Main Births etc
Holstentor, emblem of the city
Country Germany
State Schleswig-Holstein
Admin. region
District Urban districts of Germany
First mentioned
Subdivisions 35 Stadtbezirke
 • Mayor Bernd Saxe (SPD)
 • Governing parties CDU
 • Total 214.13 km2 (82.68 sq mi)
Elevation 13 m (43 ft)
Population (2010-12-31)[1]
 • Total 210,232
 • Density 980/km2 (2,500/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 23501−23570
Dialling codes 0451, 04502
Vehicle registration HL (1906–1937; since 1956)[2]
Hanseatic City of Lübeck*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lubeck panorama.JPG
Aerial view of the old town
State Party Germany
Type Cultural
Criteria iv
Reference 272
Region Europe and North America
Inscription History
Inscription 1987  (11th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
Region as classified by UNESCO.

The Hanseatic City of Lübeck (pronounced [ˈlyːbɛk]  ( listen), Low German [ˈlyːbɛːk]) is the second-largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. Situated on the river Trave, it was for several centuries the "capital" of the Hanseatic League ("Queen of the Hanse"). Because of its extensive Brick Gothic architecture, it is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In 2005 it had a population of 213,983.

The old part of Lübeck is on 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 railway lines, notably the line to Hamburg.


The area around Lübeck was settled after the last Ice Age. Several Neolithic dolmens can be found in the area.

Around AD 700 Slavic peoples started coming into the eastern parts of Holstein, which had previously been settled by Germanic inhabitants; the latter had moved on in the course of the Migration Period. In the early 9th century Charlemagne, whose efforts to Christianise the area were opposed by the Saxons, expelled the Saxons out and brought in Polabian Slavs, allied to Charlemagne, in their stead. Liubice ("lovely") was founded on the banks of the river Trave about four kilometres (2.5 miles) north of the present-day city centre of Lübeck. In the 10th century it became the most important settlement of the Obotrite confederacy and a castle was built. The settlement was burned down in 1128 by the pagan Rani from Rügen.

The modern town was founded as a German settlement in 1143 by Adolf II, Count of Schauenburg and Holstein, on the river island Bucu. He built a new castle, which was first mentioned by Helmold in 1147. Adolf had to cede the castle to Henry the Lion in 1158. After Henry's fall from power in 1181, the town became an Imperial city for eight years. Emperor Barbarossa ordained that the city should have a ruling council of twenty members. With the council dominated by merchants, Lübeck's politics were led by pragmatic trade interests for centuries to come. The council survived into the 19th century.

The town and castle changed ownership for a period afterwards and were part of the Duchy of Saxony until 1192, of the County of Holstein until 1217, and as part of Denmark until the Battle of Bornhöved in 1227.

Lübeck's seal, 1280

Around 1200 the port became the main point of departure for colonists leaving for the Baltic territories conquered by the Livonian Order and, later, Teutonic Order. In 1226 Emperor Frederick II elevated the town to the status of an Imperial Free City, by which it became the Free City of Lübeck.

In the 14th century Lübeck became the "Queen of the Hanseatic League", being by far the largest and most powerful member of this mediaeval trade organization. In 1375, Emperor Charles IV named Lübeck one of the five "Glories of the Empire", a title shared with Venice, Rome, Pisa and Florence. Several conflicts about trade privileges were fought by Lübeck and the Hanseatic League against Denmark and Norway with varying outcomes. While Lübeck and the Hanseatic League prevailed in conflicts in 1435 and 1512, Lübeck lost when it became involved in the Count's Feud, a civil war that raged in Denmark from 1534 to 1536. Lübeck also joined the Schmalkaldic League.

After its defeat in the Count's Feud, Lübeck's power slowly declined. The city remained neutral in the Thirty Years' War, but, the combination of the devastation from the decades-long war and the new transatlantic orientation of European trade, caused the Hanseatic League and thus Lübeck to decline in importance. But, after the Hanseatic League was de facto disbanded in 1669, Lübeck still remained an important trading town on the Baltic Sea.

The great Danish-German composer Dieterich Buxtehude (born in what is present-day Sweden) was appointed as the organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck in 1668 and served in the post until at least 1703.

In the course of the war of the Fourth Coalition against Napoleon, troops under Bernadotte occupied the neutral Lübeck after a battle against Blücher on November 6, 1806. Under the Continental System, the bank went into bankruptcy. From 1811 to 1813, Lübeck was formally annexed as part of France until the Vienna Congress of 1815.

In 1937 the Nazis passed the so-called Greater Hamburg Act, whereby the nearby Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg was expanded, to encompass towns that had formally belonged to the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. To compensate Prussia for these losses (and partly because Hitler had a personal dislike for Lübeck after it had refused to allow him to campaign there in 1932[3]), Hitler ended the 711-year-long independence of Lübeck, and ensured that almost all its territory was incorporated into Schleswig-Holstein.

