Hanseatic City of Lübeck (1987) 
Germany

Back to index 

Lübeck – the former capital and Queen City of the Hanseatic League – was founded in the 12th century and prospered until the 16th century as the major trading centre for northern Europe. It has remained a centre for maritime commerce to this day, particularly with the Nordic countries. Despite the damage it suffered during the Second World War, the basic structure of the old city, consisting mainly of 15th- and 16th-century patrician residences, public monuments (the famous Holstentor brick gate), churches and salt storehouses, remains unaltered. 

Germany 1990. Panoramic view of Lübeck.

Lübeck is a city in north central Germany on the Trave River, in Schleswig-Holstein, near the Baltic Sea and the border with the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. 

A major Baltic port, Lübeck is also an important center of heavy industry and tourism, and the focus of a large metropolitan area. Shipbuilding is a major industry; other manufactures include textiles, machinery, marzipan (a local specialty), and other confections.

  • Germany 1990. Panoramic view of Lübeck, with the spectacular Holstentor in the center.  

A ring of canals separates the ancient inner city from surrounding suburban manufacturing areas. This historic section, restored after heavy bombing in World War II (1939-1945), has some of the country's finest medieval Gothic buildings. Landmarks include the Town Hall (begun 1250), famous for its intricate brickwork; the Holstentor or Holstein Gate (1477), a remnant of the old city fortifications with large twin towers; the Romanesque cathedral (1173-1477), known for its gigantic figure of Christ, carved in 1477 by the noted sculptor Bernt Notke; and the Gothic Church of Saint Mary's (1250-1330). Dietrich Buxtehude was organist for the church from 1668 until his death in 1707. A medical university (1973) in the city is a center of research, teaching, and medical care. The Academy of Music features an annual summer music festival. 

The authors Heinrich Mann and Thomas Mann, who were brothers, were born in Lübeck. In 1929 Thomas Mann acquired world fame and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel "Buddenbrooks", later dramatized in a movie with stage settings in Lübeck. 
  • Germany 1956. Thomas Mann.  
  • Germany 1978. Idem. 

Germany 1956. Thomas Mann.

Germany 1978.  Thomas Mann.

Germany 1951. 700th anniversary of Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church) in Lübeck.  10+5 pf. Germany 1951. 700th anniversary of Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church) in Lübeck. 20+5 pf. Mentioned in the 11th century, Lübeck became a fortified settlement in the 12th century. After a destructive fire in 1157 it was rebuilt in 1159 by Henry the Lion and became a free imperial city in 1226. 

In 1358 it was made the capital of the Hanseatic League and grew wealthy as the center of western Europe's Baltic trade with Russia and Scandinavia. 

  • Germany 1951. 700th anniversary of Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church) in Lübeck. The stamps are semi-postal, and show a figure group in the church. 
Germany, now part of the European Union (EU), has adapted the Euro currency. The Holstentor, the gate symbolising of the town of Lübeck, is shown in the centre of the coin and below it the word ‘Schleswig-Holstein’, the first of Germany’s 16 federal states to be commemorated in a euro coin. The engraver’s initials ‘HH’ appear to the right of the image and the mintmark ‘A’, ‘D’, ‘F’, ‘G’ or ‘J’, depending on the mint, to the left. The year of mintage, 2006, the 12 stars of the European Union and the words ‘Bundesrepublik Deutschland’ are shown in the outer ring. 

Germany 2006. Commemorative side of a 2-Euro coin. Holstentor in Lübeck.

Port activities diminished with the collapse of the league in the 17th century and further declined in the 19th century with the rise of the Prussian Baltic port of Stettin (now Szczecin in Poland). Lübeck retained its political independence until it became part of Schleswig-Holstein in 1937; its economy had been revitalized by the completion in 1900 of the Elbe-Lübeck Canal, linking the city with the interior of Europe. The heavy damage inflicted by bombing during World War II (1939-1945) was rapidly repaired, and Lübeck's economy was stimulated by the arrival soon after the war of many refugees from Soviet-occupied eastern Germany. 

Other Hanseatic cities in Germany include Bremen, Stralsund and Wismar. They are all described on this site. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Germany (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Germany for further information about such sites. 

Back to index


Revised 04 aug 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved