The Old City Of Lubeck, Germany: A Photo Essay

March 22, 2012 by Anil Polat  
Pictures and Video

There are plenty of things I don’t find particularly interesting about northern Germany. Coupled with the near-constant overcast and a prickly population whose mood seems to suffer from it, the often uniform and unimaginative architecture can be deceptively boring. Though early in the morning before the clouds have a chance to hide the sun and people are still stumbling home from parties the night before, the city tells a different tale.

The city of Lubeck, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has had a fairly laissez-faire attitude with Germany for most of its existence. Once the most powerful member of the economic alliance the Hanseatic League during the 1300s, it has been a part of Denmark and France before finally being absorbed into Germany in 1937. Prior to that, Lubeck was independent of outside rule for 711 years. Below is the Holsten Gate (Holstentor) used for centuries to keep attackers out and now the sinking structure is the pride of Lubeck.

holstentor lubeck germany

There were originally 4 gates regulating entrance to city of which only two remain to the present day. One is of course the Holstentor above and this, the Burgtor below.

burgtor lubeck

Candles burning inside the St. Mary’s Church (St. Marien zu Lübeck).

inside st. marys church lubeck germany

A glimpse of the church from outside and what is also the highest point in the old part of Lubeck.

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outside st. marys church lubeck germany

The Fehmarnbelt Lightship (Feuerschiff Fehmarnbelt) which was used to guide ships to and from port between 1908 until the mid-1960s.

fehmarnbelt lightship

The Hospital of the Holy Spirit built in 1260 and also where you’ll find the Lubeck Christmas Market during November and December.

hospital of the holy spirit lubeck germany

Lubeck’s largest ethnic group, like the rest of Germany, is Turkish. In Lubeck, Turks comprise about 5% of the population; less than the national average of 18% who are of Turkish origin. With Turks, comes Turkish foods like doner, borek, lahmacun, and more which are very popular throughout Germany.

doner in lubeck germany

This is Lubeck’s train station (Hauptbahnhof) which is fairly small although there is free wireless at the McDonald’s there if you’re in a bind. Hamburg (and yes, its Reeperbahn) is about 15 Euros and 45 minutes away.

lubeck train station

The same station, from the other side.

lubeck train station

When you get up before sunrise to do anything in Germany, not much is open. Except for the bakeries who are waiting for you with hot bread.

lubeck bread bakery

The old city of Lubeck is actually an island, surrounded on all sides by the Trave River.

trave river lubeck

The Lubeck Town Hall, where the city’s senate still meets regularly. Various forms of the city’s political body have met here since the 13th century.

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lubeck town hall

A statue of the German poet Emanuel Geibel posed in a contemplative mood.

emanuel geibel statue lubeck

A few minutes later the sun rises; sober people make their way on to the streets while those with hangovers finally get to bed. Within moments the story shifts and shatters into a million different narratives from the singular one Lubeck tells just before dawn.

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  1. Izy Berry says:

    I think you went a little crazy with the HDR but cool photos nonetheless! Looks like a beautiful little town 🙂

  2. David says:

    Stunning photos, Anil, and made even more impressive by the fact that you took them in a part of the world that doesn’t usually make the list of popular or attractive tourist destinations. That lightship shot in particular is amazing!

  3. Erica says:

    Since you began featuring these high-quality, visually appealing images I’ve gone from liking to really loving your blog. Inspiring!

    • Anil P. says:

      Thank you very much Erica! It was a goal of mine to make the site more visual and glad to hear you are enjoying it 🙂

  4. Bonnie says:

    I LOVED Lubeck & Hamburg. I found your site AFTER visiting these cities. Your pics are great. I find it insulting and a huge disservice in your description of all the people of northern area of Germany. I have NEVER found this to be true. I always use respectful words in their language of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and have always found the people very helpful, polite, fun, laughing and opposite of the rude remarks you parade on you site. It seems it would be more positive of you to travel the world in an attempt to breed kindness and respect than to bring even more negatives and insults into the world. I have lived in Germany for 10 months and find the people outstanding. Maybe you should first look at your approach and attitude in judgement while traveling before being so hard, and in my experience, unfair to the people of Germany. I strive to be the ambassador first and not the judgmental tourist from Hell.

  5. Julia says:

    Wow, we all love to look at a good photo essay – but THIS is great!! Love the photos. And this is why flying is annoying. We flew to Lubeck once from the UK – en route to Bremen. It was one of those great, cheap Ryanair flights (1 pence I recall – bargain!) that pretended it was taking us to Hamburg. No matter either way as we spent a great few days in Bremen before heading to Dalaman. 🙂 BUT we missed out on Lubeck. We assumed it was a place of not much interest but we’re sold – even it is only early morning! 🙂

    • Anil P. says:

      I hate that about Ryanair!! They try to convince you that the airport is in Hamburg when it’s not even really in Lubeck! It’s a bit of a drive out to get to that airport the locals keep trying to close down.

      If you end up flying through it’s a nice stop, especially in the late spring and best fueled by the great Turkish fusion restaurants all around 🙂

  6. It looks like a deserted city, there doesn’t seem to be any people anywhere?
    You captured some great shots

  7. Anil,

    That’s a great look back at your trip to Lübeck with some colourful pictures of the early-morning light!

    I’d also add as it is with just about anywhere in Germany, residential neighbourhoods with the small but wide-open Höfe (courtyards) to the east side of Königstrasse in Lübeck’s Innenstadt are worth a look, too. The Mühlenteich and the Krähenteich at the south end of the Innenstadt island can be colourful and relaxing. An afternoon-trip to the Baltic coastal town of Travemünde (mouth of the river Trave) can be very pretty as well.

  8. Great photos Anil. And maybe this city, unlike the rest of northern germany, isn’t as bad because it wasn’t originally German 😀 That’s why it is still partly better tasting for you? 😀 (beside the fact that everyone is still sleeping during post:D)

  9. Jeremy says:

    Wow, those gates look amazing!

    • Anil P. says:

      Thanks! Really impressive they’ve lasted so long – but I guess not surprising considering how well the Germans have taken care of them.

  10. AlexBerger says:

    Nice shots! Love the bikes!