Lübeck, 16th century

Lübeck in 1641

During World War II, Lübeck was the first German city to be attacked in substantial numbers by the Royal Air Force (RAF). The attack on 28 March 1942 created a firestorm that caused severe damage to the historic centre. The Bombing of Lübeck in World War II destroyed three of the main churches and greater parts of the built-up area. Germany operated a POW camp for officers, Oflag X-C, near the city from 1940 until April 1945. The British Second Army entered Lübeck on 2 May 1945 and occupied it without resistance.

On 3 May 1945, one of the biggest disasters in naval history occurred in the Bay of Lübeck when RAF bombers sank three ships: the SS Cap Arcona, the SS Deutschland, and the SS Thielbek - which, unknown to them, were packed with concentration-camp inmates. About 7,000 people were killed.

Lübeck's population grew considerably from about 150,000 in 1939 to more than 220,000 after the war, owing to an influx of ethnic German refugees expelled from eastern Europe, the so-called former Eastern provinces of Germany.

Lübeck remained part of Schleswig-Holstein after the war (and consequently lay within West Germany). It was situated directly on what became the inner German border during the division of Germany into two states in the Cold War period. South of the city, the border followed the path of the river Wakenitz, which separated the Germanys by less than 10 m (32.81 ft) in many parts. The northernmost border crossing was in Lübeck's district of Schlutup. Lübeck spent decades restoring its historic city centre. In 1987 this area was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lübeck was the scene of a notable art scandal in the 1950s. Lothar Malskat was hired to restore the medieval frescoes of the cathedral of the Marienkirche, which were discovered after the cathedral had been badly damaged during World War II. Instead he painted new works which he passed off as restorations, fooling many experts. The West German government printed 2 million postage stamps depicting the frescoes. Among Malskat's additions were wild turkeys, unknown in Europe during the Middle Ages. Some experts initially considered this evidence for the early discovery of America by the Vikings. Malskat later revealed the deception himself. Günter Grass featured this incident in his novel The Rat.

On the night of January 18, 1996, a fire broke out in a home for foreign refugees, killing 10 people and severely injuring more than 30 others, mostly children. Most of the shelter's inhabitants thought it was a racist attack, as they had encountered other overt hostility in the city.[4] The police and the local court were criticized at the time for ruling out racism as a possible motive before even beginning preliminary investigations.[5] The perpetrators have not been caught.


As of 2010, the city had a population of 210,232, a slight decrease since 2006. The largest ethnic minority groups are Turks, Southern Europeans (mostly Greeks and Italians), Eastern Europeans (e.g. Poles, Russians), Arabs and several smaller groups. As in numerous other German cities, there is also a growing and vibrant Afro-German community.[6] Population structure[7]

Ancestry Number Percentage
Germans 176,650 84%
Turks 11,200 5,3%
Eastern Europeans 5,500 (3,000 Poles, 1,100 Russians, 1,400 others.) 2,6%
Southern Europeans 3,300 (1,300 Greeks, 1,000 Italians, 1,000 others.) 1,5%
Arabs 3,000 (1,000 Iraqis, 2,000 others.) 1,4%
East Asians 3,000 (500 Chinese, 2,500 others.) 1,4%
African/Afro-Germans 2,600 (500 Ghanaians, 400 Nigerians, 1,700 others.) 1,2%
others 5,460 2,6%

Main sights[]

St. Mary's Church, Lübeck

Town Hall

Fehmarnbelt Lightship in front of the Concert and Congress Center

Hospital of the Holy Spirit, one of the oldest social institutions of Lübeck (1260)

A typical crow-stepped gabled town house


Much of the old town has kept a medieval appearance with old buildings and narrow streets. At one time the town could only be entered via any of four town gates, of which today two remain, the well-known Holstentor (1478) and the Burgtor (1444).

The old town centre is dominated by seven church steeples. The oldest 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 for people who died during the 16th century plague.
  • Church of St. Jacob (Lübecker Jakobikirche, 1334).
  • Church of the Sacred Heart (Propsteikirche Herz Jesu)
  • 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.


Lübeck has many small museums, such as the St. Annen Museum, the Behnhaus and the Holstentor. Lübeck Museum of Theatre Puppets is a privately run museum. Waterside attractions are a lightvessel that served Fehmarnbelt and the Lisa von Lübeck, a reconstruction of a Hanseatic 15th century caravel.

Food and drink[]

Lübeck is famous for its marzipan industry. According to local legend, marzipan was first made in Lübeck, possibly in response either to a military siege of the city or a famine year. The story, perhaps apocryphal, is that the town ran out of all food except stored almonds and sugar, which were used 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.


Lübeck has three universities, the University of Lübeck, the Lübeck Academy of Applied Sciences, and the Lübeck Academy of Music. The Graduate School for Computing in Medicine and Life Sciences is a central faculty of the University and was founded by the German Excellence Initiative. The International School of New Media is an affiliated institute of the University.

Notable people[]

  • Robert Christian Avé-Lallemant - explorer
  • Hans Blumenberg – philosopher
  • Willy Brandt – chancellor
  • Ephraim Carlebach – rabbi
  • Felix Carlebach – rabbi
  • Joseph Carlebach – rabbi
  • Friedrich Matthias Claudius - anatomist
  • Björn Engholm – politician
  • Walter Ewers - flying ace
  • Christian Friedrich Heinecken – child prodigy
  • Godfrey Kneller – painter
  • Heinrich Mann – novelist
  • Thomas Mann – novelist
  • John Rugee – politician
  • Sandra Völker – swimmer
  • Justus von Dohnányi - actor
  • Jörg Wontorra - sport journalist
  • Dieterich Buxtehude – composer and organist
  • Patrick Zimmerman - Soccer star at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, GA
  • Günter Grass (born in Danzig in 1927 / Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999)
  • João Carlos Antonio Frederico Zerrenner - Enterprising/ Industrial in Brazil ( Born 1843)


The city of Lübeck is divided into 10 zones. These again are arranged into altogether 35 urban districts. The 10 zones with their official numbers, their associated urban districts and the numbers of inhabitants of the quarters:

  • 01 City center (~ 12,000 Inhabitants)
  • 02 St. Jürgen (~ 40,000 Inhabitants)
    • Hüxtertor / Mühlentor / Gärtnergasse, Strecknitz / Rothebek, Blankensee, Wulfsdorf, Beidendorf, Krummesse, Kronsforde, Niederbüssau, Vorrade, Schiereichenkoppel, Oberbüssau
  • 03 Moisling (~ 10,000 Inhabitants)
    • Niendorf / Moorgarten, Reecke, Old-Moisling / Genin
  • 04 Buntekuh (~ 10,000 Inhabitants)
  • 05 St. Lorenz-South (~ 12,000 Inhabitants)
  • 06 St. Lorenz-North (~ 40,000 Inhabitants)
    • Holstentor-North, Falkenfeld / Vorwerk / Teerhof, Großsteinrade / Schönböcken, Dornbreite / Krempelsdorf
  • 07 St. Gertrud (~ 40,000 Inhabitants)
    • Burgtor / Stadtpark, Marli / Brandenbaum, Eichholz, Karlshof / Israelsdorf / Gothmund
  • 08 Schlutup (~ 6,000 Inhabitants)
  • 09 Kücknitz (~ 20,000 Inhabitants)
    • Dänischburg / Siems / Rangenberg / Wallberg, Herrenwyk, Alt-Kücknitz / Dummersdorf / Roter Hahn, Poeppendorf
  • 10 Travemünde (~ 15,000 Inhabitants)
    • Ivendorf, Alt-Travemünde / Rönnau, Priwall, Teutendorf, Brodten

The industrial Lübeck-Herrenwyk area was until the beginning of the 1990s the location of a big metallurgical plant. The gas produced by this plant was used for making electricity in the Lübeck-Herrenwyk power station. In 1992, the Lübeck-Herrenwyk power station was demolished after the bankruptcy and demolition of the metallurgical plant and since 1994 its site houses the static inverter plant of the HVDC Baltic Cable.

International relations[]

Lübeck is twinned with:

Lubec, Maine, the easternmost town in the United States, is named after Lübeck.

See also[]

  • Cap Arcona
  • Lübeck Airport
  • Lübeck Hauptbahnhof
  • Lübeck Nordic Film Days
  • Lübeck law
  • Lübeck Waste Treatment Facility
  • Lübecker Nachrichten is Lübeck's only newspaper
  • Oberschule zum Dom
  • Ports of the Baltic Sea
  • Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival
  • VfB Lübeck, football and sports club


  1. ^ "Statistikamt Nord: Bevölkerung in Schleswig-Holstein am 31. Dezember 2010 nach Kreisen, Ämtern, amtsfreien Gemeinden und Städten" (in German). Statistisches Amt für Hamburg und Schleswig-Holstein. 31 December 2010. 
  2. ^ Vehicles registered between 1937 and 1956 were given prefixes valid for all of Schleswig-Holstein: "I P" (1937–1945), "S" (1945–1947), "SH" (1947 only), "BS" (1948–1956).
  3. ^ "Lübeck: The town that said no to Hitler", Simon Heffer,, Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  4. ^ "Brandspuren im Gesicht, Ermittlungen zur Lübecker Asylheim-Katastrophe", Der Spiegel, 23/1996, June 3rd, 1996.
  5. ^ Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, March 5th, 2005
  6. ^ "A I 2 - vj 4/10 S" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Hassinen, Raino. "Kotka - International co-operation: Twin Cities". City of Kotka. Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  9. ^ "La Rochelle: Twin towns". Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  10. ^ "Kontakty partnerskie Miasta Szczecin" (in Polish). Urząd Miasta Szczecin. Archived from the original on 2012-08-18. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 

External links[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Lübeck. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.