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Holstentor in Lubeck 2015.jpg
Holstentor, emblem of the city
Location of Lübeck
Germany adm location map.svg
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Germany Schleswig-Holstein adm location map.svg
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Coordinates: 53°52′11″N10°41′11″E / 53.86972°N 10.68639°E / 53.86972; 10.68639 Coordinates: 53°52′11″N10°41′11″E / 53.86972°N 10.68639°E / 53.86972; 10.68639
Country Germany
State Schleswig-Holstein
District Urban district
Subdivisions35 Stadtbezirke
   Mayor Jan Lindenau (SPD)
  Governing parties CDU
  Total214.13 km2 (82.68 sq mi)
13 m (43 ft)
 (2018-12-31) [1]
  Density1,000/km2 (2,600/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes
Dialling codes 0451, 04502
Vehicle registration HL [2]
Website www.luebeck.de
Hanseatic City of Lübeck
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Lubeck panorama.JPG
Aerial view of the old town
Criteria Cultural: iv
Reference 272
Inscription1987 (11th session)
Area81.1 ha
Buffer zone693.8 ha
River Trave Lubeck Rivier Trave Sleeswijk-Holstein Duitsland.jpg
River Trave

Lübeck ( /ˈlbɛk/ LOO-bek, German: [ˈlyːbɛk] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) (Danish: Lybæk), officially the Hanseatic City of Lübeck (German : Hansestadt Lübeck), is a city in Schleswig-Holstein, northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. On the river Trave, it was the leading city of the Hanseatic League, and because of its extensive Brick Gothic architecture, it is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In 2015, it had a population of 218,523.


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. Autobahn 1 connects Lübeck with Hamburg and Denmark. Travemünde is a sea resort and ferry port on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Lübeck Hauptbahnhof links Lübeck to a number of railway lines, notably the line to Hamburg.


Humans settled in the area around what today is Lübeck after the last Ice Age ended about 9700 BCE. Several Neolithic dolmens can be found in the area.

Around AD 700, Slavic peoples started moving into the eastern parts of Holstein, an area previously settled by Germanic inhabitants who had moved on in the Migration Period. Charlemagne (Holy Roman Emperor 800–814), whose efforts to Christianise the area were opposed by the Germanic Saxons, expelled many of the Saxons and brought in Polabian Slavs allies. Liubice (the place-name means "lovely") was founded on the banks of the River Trave about 4 km (2.5 mi) north of the present-day city-center of Lübeck. In the 10th century, it became the most important settlement of the Obotrite confederacy and a castle was built. In 1128, the pagan Rani from Rügen razed Liubice.

In 1143, Adolf II, Count of Schauenburg and Holstein, founded the modern town as a German settlement on the river island of Bucu. He built a new castle, first mentioned by the chronicler Helmold as existing in 1147. Adolf had to cede the castle to the Duke of Saxony, Henry the Lion, in 1158. After Henry's fall from power in 1181, the town became an Imperial city for eight years.[ citation needed ] Emperor Barbarossa (reigned 1152–1190) ordained that the city should have a ruling council of 20 members. With the council dominated by merchants, pragmatic trade interests shaped Lübeck's politics for centuries. The council survived into the 19th century. The town and castle changed ownership for a period afterwards and formed part of the Duchy of Saxony until 1192, of the County of Holstein until 1217, and of the kingdom of Denmark until the Battle of Bornhöved in 1227.

Lubeck's seal, 1280 Stadssigill foer staden Luebeck.png
Lübeck's seal, 1280

Hanseatic city

Around 1200, the port became the main point of departure for colonists leaving for the Baltic territories conquered by the Livonian Order, and later, by the 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.

Import/exports by sea: valued in 000s Lübeck marks, 18 Mar 1368–10 Mar 1369
GoodsPrincipal originImportsExportsTotal
Skins, fursRussia, Sweden13.33.717
WaxRussia, Prussia7.25.813
BeerWendish towns4.11.96
CopperSweden, Hungary2.22.44.6
IronSweden, Hungary2.42.24.6
FlaxLivonia, North Germany0.433.4
Total (rounded)338.9206.9545.8 [3]

In the 14th century, Lübeck became the "Queen of the Hanseatic League", being by far the largest and most powerful member of that medieval 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.

Movements of 680 ships entering/leaving port
Arrivals%Origin, destinationDepartures%
858100911100 [4]

Several conflicts about trading privileges resulted in fighting between Lübeck (with the Hanseatic League) and Denmark and Norway – with varying outcome. 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 pro-Lutheran Schmalkaldic League of the mid-16th century.

Exports of butter (tons) and copper (schiffspfund) from Stockholm to Lübeck and Danzig [5]
162065976506743486120.1 [6]

After its defeat in the Count's Feud, Lübeck's power slowly declined. The city remained neutral in the Thirty Years' War of 1618–1648, 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 with it – to decline in importance. However, even after the de facto disbanding of the Hanseatic League in 1669, Lübeck still remained an important trading town on the Baltic Sea.

Lubeck in 1493 Nuremberg chronicles f 265-66 (Lubeca).jpg
Lübeck in 1493

Old traditions, new challenges

Franz Tunder was the organist in the Marienkirche. It was part of the tradition in this Lutheran congregation that the organist would pass on the duty in a dynastic marriage. In 1668, his daughter Anna Margarethe married the great Danish-German composer Dieterich Buxtehude, who was the organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck until at least 1703. Some of the greatest composers of the day came to the church to hear his renowned playing.

In the course of the war of the Fourth Coalition against Napoleon, troops under Bernadotte (who would later become King of Sweden) occupied the neutral Lübeck after a battle against Blücher on 6 November 1806. Under the Continental System, the State bank went into bankruptcy. In 1811, the French Empire formally annexed Lübeck as part of France; the anti-Napoleonic allies liberated the area in 1813, and the Congress of Vienna of 1815 recognised Lübeck as an independent free city. The city became a member of the German Confederation (1815-1866) the North German Confederation (1866-1871) the German Empire (1871-1918) and the Weimar Republic (1919-1933). Under the Third Reich (1933-1945) the Nazis passed the Greater Hamburg Act, which incorporated the city of Lübeck into the Schleswig-Holstein province of Prussia, effective April 1, 1937. It thereby lost its status as an independent constituent state.

Writer Thomas Mann was a member of the Mann family of Lübeck merchants. His well-known 1901 novel Buddenbrooks made readers in Germany (and later worldwide, through numerous translations) familiar with the manner of life and mores of the 19th-century Lübeck bourgeoisie .

Lubeck, 16th century Lubeka kolorowa litografia ksiazkowa XIVw.jpg
Lübeck, 16th century
Lubeck in 1641 Luebeck-1641-Merian.jpg
Lübeck in 1641

During World War II (1939–1945), Lübeck became the first German city to suffer substantial Royal Air Force (RAF) bombing. The attack of 28 March 1942 created a firestorm that caused severe damage to the historic centre. This raid destroyed three of the main churches and large parts of the built-up area; the bells of St Marienkircke plunged to the stone floor. [7] Germany operated a prisoner-of-war 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 died.

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 the so-called former eastern provinces of Germany in the Communist Bloc. Lübeck remained part of Schleswig-Holstein after World War II (and consequently lay within West Germany). It stood 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, UNESCO designated this area a World Heritage Site.

Lübeck became 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. Malskat later revealed the deception himself. Günter Grass featured this incident in his 1986 novel The Rat .

The house after the fire HL Damals - Hafenstrasse 52.jpg
The house after the fire

On the night of 18 January 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 stated that they had encountered other overt hostility in the city. [8] The police and the local court were criticized at the time for ruling out racism as a possible motive before even beginning preliminary investigations. [9] But by 2002, the courts found all the Germans involved [10] not guilty; the perpetrators have not been caught.

In April 2015, Lübeck hosted the G7 conference. [11]


In 2015, the city had a population of 218,523. The largest ethnic minority groups are Turks, Central Europeans (Poles), Southern Europeans (mostly Greeks and Italians), Eastern Europeans (e.g. Russians), Arabs, and several smaller groups.

