Lubeck- Northern beauty with a heart of marzipan
Updated: Jun 30
Autumn is in the air,but we are not quite ready to separate from the summer. Let me introduce you to a great city I visited in the end of July, Lubeck. The first time I have heard about it, was from someone I knew who lived in Paris. "I am originally from Lubeck. It's a beautiful city in the north of Germany. You might consider visiting it."He said, determined.
I kept in my memory his advice. I decided, as I have planned staying in Berlin this summer, to visit some significant cities, writing a serie of articles about the romantic-picturesque Germany. Lubeck will be the first opening city.
When I walked towards the town center from the train station, I was thrilled to perceive the fantastic "Puppen Brucke" under a cloudy sky. The "Puppets Bridge."Under the bridge flows the river Trave. Built from the 18th century, with massive sculptures, symbolizing allegorical figures.
They give the person who strolls by a poetic ,majestic greeting. While I have learned the history of Lubeck, it appeared that consciousness, morality, and justice were the qualities that this city aspired to have all along with its existence. If the city was a human, he was holding a torch lighting the way to intelligence and clarity.
Lubeck is the capital (the queen) of the Hanseatic League. It's a UNESCO world heritage site. This city soaked with fascinating Medieval stories from the Baltic sea: sailing, merchandise, wealthy traders, conflicts, and justice.
The Harbour Travemunde is the connecting point to the Baltic sea and reaches other important port cities: Bruges, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Novgorod in Russia.
"Look how royal is the high courtroom of the Hanseatic league designed in a Rococo style," told me Jan Kruijswijk, a very well experienced city guide, originally from Netherland.
We were in the most prestigious gallery of the Town Hall in Lubeck. Jan explained that there were four mayors in Lubeck in the 13th 14th- centuries, as they were all merchants who sometimes went sailing for long periods. They didn't trust each other. There was a need for more the one mayor to rule the city.
The marvelous pictures (represented the virtues of good government) decorating the room are of the Italian painter Torelli; The daughter was the painter's model.
"Look at this majestic door," Pointed Jan. There are actually two doors, one for the merchant who was found guilty, and the other for the acquitted. You have to step out of each door to feel the extreme difference between them.When you will visit the place.just try it,you will find out.
Above the door,a picture represented the well known king Solomon trial. Symbolising wisdom and taking the right decision.The letters are often in Old German which is very similar to old Dutch" explained me Jan.
The prominent Saint-Mary's church, constructed in a gothic design.Some legends are linked to this church,one of them is mirrored by a little malicious devil sitting outside.The devil was mislead,he helped the workers building the church thinking it will be a magnificent wine bar.When he realized later the real purpose of his efforts, he wanted to destroy the monument by throwing on it a brick,but an intelligent laborer promised him that they would build a wine bar in the same neighborhood.That calmed the vicious devil that dropped the brick right by the church,and he was sitting on it, he is still there.
Waiting for what or for who?"waiting for Godot" perhaps..who knows.
Sculptures of skeletons are decorating the high walls—contributions from wealthy merchants to the church. It is a massive building.(One of the highests churches in Europe.)
The merchants used to give lots of donations to compensate on their self-centered way of living.
The church heavily bombed during the Second World War. Remarkably reconstructed. The enormous bells laying on the ground serve now as a part of the exhibition.
Before we discover what is inside the must- seen monuments, I want to show you the stunning outdoor of Lubeck.
We were walking into the backyards gardens of the houses. Here no need for discretion as they are open to the public.
If you believe that art is everywhere where lay excellent taste and creativity, you will feel walking into animated pictures. I was enchanted to discover how blooming and flowery Lubeck is. The roses were so beautiful as if they were almost unreal.
I have wished to sit in one of those backyards' gardens on a shiny yellow bench and have some coffee. Just chilling out, Did I? We will find it later.
Every garden is unique, arranged differently, beautifully decorated. It would be best if you walked where there is a narrow alley between houses. It will lead you to one of those fabulous patios.
The sky shines in clear blue at 7pm, as if it was the beginning of the afternoon.
I was delighted to have dinner in a historical, restaurant-establishment Schiffergesellschaft (Breite Strasse 2)
It is a place where the decoration takes you straight away to cruising in the Baltic sea. The dusky light and the exposed shaped boats make you feel like you are dining in a sumptuous ship . Fresh local products inspire the ingredients of the dishes. The marzipan flavour was quite dominant in the desert. If you wonder why? We will soon get there.
Lubeck is a prosperous city. Abundant with culture. Any museum lover will be much satisfied.
The European Hanse -museum. A most momentous building. It is key for apprehending the spirit of Lubeck. It is a museum that offers you a profound look at the merchant's life, through their adventures in the Baltic sea, for more than 600 years—designed cleverly with knowledge and imagination. It is a fascinating journey to the Lubeck Middle Ages- maritime traders 'way of living: The achievements, the difficulties, the determination to solve the conflicts We learn about merchants transporting the goods from all the cities connected to Lubeck. Products as cloths, salt, fur. Each country and its specialty.
I was particularly impressed by the gigantesque sculptures built so realistically, of the lead merchants and mayors.
One of the most spine-tingling exposition there is from the time of the plague in the 14th -century. It started in Asia then spreaded in the North of Italy-Venice and to all over Europe. It was devastating, causing so much human loss and economic crises. It was odd to compare the past with nowadays pandemic-Corona.Finding some similarity. It does make you think that maybe history turns like a spiral.
