Lübeck, Fairytales and Sailors’ Inns

We all know that fairy tales are set in an imaginary place and time, but the authors must have been inspired by real places. Even when we’re creating a fantastic world, we combine elements taken from the real one. When I went to Lübeck, I thought: this is the location of the Brothers Grimm’s tales. Alleys, wooden beams, cobblestone streets, inns, arches and gnarled tree trunks.Today Lübeck is a UNESCO world heritage site. Luckily it retains its original atmosphere, with its Gothic churches, convents, and middle class houses overlooking the river Trave.


The German town was founded in 1143 and later became the queen of the Hanseatic League. It was the heart of North European commerce and trade, crossroads of people and goods. An imposing door, the Holstentor, is the main gate into the city. With its two round towers and arched entrance, it is one of the relics of Lübeck’s fortifications. So we walk into the Medieval heart of the city, reaching the main square where the Gothic Town Hall stands. If you are wondering why there are two round holes in the building, well, the reason is that they were created to reduce the impact of the strong wind blowing from the sea. Nearby is Marienkirche or St. Mary’s Church, a Medieval brick structure in the Gothic style.

Entrance gate to Lübeck


A visit to the Hanseatic Museum takes us back in time, enabling us to discover the history of the town, where merchants gathered to buy and sell their goods, people sailed on the river that was covered with ice during the long winters, and women worked at home. Those who love Thomas Mann’s novels have to visit the Buddenbrooks’ house. The great German writer spent his childhood and adolescence in Lübeck. Later in life, he decided to set his most famous novel in this city, describing the decadence of the middle class. Behind the baroque façade, you can still breathe the 19th century atmosphere.

Houses by the river, Lübeck


For a sweet break, there’s the Niederegger Café on Breiterstrasse. It’s actually a pastry shop famous for their marzipan creations, but if you don’t fancy marzipan, there’s a caramel brownie that’s worth a stop. Wandering around the fairy tale town, admiring the red brick houses and peering through the gates into the courtyards, you will feel like staying there a little bit longer.

Main square, Lübeck


When the evening comes, we stop at the Schiffergesellschaft. “Nostalgia for distant times”, says their website. And in fact this old restaurant in Breite Straße No 2 is housed in a Medieval building, which in the 16th century was acquired by the brotherhood of Captains. In the main hall, the so called banquet tables and benches are still the original ones, made from oak planks. Here the skippers used to sit and eat, divided into groups according to the various harbours which they used to sail to. The kitchen offers regional food, baked potatoes, fresh fish and herrings. Another good address is Lübecker Hanse, Kolk 7, which also offers traditional dishes in a typical Medieval house.

Medieval Gate


The sea is not far from Lübeck. It’s the Baltic sea, which has its own charm especially during the summer, when the golden beaches of Travemünde are filled with children running on the sand and adults walking, reading or watching the sea from their wicker chairs. You can go there by train and come back by boat, falling in love with the wild beauty of this land. When we visited Lübeck, we were coming from Denmark after traveling across Scandinavia. The emotion of crossing countries was part of the journey. From the Swedish forests to the Danish fields, from windmills to beaches, everything seemed to form a painting. Lübeck looms in the distance. A reminder of the beauty of Old Europe with its pinnacles, towers, willows, gable roof houses and marzipan.