Population development since 1227:

Historical population
source: [12] [ circular reference ]

Population structure: [13]

RankNationalityPopulation (31.12.2018)
1Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 4,405
2Flag of Poland.svg  Poland 2,520
3Flag of Syria.svg  Syria 2,205
4Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq 1,010
5Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria 910
6Flag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan 860
7Flag of Romania.svg  Romania 820
8Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 780
9Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 710
10Flag of Greece.svg  Greece 635


St. Mary's Church Marienkirche am Abend.jpg
St. Mary's Church
Town Hall Luebeck-Rathaus am Markt von Suedwesten gesehen-20100905.jpg
Town Hall
Salzspeicher Lubeck Sleeswijk-Holstein Salzspeicher Duitsland.jpg
Lubeck Cathedral and historic buildings at the Obertrave Dom zu Lubeck im Winter.jpg
Lübeck Cathedral and historic buildings at the Obertrave
Hospital of the Holy Spirit, one of the oldest social institutions of Lubeck (1260) Luebeck-Heiligen-Geist-Hospital von Westen gesehen-20100905.jpg
Hospital of the Holy Spirit, one of the oldest social institutions of Lübeck (1260)
A typical crow-stepped gabled town house A house in Lubeck.jpg
A typical crow-stepped gabled town house

In 2019 Lübeck reached 2 million overnight stays. Lübeck is famous for its medieval City Center with the Churches, the Holstentor, its small alleys and so much more. Lübeck has been called "Die Stadt der 7 Türme" (The City of seven Towers) due to its seven prominent church towers.

A typical visit in Lübeck includes a walk through the medieval city centre to see the Holstentor, the famous Churches like St. Mary's Church, and the town hall. Lübeck is also very famous for marzipan. This almond treat has been a part of Lübeck's history since 1806, and amongst its most famous producers is "Niederegger". For many people the Niederegger coffee shop in the city centre is a significant tourist attraction: it offers more than 25 variety of pie and all things marzipan. At night time, there are many bars, clubs and restaurants to finish the day.

Also very popular is the city of Travemünde on the Baltic Sea. In summer there are thousands of people on the white sanded beach. Here you can watch the huge ferries and cruiseships coming in and leaving the port to Scandinavia.

Most tourists stay for a week and visit places nearby such as the cities of Hamburg, Schwerin, Wismar or Rostock, the seaside resorts Timmendorfer Strand, Scharbeutz, Grömitz or Boltenhagen, going on a cycling tour on the coast of the Baltic Sea, the Hansa-Park amusement park, the SeaLife Center in Timmendorf, the Island of Fehmarn, and some even on a day trip to Denmark.


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 by any of four town gates, two of which remain today, 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.

Built in 1286, the Holy Spirit Hospital at Koberg is one of the oldest existing social institutions in the world and one of the most important buildings in the city. The Holy Spirit Hospital is in parts an old-folk and nursing home. Historic parts can be visited.

Other sights include:

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. Anne's Museum Quarter, Lübeck, the Behnhaus, the European Hansemuseum, 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. The marzipan museum in the second floor of Café Niederegger in Breite Strasse explains the history of marzipan, and shows historical wood molds for the production of marzipan blocks and a group of historical figures made of marzipan.

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". [14] 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. [15]

The Lübeck wine trade dates back to Hanseatic times. One Lübeck specialty is Rotspon ( Loudspeaker.svg listen  ), wine made from grapes processed and fermented in France and transported in wooden barrels to Lübeck, where it is stored, aged and bottled. [16]

Like other coastal North German communities, Fischbrötchen and Brathering are popular takeaway foods, given the abundance of fish varieties.


Lübeck has three universities, the University of Lübeck, the Technical University of Applied Sciences Lübeck, 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

C.F.Heineken 1726 HeinekenFritzsch1726.jpg
C.F.Heineken 1726
Ephraim Carlebach 1936 Ephraim Carlebach.jpg
Ephraim Carlebach 1936


Willy Brandt in 1980 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F057884-0009, Willy Brandt.jpg
Willy Brandt in 1980


JF Overbeck, self portrait with family 1820 Friedrich Overbeck 011.jpg
JF Overbeck, self portrait with family 1820
Dieterich Buxtehude Imagebuxtehude.jpg
Dieterich Buxtehude



