Monday, August 29, 2011

LUBECK, GERMANY: Part 1

After our night in Berlin, we were up early and off on a long bus ride to Lubeck, Germany, the largest German port on the Baltic Sea (population 214,000) and former capital of the Hanseatic League, but not until we had consumed another wonderful, gut-expanding breakfast, complete with delicious wurst, cheeses, pickled herring and beet salad.

Even in our food-induced stupor, we found the scenery between Berlin and Lubeck very interesting:



The windmills reminded me of the Palm Springs area, but the lush green fields certainly didn't.




We passed field after field covered in brilliant red poppies.



I wish I could have gotten out of the bus to get a less blurry picture.

After a few hours, we arrived in Lubeck and checked into our hotel next door to the famous Holsten Gate, built in stages beginning around 1200 A.D.:
Like so many European cities, this beautiful canal encircles the city and creates a relaxed, wonderful ambience:

Germans know how to "do" front doors:


I loved the linden trees in bloom all over the city.  They took me back to my childhood home, where my mother had planted two linden trees in the front yard.  Oma, my German grandmother, used to spread out the linden blossoms on a sheet on our patio redwood table, then brew a tea from the dried blossoms.

 
The Lubeck Lutheran Cathedral is one of the more imposing structures in Lubeck, and also one of the oldest, having been started in the 12th century by Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria.  Its red brick construction and green steeples are mimicked by other churches all over the city.
Legend has it that in the 8th century Charlemagne, hunting in the wooded area that was to become Lubeck, captured a large deer.  Instead of killing it, he draped a heavy gold chain across its antlers.  Four hundred years later, Henry wanted to build a cathedral in Lubeck but did not have the money.  One day while walking the in the woods around the village, he killed a deer and discovered a diamond-encrusted crucifix in its antlers.  When he removed the crucifix, the deer sprang back to life and ran away, and Henry the Lion had his money to begin construction on the cathedral.



Monument to Henry the Lion in the Cathedral yard

Tragically, in March 1942 a bombing raid destroyed a fifth of Lubeck and much of the the cathedral was lost:
Reconstruction, begun shortly after the War ended, was completed in 1982.  As a result, the interior has a very modern feel, including this stained glass window that is an explosion of color and shape:
 . . . and this organ with its clean and simple lines:
The crucifix, however, is the original, rescued from the ruins of the building:
 . . . and the baptistry is an interesting blend of medieval and modern:
This crypt of the cathedral's first bishop, who died in 1341, was also preserved.  I especially like how even in death his hand is raised to bless (although I suppose it could be rigor mortis):

The tedious work of restoration must be an ever-present need:

Just down the street from the Lubeck Cathedral is the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, consecrated in 1891 and the only Catholic church in Lubeck:



Note the picture of the four men on the side of the building.  More about them later.
 I wasn't quite as impressed with this Pieta as I have been with others I have seen:



(Speaking of rigor mortis...)
 But the stained glass windows, with their glowing reds and repeating patterns, are unique and dazzling:

I also loved this block print:
. . . and this beautiful, tender, and very detailed crucifixion scene that includes angels flying around the figure of Christ on the cross:
However, my favorite part of the Sacred Heart church is without question the story of these three Catholic bishops and one Lutheran pastor who were guillotined on November 10th, 1943, for speaking against the Nazi regime.
We were in Lubeck on June 14th, just eleven days before two cardinals from Rome were coming to the city to beatify the three Catholic priests and honor the Lutheran pastor. I wish we could have been there for that event!

Lubeck certainly has beautiful churches, but nothing quite matches the beauty of its most famous export, MARZIPAN.  Lubeckers claim that marzipan was invented here, either during a time of famine or during a military seige when all the citizens had left to eat was almonds and sugar. Anyone who likes marzipan (as I do) has no doubt eaten some from Lubeck, home to the most famous marzipan brand, Niederegger:


There was a wonderful marzipan store, chock full of all kinds of marzipan confections:
 We really enjoyed the on-site bakery:

- - - AND the ice cream shop just outside the front door:



What? Only ONE scoop?
 Not far from the Niederegger Marzipan Store is the charming town square:
 This model of the city center shows the canal that encircles it and the seven churches that are found in a very small area:


COMING NEXT: The rest of Lubeck

5 comments:

  1. I had forgotten how Oma use to make tea out of our linden trees.

    I really, really love the red stained glass. What a beautiful city.

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  2. Chock full of the pointed steepled churches, Lubeck was really a fun little town to spend a day in.

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  3. drool....marzipan.

    What a fun city full of history. I like how the citizens embraced the old and new.

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  4. What a fabulous post! I loved the information about the churches. And the marzipan at the end really got me.

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  5. What I found is that the marzipan in Lubeck is as bad as the marzipan anywhere else. How can two ingredients that are so good (almonds and sugar) turn out so badly?

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