Is it predestined or humanity not learning from past mistakes? A philosophical theme.
You leave this distinguished museum though optimistic. After all, even if the consequences of this plague were dramatic. People have survived! They have found a way to be healed, regaining their vitality. The world slowly has recovered.
I was again walking outside. It was a summery day. Whoever reads my observations on cities knows that I am keen on having a good quality coffee. As I was investigating the town, I have discovered this magical place.
"One-Fair Trade coffee Roster", (Koning Strasse 106). With this colossal Coffee rostering machine, I knew, I have arrived at the right place! Indeed the coffee was super as the sitting in their little terrace smelling the brand-new coffee beans
Koning Strasse (king street)does merit its grand name. It is a long, impressive one with so many essential buildings. The museum Behnhaus-Dragehouse for fine art -(Konnig street 9.)
"You have to read the magic mountain by Thomas Mann". I recall the librarian recommending , handing to me the book when I was 14 years old.
The Buddenbrooks museum is temporarily closed. A tribute to the famous auteur Thomas Mann ( the Nobel-Prize winner) and his iconic book. Behnouse, besides their permanent paintings collection of classic and modern pictures and sculptures, hosts now most of the selection of the Buddenbrooks.
I was Immersed by the German Romanticism, in this charming building, I have learned about Mann's family. The tenacious relationship between the two brothers. Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Their background.and the dominant father who was a prosperous merchant.
In the museum, are exposed pictures of other brilliant European painters such as the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch.
Another famous Nobel award-winning writer from Lubeck is Gunter Grass. You can visit the museum dedicated to his life and work also in Lubeck.
Who can resist the marzipan?
The marzipan cappuccino and the ice cream tasted marzipan I have tried in Cafe Niederegger (Breite Street 89) were so delicious. It has reminded me of its unique flavour.
The family company Niederegger from Lubeck is very famous for producing different products with this almond paste.
Not only the Cafe was a lovely experience to sit inside, surrounded by the recognizable colours of the brand, red and cream. I enjoyed visiting the museum (on the second floor), where you can learn about the historical journey of marzipan from the Orient to the city of Lubeck.
I was astonished to discover the important personalities made from Marzipan. On the left Santa Claus. Behind Wolfgang Joop(a fashion designer) and on the right Hans Christoffel von Grimmelshausen.(a novelist )
Just a few meters from this place exuding from sweetness,there is another trendy street-
Huxstrasse. It is just perfect to go for having a good pause and getting the sense of the lively city life. From adorable and cozy Cafes, wine-bars, restaurants,artisanal ice cream place. It is elegant,stylish,yet quite busy and popular.
I had a lovely dinner in the sophisticated Italian restaurant Miera. (Huxstrasse 57) antipasti and fish were extremely good!
Behind the intimate dining room hides a garden decorated from a fairy tale's book.
I felt already attached to this city, its beauty,creativity and friendliness. People I have met on my way were kind and polite,by the last day in Lubeck I have wished I could have stayed longer.
I went to the Museums Quartier St -Annes( St Annen- of, Strasse 15). It's an exceptional space. You can meet architecture from Middle-ages -sculptures, paintings, up to Bauhaus pieces of furniture installation. Some parts of this immense museum were closed temporarily due to work on structures. (the puppets museum and theater) Still, there are a few essential exhibitions open. It is an extraordinary place.
Few meters from the Museum's Quartier is the Synagogue that was also closed due to renovation and has left me curious how it looks from inside. It means I have to come back to Lubeck!
Remember, I wrote at the beginning that I hoped to have a coffee in one of the many flowery backyard gardens.
Maybe someone has heard my wish cause an amicable couple was sitting in their garden by the table, in the corner of St- Annes street.
"Are you visiting Lubeck"? The man with the glasses has asked me. Can't be mistaken I was a tourist, I held a big map of the city, walking,looking contemplatively in the big garden divided by the houses.
"Please join us for a coffee." suggested kindly his wife.
We had an interesting conversation. The man had immigrated with his family from Iran to Germany when he was a child. His wife in her early youth from Turkey. We talked about roots, their influences, and the meaning of feeling at home in a foreigner land.
"We don't like politicians who just divide between people, define unnecessary boundaries.
"We feel at home in Lubeck," they both smiled. "
"If you live in Paris you must know the writer Jean-Paul Sartre. My husband is interested in philosophy.He has studied about him recently."
He nodded with his head approving her words.
"My husband studies French philosophy and I love watching an Israeli TV Serie on Netflix about an orthodox family from Jerusalem.The female protagonist studies in Switzerland where my son lives "
I appreciated the diverse conversation's toppings in their well-groomed garden. The temperatures were favorable for end of July.
I had a few hours left in Lubeck. It was pleasant to walk again in the center town. The light changes sometimes the whole impression over a street and the houses.Revealing details that I haven't payed attention to them before. I did a cruise in the river Trave, which lasted around an hour. Offering a view from another angle on the colourful buildings, as on the variety of boats and ships anchored to the river bank.
The first thing I did when I was back in Berlin is to buy the English version of the book "Buddenbrooks." About the 19th-century German merchants family from Lubeck.
Now that I am familiar with the landscapes and the character of this city, I will happily meet them again while delving in the writings of Thomas Mann.
Where to stay?
I was in Motel One,a convenient and comfortable Hotel,right in the heart of the city by the Town-Hall
Photos credit- Niva Josef
Lubeck -Tourism office.