Robert Christian Ave-Lallemant in 1851 WP Robert Christian Ave-Lallemant.jpg
Robert Christian Ave-Lallemant in 1851


Heinrich (left) and Thomas Mann in 1902 Heinrich Thomas Mann.jpg
Heinrich (left) and Thomas Mann in 1902


The skyline of the old town as seen from North Lubeck-skyline-von-norden.JPG
The skyline of the old town as seen from North
Lubeck main station (Lubeck Hbf) Hauptbahnhof Lubeck 239-zh.jpg
Lübeck main station (Lübeck Hbf)
Lubeck civil registration office, in the St. Jurgen zone Standesamt lubeck.jpg
Lübeck civil registration office, in the St. Jürgen zone
The beach of Travemunde Travemunde-strandpromenade-strand-ostsee.JPG
The beach of Travemünde

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:

The Innenstadt is the main tourist attraction and consists of the old town as well as the former ramparts. It is the oldest and smallest part of Lübeck.

Sankt Jürgen is one of three historic suburbs of Lübeck (alongside St. Lorenz and St. Gertrud). It is located south of the city centre and the biggest of all city parts.

Moisling is situated in the far South-West. Its history dates back to the 17th century.

Buntekuh lies in the West of Lübeck. A big part consists of commercial zones such as the Citti-Park, Lübeck's biggest mall.

Sankt Lorenz-Süd is located right in the South-West of the city centre and has the highest population density. The main train and bus station lie in its Northern part.

Sankt Lorenz-Nord is situated in the North-West of Lübeck. It is split from its southern part by the railways.

Sankt Gertrud is located in the East of the city centre. This part is mainly characterized by its nature. Many parks, the rivers Wakenitz and Trave and the forest Lauerholz make up a big part of its area.

Schlutup lies in the far East of Lübeck. Due to forest Lauerholz in its west and river Trave in the north, Schlutup is relatively isolated from the other city parts.

North of river Trave lies Kücknitz. It is the old main industrial area of Lübeck.

Travemünde is located in far northeastern Lübeck at the Baltic Sea. With its long beach and coast line, Travemünde is the second biggest tourist destination.

International relations

Lübeck is twinned with:

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


Lübeck is connected to three Main Motorways (Autobahnen). The A1 Motorway is heading north to the Island of Fehmarn and Copenhagen (Denmark) and south to Hamburg, Bremen and Cologne. The A20 Motorway is heading east to Wismar, Rostock and Szczecin (Poland) and west to Bad Segeberg and to the North Sea. The A226 Motorway starts in Central Lübeck and is heading to the north-east and the Seaport-City of Travemünde.

Lübeck has multiple train Stations. The biggest of them is Lübeck Central Station. With about 31.000 passengers per day, it's the largest station in Schleswig-Holstein. The station is most likely being served by regional rail services to Hamburg, Lüneburg, Kiel, The Island of Fehmarn and Szczecin (Poland). There are some Long-distance trains to Munich, Frankfurt a.m. and Cologne. During the summer holidays, there are many extra rail services. Till the end of 2019, Lübeck was a stop on the "Vogelfluglinie" train line from Hamburg to Copenhagen (Denmark).

Public transport by bus is organized by the Lübeck City-Traffic-Company (Lübecker Stadtverkehr). There are 40 buslines serving the city and the area around Lübeck. There are some other regional Bus services.

TT-Line Ferry in Travemunde TT-Line FS Tom Sawyer Warnemunde (04).JPG
TT-Line Ferry in Travemünde

In Lübeck's district of Travemünde is on the Baltic Sea and has the city's main port. The Scandinavienkai (the quay of Scandinavia) has ferry routes are to Malmo and Trelleborg (Sweden); Liepaja (Latvia); Helsinki (Finland) and St.Petersburg (Russia). It is the second-biggest German port on the Baltic Sea.

Lubeck Airport Flughafen Lubeck.jpg
Lübeck Airport

Lübeck Airport is located in the south of Lübeck in the Town of Blankensee. It provides regional flights to Munich and Stuttgart and some charter flights to Italy and Croatia.

See also

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  2. 1906–1937 and since 1956Vehicles 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).
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