Lübeck, the undisputed Queen of the Hanseatic League, was founded in 1143 as 'the first western town on the Baltic coast' and provided a shining example for all the Hanseatic towns and cities along the Baltic. The medieval old town is one of the foremost examples of brick Gothic architecture and reflects Lübeck's illustrious past as an early centre of international trade.
In 1987 Lübeck's old town became the first in northern Europe to be named a World Cultural Heritage site. Surrounded by water on all sides, it has been dominated by seven church steeples since the Middle Ages. For centuries, Lübeck's name stood for freedom, justice and prosperity. Today, all the many Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and classical buildings, narrow lanes and streets, churches and abbeys, merchants' houses, craftsmen's yards and fortifications still tell of the heyday of Lübeck . Surrounded by water, the old town with the seven towers of its five principal churches brings to life 1,000 years of history and has been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its outstanding brick Gothic architecture. The site includes the quarter around the town hall, the castle abbey, the grand old patrician town houses between St. Peter's Church and the cathedral, the salt warehouses on the banks of the Trave river and the Holsten Gate, the city's most famous landmark, which is also an interactive museum. A harbour tour is the perfect way to round off any visit to Lübeck, as is a visit to the merchants' houses dedicated to Lübeck's three Nobel prize winners: Thomas Mann, Willy Brandt and Günter Grass. If it's that time of year, you can visit the annual Travemünde Week just outside the town, which offers a mix of first-rate sailing activities and fairground buzz. A tour of the bars at night is also an absolute must for any visitor to Lübeck: when the sun goes down, the numerous pubs, restaurants, bars and clubs come to life. Beforehand, you might want to line your stomach with some genuine Lübeck marzipan – an irresistible sweet treat for which the city has become renowned throughout the world.