Lubeck, once the former "Queen of the Hanseatic League", is today a modern city enclosed by historic walls. There is good reason to be proud of it, as the UNESCO has declared the intact ensemble of churches, merchant's houses, warehouses and small narrow alleys in the Old Town part of the world´s cultural heritage. "World literature and the world´s cultural heritage" - this slogan nicely combines Lubeck´s cultural treasures with one another. Not only can the old spirit of the Hanseatic League still be sensed in the Old Town, but you can also imagine the protagonists of such famous novels as Professor Unrat, Tonio Kröger and Buddenbrooks walking by. Apart from Thomas and Heinrich Mann, who certainly belong amongst the city´s best known sons, many artists have lived and worked here over the centuries: the painter and sculpturer Bernd Notke, the organ player Dietrich Buxtehude, the author Ida Boy-Ed, the poet Emanuel Geibel and Gunter Grass, who has only recently been awarded the Nobel prize for literature. The politician and Nobel peace prize winner Willy Brandt was born in Lubeck in 1913. He used to say "I always carried a piece of Lubeck inside me, wherever I had to go."
The heart of Lubeck is its Old Town, surrounded by the river Trave in the west and by the river Wakenitz in the east. The many narrow lanes and alleys are lined by old town houses with red brick facades and impressive stepped and other artistic gables, and there is a pleasant everyday bustle here. The Old Town is no decorated showcase for tourists, but the cultural, political and social centre of Lubeck. The impressive Town Hall is still in use - this is where the senate meets and where the citizens' conferences take place. A pedestrian area starts here, where the city´s popular shopping streets are lined with town houses from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classic period, which have been put under a preservation order. All the main churches can be found in the Old Town: St. Marien, the Dom (cathedral), St. Petri, St. Aegidien, St. Jakobi. Their 7 naves already represented Lubeck´s wealth in the early Middle Ages, and they still dominate the city´s skyline. The Stiftshöfe, which were founded by the rich merchants, also belong to the townscape and are popular just as before. Apart from elderly single ladies, young students have taken to staying here, although the annual "tourist epidemic" is sometimes considered a bit of a nuisance.
All the major museums are spread across the Old Town: St. Annen museum, Behnhaus, Museum church St. Katherinen, Buddenbrook house, the Ethnological Collection, Scientific and Environmental museum, Museum of Puppetry and the Holsten Gate.
The Koberg in the north of the city also belongs to the Old Town. It is surrounded by impressive buildings like the Heiligen-Geist-Hospital, St. Jacobi, some beautiful renovated town houses and the Schiffergesellschaft. Despite all efforts and a new but somewhat "controversial" decoration, it has not been accepted by the locals which explains why it is not very lively.
The Malerwinkel below the cathedral is much more popular. There are many narrow alleys and renovated courtyards in this area, and the pubs and restaurants along the Upper Trave are particularly busy during the summer months. The visitors appreciate these sheltered locations and know that they can catch the first rays of sun in the spring here. The College of Music moved here a few years ago, and you can frequently listen to nice concerts when the windows are open. Friends of architectural highlights praise the Große Petersgrube, as it has beautiful examples of northern European townhouses from the Gothic, Baroque, Rococo, late Baroque and Classic period standing close together. At Holsten bridge, opposite the old Salzspeicher (salt warehouses), ships depart for tours of the Harbour, the canals and the city.
Recently, people have become aware of Lubeck´s beautiful Harbour between Holstentorbrucke and Hubbrucke again, where the Oldtime sailing ships recall the old days when the ships of the Hanseatic League used to lie here to take on freight or deliver goods into the nearby warehouses. This is where the Queen of the League´s heart used to pound, this is where the city´s wealth and power had their origin. The trading business has moved to other parts of the harbour, but the lovely old warehouses remained and they create a special ambience here. At Drehbrucke berth the ships to Travemunde depart. The harbour serves as a setting for both the Old Town Festival and the youngest daughter of the Berlin love parade: Lubeck´s Friendship-Party.
Facing the Old Town in the west is the Wallhalbinsel between Stadtgraben and Stadttrave. It is cut into two parts. In the southern part large hotels like the SAS Radisson Senator Hotel and Mövenpick Hotel have found ideal locations behind the embankments with the open-air stage, and the Music and Congress Hall has pushed aside the alternative scene - "Walli". In the northern part the old red storage sheds can be found at Wallhafen and Hansahafen. Wood is mainly loaded here, and the future of the ideally situated harbour vis-à-vis the Old Town is being carefully discussed at present.