• Photo: PStar / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Scirocco340 / Shutterstock


The ancient island core of Lübeck, dating from the 12th century, was a chief stronghold of the Hanseatic merchant princes, until its almost complete destruction in 1942. It was the roving Heinrich der Löwe (King Henry the Lion) who established the town and, in 1173, laid the foundation stone of the redbrick Gothic cathedral. The town's famous landmark gate, the Holstentor, built between 1464 and 1478, is flanked by two round squat towers and serves as a solid symbol of Lübeck's prosperity as a trading center.


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