germany in january: lübeck

February 10, 2008


the holstentor, lübeck’s trademark structure and one of the two remaining main gates to the medieval city

the last stop on my germany trip was lübeck, a small town in northern germany that i learned about when i was a ta for brian mclaren’s renaissance, gothic and romanesque architectural history class. the city was for several hundred years the head of the hanseatic league of cities and is now a unesco world heritage site, celebrated for its historical importance for european trade and its fine examples of brick gothic architecture. it’s also supposedly the european birthplace of marzipan (not sure what that means, because i think it’s originally from asia) – so there are lots of marzipan shops, yum. i also learned while i was there that three nobel prize winners are from lübeck – thomas mann, willy brandt, and günter grass, so it’s steeped in history, significance, and confection. lübeck is really close to the danish border, so i thought that this would be a good chance to visit. it was really fun, and i think that the three cities i chose made a really good assortment of travel/architectural/urban interest destinations. the train ride back from lübeck to copenhagen was excellent, as the train i was on actually boarded a ferry (yep, tracks right onto the boat…it was a short train) to cross the sound between puttgarden and rødby. awesome. i put a couple of photos at the end of the post in which i tried to capture the ferry-boarding experience.


another view of the holstentor, the main southern gate (there used to be four gates; two remain today). this is how i entered the medieval city coming from the train station. also a detail shot of the gate.


some of that fine brick gothic architecture


the medieval city is surrounded by a moat and a lovely ring of moatside park area


looking from the medieval city toward lübeck’s port facilities


here is the other remaining (north) gate, the burgtor. both of the gates were built in the 1400s – the model in the foreground shows how it used to look with its portcullis…!


the main city square, with the town hall in the background; the large circular holes in the upper facades allow for improved wind resistance, so that the buildings won’t be blown over.


i believe (if i remember correctly from architectural history) that the gold emblems on the rathaus facade represented different merchant guilds, and show the importance of trade to the city. the photo on the right is a view of the “back” side of the rathaus.


thursday market in the main square/a small bronze model of the medieval city


the niederegger marzipan shop – a treasure trove of delicious almond-flavored desserts. there was an impressive marzipan recreation of lübeck’s architectural icons in the front window.


the side stairs leading up to lübecker dom, the city’s main catherdral


twin spires of lübecker dom


a wet lübeck cityscape (left)/and one more view of the cathedral (right)


some fun details – arches over the tiny streets, and the ‘kaak,’ a small pavilion in the main square


the st. jacobi church and square


some examples of the red brick gothic architecture


i liked how the scaffolding followed the shape of the facade on this building : ) (a tectonic-tourist moment)


ok, here are the train photos that i promised. it was a little difficult to capture, but in the photo on the left, you can see the train approaching the ferry through the window, and then on the right is when i had to get off the train once it was on the ferry for the duration of the crossing. kind of like bringing your car on the bainbridge ferry…but not quite.


3 Responses to “germany in january: lübeck”

  1. burpeeh Says:

    yay, lübeck. someday, go back at christmas time. the markets are unbelievable. the northern germans know what the spirit of christmas really means. glüwein, bee’s wax candles, and st nikolaus. hmmmmm.

  2. […] a look at Lübeck to see what Mahlau was consistently translating in his work. Harvard’s “Busch-Reisinger […]

  3. limetime1 Says:

    Wonderful pictures! I’m thinking of visiting, and the pictures have convinced me to go!

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