second-largest city in Schleswig -Holstein, in northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. It was for several centuries the “capital” of the Hanseatic League (“Queen of the Hanse”) and, because of its Brick Gothic architectural heritage, is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Situated on the river Trave, Lübeck is the largest German port on the Baltic Sea. The old part of the town is an island enclosed by the Trave. The Elbe–Lübeck Canal connects the Trave with the Elbe River. Another important river near the town centre is the Wakenitz. The Autobahn 1 connects Lübeck with Hamburg and Denmark (Vogelfluglinie). The borough of Travemünde is a sea resort and ferry port on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Its central station links Lübeck to a number of lines, notably the line to Hamburg.
Lübeck is very famous for its excellent marzipan industry, and according to local legend, Marzipan was first made in Lübeck possibly in response to either a military siege of the city, or a famine year. The story, perhaps apocryphal, is that the town ran out of all foods except stored almonds and sugar, and used these to make loaves of marzipan “bread”. Others believe that marzipan was actually invented in Persia a few hundred years before Lübeck claims to have invented it. The best known producer is Niederegger, which tourists often visit while in Lübeck, especially at Christmas time. The Lübeck wine trade dates back to Hanseatic times. One Lübeck specialty is Rotspon, wine made from grapes processed and fermented in France and transported in wooden barrels to Lübeck, where it is stored, aged and bottled.
Much of the old town has kept a medieval look with old buildings and narrow streets. The town once could only be entered by passing one of four town gates, of which two remain today, the well-known Holstentor (1478) and the Burgtor (1444). The old town centre is dominated by seven church steeples. The oldest ones are the Lübecker Dom (the city’s cathedral) and the Marienkirche (Saint Mary’s), both from the 13th and 14th centuries.
Other sights include:
- the Lübecker Rathaus (Town Hall).
- Saint Catherine Church, Lübeck, a church that belonged to a former monastery, now the Katharineum, a Latin school.
- Thomas Mann’s house.
- Günter Grass’ house.
- Church of St. Peter (“Petrikirche”).
- Church of St. Lawrence, located on the site of a cemetery of people who died during the 16th century plague.
- Church of St. Jacob (Lübecker Jakobikirche, 1334).
- Church of St. Aegidien (“Aegidienkirche”).
- the Salzspeicher, historic warehouses where salt delivered from Lüneburg awaited shipment to Baltic ports.
Like many other places in Germany, Lübeck has a long tradition of a Christmas market in December, which includes the famous handicrafts market inside the Heiligen-Geist-Hospital (Hospital of the Holy Spirit), located at the northern end of Königstrasse.