Your very personal voyage of discovery
In 1987, the medieval heart of Lübeck’s Old Town was included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites of Humanity. The layout of the medieval town, preserved to this day, the historical buildings and the unmistakable cityscape with its five Gothic brick churches and seven spires were the deciding factors behind the decision to include an entire urban area in the list of heritage sites for the first time.
Embark on a round trip through Lübeck’s World Heritage Site! You will pass the most important monuments, and here and there you’ll find tips for a short rest or a particularly beautiful view. Off we go!
- Holsten Gate
Start your walk through the UNESCO World Heritage Site at what is probably Germany’s most famous city gate, Holsten Gate. Besides Castle Gate, the late Gothic double tower complex is Lübeck’s only surviving city gate and was built between 1464 and 1478 as part of the urban fortifications. Today, Holsten Gate is the emblem of Lübeck and it bears the Hanseatic city’s motto in golden letters that is still valid to this day: “CONCORDIA DOMI FORIS PAX” – “Harmony at home, Peace abroad” – Welcome to Lübeck!
Tip: Our Tourist Information Office with a coffee bar is right next door! Here you can obtain further information on Lübeck as well as a coffee speciality and pastry to fortify yourself before your walk.
- Salt Warehouses
Right beside Holsten Gate on the banks of the River Trave stand the historical Salt Warehouses, a group of warehouses built in the style of the Brick Renaissance which were used to store salt deliveries from Lüneberg via the Stecknitz canal completed in 1398. From Lübeck, the salt was sent on to Scandinavia by ship. A highly lucrative business for the Hanseatic city and the foundation of its wealth in those days, the salt was essential for conserving many foods.
Tip: Just a few minutes’ walk from the Salt Warehouses is Painters’ Corner (Malerwinkel) near the footbridge: the perfect spot for your picnic with a view of the colourful gabled houses on the Upper Trave.
The cathedral is one of Lübeck’s oldest buildings. To this day, its two high spires dominate the city's silhouette. After Lübeck became the bishop’s see in 1160, Henry the Lion initiated the construction of the three-aisled Romanesque vaulted basilica to succeed the wooden church previously located there. The cathedral was converted and expanded several times. Lübeck Cathedral houses numerous works of art such as the 17-metre Triumphal Cross by Bernt Notke (1477), the rood screen and the baptismal font dating back to 1455. Since the Second World War, the famous altar by Hans Memling has been in the medieval collection of the Museum of Art and Cultural History in St. Anne’s Monastery.
- St. Anne's Monastery: Inside the World Heritage Site
How did citizens, merchants and craftsmen live and work in Lübeck in Hanseatic times? The permanent exhibition on the top floor of the 500-year-old St. Anne's Monastery provides the answer. The sequence of rooms staged there gives a flavour of everyday residential style with the example of a large gabled house with a side wing using in some cases original fixtures, ceilings and wall panelling. St. Anne's Museum also exhibits the largest collection of late medieval carved altars and sculptures from the period around 1500 in Germany.
- St. Giles’ Church
St. Giles’ Church at the heart of Lübeck’s artisan quarter is the smallest of the five famous Old Town churches. It was first mentioned in records in 1227. With its Gothic wall paintings, elements from the Baroque and Renaissance period as well as numerous works of art, this three-aisled, stepped hall church offers a special spatial experience. The choir which separates the apse from the nave, is the only surviving choir in Lübeck. Its most magnificent work of art is the early Baroque organ from 1624-1626. Originally, the church and the adjacent St. Giles’ Courtyard played a prominent role in social welfare, but today St. Giles’ Courtyard is used for residential purposes.
Tip: Before you continue directly to the next site, we recommend you make a small detour via Hüxstraße and Fleischhauerstraße. Here you will pass many, family-owned shops, restaurants and cafés.
- St. Catherine’s Church
St. Catherine’s Church is not one of the five Old Town churches whose seven spires dominate Lübeck’s cityscape as it was built as a former Franciscan monastery and thus as a monastery church and it had no spire from the beginning to the middle of the 14th century. St. Catherine’s church is the only one of the four former monastery churches in Lübeck which has been preserved, and today it can be experienced as a museum church. A painting by Tintoretto “The Raising of Lazarus” from 1576 is particularly worth seeing. The façade is adorned with terracotta figures by Ernst Barlach and Gerhard Marcks.
Tip: Take a look around the corner! At Glockengießerstraße 39 to 53, you will find Glandorps Courtyard, the oldest among Lübeck’s large, representational, sponsored courtyards, Glandorps Alley and Ilhornstift: beautifully idyllic and still lived in today.
- Hospital of the Holy Spirit and the patrician houses on Koberg
Thanks to the wealth and piety of many Lübeck merchants in Hanseatic times, they endowed numerous institutions, chief of which was the Hospital of the Holy Spirit built in 1286. It counts as one of the oldest municipal welfare institutions in Europe. The rood screen balustrade of the three-aisled hall church is adorned with a cycle from the legend of Elisabeth which arose around 1440. The life of this saint who dedicated her life to looking after the poor and the sick, is portrayed in great detail on 23 panels. With the hospital church, its paintings, carved altars and sculptures a veritable wealth of historically significant, medieval treasures have been preserved. Even today, the small cubicles, known as “Kabäuschen” (cubby-holes), in the nave show how people still lived here in what later became an old people’s home until 1970. Opposite the hospital, the wonderfully preserved patrician houses from the 15th and 16th centuries are an impressive sight.
Tip: Treat yourself to a small culinary break! Café Camino in one of the pastors’ houses beside St. Jacob’s Church is also a popular staging post for pilgrims travelling along the Way of St. James and it offers a multicultural cuisine in a particularly historical ambience.
- Castle Friary and Castle Gate
Castle Gate was completed in Romanesque style in the mid-13th century. It is still used today as an entrance to the Old Town island. It was named after the old castle complex situated high above the Trave that was converted to a monastery in 1227, one of the most significant monastery complexes in North Germany. The restored Castle Friary was integrated with the modern ensemble of the European Hansemuseum in 2015, and a guided tour is well worth it!
Tip: Right beside the Hansemuseum, Café Fräulein Brömse with freshly prepared tarts, cake specialities and tasty coffee, tempts you to take an enjoyable break.
- St. Jacob’s Church
At the heart of Lübeck’s seamen’s quarter, St. Jacob’s Church has been the church of seafarers and fisherfolk since the Middle Ages. The beginnings of the church can be traced back to 1220. This three-aisled brick hall church was built in 1334 and consecrated together with St. Mary's and St. Peter's. Today it is also an official, international seafarers’ memorial. St. Jacob’s Church survived the Second World War undamaged, thanks to which the boxed pew and the two historical organs have been preserved in their original condition.
Tip: The former guild house Schiffergesellschaft (Seafarers' Guild) houses the restaurant of the same name. With its historical rooms, murals and model ships, the seafarers’ tradition is palpable. The new Drehbrückenplatz with its water steps leading to the Trave is perfect for a break with a view of the water: throw in a fish roll from the nearby kiosk, wonderful! And on your way down to the Trave, you can take a peek in the small Bäcker Alley in Engelsgrube, next to No. 41.
- Founding quarter
Lübeck’s oldest merchant quarter below St. Mary's Church was destroyed in the Second World War. An enormous loss as this closed ensemble of houses was a well-spring for by far the oldest German town on the Baltic Sea. After decidedly successful excavations in the so-called founding quarter, a new residential area imitating the parcel structure of the medieval town, is currently being created here. Many different forms of living and housing are intended to create a location of social and cultural diversity.
Tip: The art gallery “per-seh” has opened its doors in the founding quarter, presenting contemporary works of art by German and European artists.
- St. Mary’s Church
The brick basilica is known as the “mother church of Brick Gothic in the Baltic Sea region”. Its origination is closely linked to the history of the city of Lübeck as there was already a market church here shortly after Lübeck was founded. Formerly a Romanesque basilica, St. Mary’s Church was converted to a Gothic brick cathedral from the 13th century. To this day, it is seen as the church of leading citizens and the city Council, and it houses numerous works of art, among them the baptismal font from 1337 and the Altar of St. Mary from 1476-79. The Dance of Death window by Alfred Mahlau and the Astronomical Clock are worth seeing.
- Town Hall
At the heart of the historical Old Town, Lübeck’s Town Hall is a true jewel from Hanseatic times. It was first mentioned in records in 1225. The Town Hall’s façade is fascinating as it combines architectural styles from three different centuries. Facing Breite Straße, you will find the wooden bay window from 1586 and the Renaissance grand staircase dating back to 1594. Inside you will be greeted by among other things the magnificent audience chamber in Rococo style with a door boasting carvings by Tönnies Evers the Younger and 10 paintings by Dresden’s Court painter Stefano Torelli.
Tip: Directly opposite, in the pedestrian precinct, Café Niederegger tempts you to take a sweet break over coffee and Lübeck’s famous marzipan nut cake. By the way, you can relive the exciting history of marzipan in the free Marzipan Museum on the 2nd floor of the building.
- St. Peter’s Church
This three-aisled Romanesque church was built between 1227 and 1250 and expanded in the 15th and 16th centuries to a five-aisled Gothic hall church. Once the church of the bargemen, St. Peter's is no longer used as a church, and with its 800-year-old, light church interior, it has evolved into a vibrant centre for events and exhibitions.
Tip: Small cafés and restaurants are lined up along the Upper Trave like pearls on a necklace. Here you can relax and enjoy a refreshment with a view of the river, the Salt Warehouses opposite and the green open spaces before you.