The best place to start a tour of the architectural attractions of Lübeck is the Holstentor, a remnant of the medieval fortifications of the city. This 14th-century Brick Gothic gate marks the western end of the former Hanseatic City of Lübeck, and has come to be recognized as the icon of the city, as well as one of the most visited sites in the country. A striking feature of this gate is, that when viewed from the city side, the two rounded towers and the block in the middle appear to be a single, continuous structure, but can be differentiated as three separate structures when viewed from the river side.
Holstentor, Holstentorplatz, Lübeck, Germany, +49 451 1224 129
Simply pass through the Holstentor to reach the bank of the River Trave. Here, you will see the Salzspeicher, a series of six brick houses that were built between the 16th and 18th centuries and still exist in an almost-original condition. In the bygone days, they were used to stock salt before export. In the later years, these were used to store other goods as well. This historic setting is an incredibly picturesque spot.
A 350-meter (0.2-mile) walk from Salzspeicher brings you to Petrikirche (St. Peter’s Church). The first existence of this restored evangelical church can be traced back to 1170. For a few euros, visitors can take a lift to the tower of the church, which commands an uninterrupted view of the city.
Petrikirche, Petrikirchhof, Lübeck, Germany, +49 451 397 730
A mere 270 meters (0.1 mile) away from the Petrikirche is Lübeck Rathaus, one of the most beautiful city halls in all of Germany. Constructed in 1230, three elegant gabled houses were built, which were eventually joined together to create the amazing ensemble of the Rathaus and Danzelhus (Dance Hall). The interior of the town hall is as lavish as the façade is beautiful.
Rathaus, Breite Str. 62, Lübeck, Germany +49 451 1221 005
Right next to the Rathaus is the 212-year-old Café Niederegger, which, though not an architectural landmark, is worth a mention for the cult status it has achieved over the centuries as the place to indulge in delicious marzipan specialties. This is the perfect place to take a break from walking and grab a quintessentially Lübeck snack.
Café Niederegger, Breite Straße 89, Lübeck, Germany, +49 451 5301 127
A few steps (150 meters, 490 feet) from the café is the famous Church of St. Mary’s (Marienkirche), built between 1250 and 1350. This gorgeous North German Brick Gothic church had once been a role model for over 70 churches in the region. It is marked by the tallest brick vault in the world, a three-aisled basilica, vestibules, and an ambulatory with radiating chapels. The church is also steeped in multiple legends.
St. Mary’s Church, Marienkirchhof 1, Lübekc, Germany, +49 451 3977 00
A 850-meter (0.5-mile) walk from St. Mary’s Church takes you to Drehbrücke, Lübeck’s oldest and most important bridge. It has been around since 1892 and operates by wheel and hydraulic swing functions. Originally open to both rail and road traffic, it has been supporting only vehicular traffic since the 1970s. The bridge closes for vehicles when a yacht passes by below. There are restaurants by the bridge from where you can enjoy views of the Drehbrücke as you eat.
Just one kilometer (0.6 miles) away from Drehbrücke is the Heiligen-Geist-Hospital. The historical importance of this beautiful, red-brick building lies in the fact that it is the world’s oldest social institution. The hospital cared for the poor and the needy for several years starting in 1286, and later was refurbished as a retirement home. Today, it hosts events and fairs, of which the arts and crafts fair during Christmas is especially popular.
Heiligen-Geist-Hospital, Koberg 11, Lübeck, Germany, +49 451 7995 610
The last stop on our architectural walking tour is Burgtor, 280 meters (0.2 miles) from the hospital. This is the other remnant of the medieval fortifications of Lübeck and once marked the northern entrance to the Hanseatic City. Though overshadowed by the more famous Holstentor, the late Gothic style Burgtor, built in 1444, is certainly worth a stop.