Port of Lubeck
Review and History

The Port of Lubeck is a major port in the state of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany. Second largest city in the state, the Port of Lubeck is one of Germany’s most important ports. Lying about 14 kilometers from the Baltic Sea, it rests on the Wakenitz and Trave Rivers. It was the main city of the Hanseatic League and a commercial hub for northern Europe throughout the Middle Ages. In was recognized by UNESCO in 1987 as a World Heritage Site.

The Port of Lubeck is the city’s largest employer, and it is German’s biggest harbor on the Baltic Sea. Today, the Port of Lubeck is home to several industries in addition to its important port including food processing, metal works, and ship-building. It is also an important center for communications, finance, and tourism. It is the home of novelist Thomas Mann. In 2005, almost 214 thousand people called Lubeck home.

Port History

Archaeological evidence suggests that the Lubeck area was inhabited after the last Ice Age, and many dolmens from the Neolithic period have been found there. An ancient settlement at the site of the Port of Lubeck was called Liubice, and it was the capital of several Slavic princes during the 8th and 9th Centuries. It was settled by the Obotrite Confederacy, who built a castle there in the 10th Century, but the settlement was destroyed in 1128 by pagan forces.

Count Adolf II of Holstein founded the city in 1143, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1157. Duke of Saxony Henry III rebuilt the town two years later, and it quickly became an important focal point for trade for raw materials and manufacturing for all of northern and eastern Europe.

Denmark held the Port of Lubeck in the early 13th Century, but Frederick II made it his imperial city in 1226. During his reign, the city had its own constitution and laws and was self-governed for the most part. The council was dominated by merchants, and the city was oriented to trade for many centuries. Many Baltic cities later took the “laws of Lubeck,” revealing its great influence. Emperor Charles IV designated Lubeck as one of the Glories of the Holy Roman Empire, the only such city not located in Italy.

The Hanseatic League made the Port of Lubeck its headquarters in 1358, just eight years before the Black Death visited the city, greatly reducing its population. After the Black Death, the city grew in wealth, but it saw times of unrest in the late 14th and early 15th Centuries when craftsmen and artisans opposed the merchant-controlled city council. In 1398, the Stecknitz Canal was opened, encouraging shipments of salt from Luneburg.

In the early 1600s, about 22 thousand people lived there, and the Port of Lubeck had become Germany’s second biggest city. The Protestant Reformation of 1529-1530 brought major changes to the Port of Lubeck, including the expulsion of its city council. The incoming burgomaster of Lubeck embarked on war against Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark, but his defeat started an era of economic and political decline to the city.

The Hanseatic League was dissolved by 1630, but the Port of Lubeck continued to be the most important port on the Baltic Sea. During the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution, trade in the Port of Lubeck was stopped. Ruled by France in the early 19th Century, it came under the German Confederation in 1815 under the terms of the Vienna Congress, and the Port of Lubeck later entered the German Empire.

Opening of the Elbe-Lubeck Canal in 1900 brought economic recovery to the Port of Lubeck. When Germany’s Nazi party made it part of a Prussian province in 1937, it lost its status as a self-governing political entity. Much of the city center was destroyed during World War II by a 1942 bombing raid by the British. The end of the war brought 100 thousand refugees from Germany escaping the Soviet armies. The Germans located a POW camp for officers near the city, operating it from 1940 until 1945. In 1945, a terrible naval disaster befell the Bay of Lubeck. RAF bombers attacked and sank three ships that were carrying inmates from concentration camps, killing about seven thousand people. After World War II, the Port of Lubeck was located very near the border of East and West Germany, and the Lubeck border crossing was the northernmost crossing in Germany.

The Port of Lubeck is well known for its marzipan industry which continues today. Tourists still visit Lubeck during Christmas to get marzipan from Niederegger, its most famous manufacturer. Lubeck’s Christmas market is also well known for the many handicrafts offered in the market inside the hospital. The Port of Lubeck has a long tradition of wine-making and trading, dating back to its Hanseatic glory.

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