Lübeck – Three Stories

A venerable old city like Lübeck has to have a treasure trove of stories hidden in her alleyways and brickwork, stories which delight and fascinate tourists and locals alike, stories which link the reader to the past and bring those bygone days to life.

Merchants Under Attack:

In the Schiffergesellschaft there is an alcove in the wall which displays an old rifle, a sword and a carved stick, amongst other items. The information board next to the weapons reads: ‘These weapons were captured from Turkish pirates after a heroic fight in the year 1817’.

 On the 3. July, 1817, the brig ‘Industrie’, under the command of Captain Schumann, was set upon by an Algerian brig one mile north of the island ‘Berlenga’  off the Portuguese coast. The pirates captured the German brig and placed an elite Turkish crew on her. Two days later, on the 5. July, Captain Schumann and four of his sailors managed to free themselves. The attacked the Turkish master and his crew of ten, threw the pirates overboard and happily sailed their ship back home. The weapons on display remind us today of this brave deed.

The Devil and the St. Marienkirche

When the first stones of the St. Marienkirche were being laid, the devil believed that it would be a wine bar. He was quite happy because he thought he would gain many more followers who frequently visited wine bars. He joined the crowd of labourers and helped build the church so it grew higher and higher at amazing speed. One day, the devil realised what the building was going to become. He got so angry that he snatched a huge boulder and started to smash the walls which had already been built. He was flying through the air when a brave labourer yelled:

“Stop it, Mr. Devil! Leave what has already been built! We’ll build a wine bar for you nearby." The devil was quite pleased with this idea so he dropped the boulder next to the wall where it is still lying. The labourers built a wine bar opposite the church, under the town hall and everyone was happy.

When Charles IV Visited Lübeck

Some years later, in 1375, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV visited Lübeck with his Empress Elisabeth and their entourages of bishops, earls, dukes, their ladies and no doubt hundreds of serving personnel. The Emperor and Empress were received by monks at the city gates and were accompanied by choristers as they toured the town on horseback. The populace, dressed in their finest costumes, lined the freshly cleaned streets and even the sun shone on this auspicious day.

After an imposing reception, the Emperor and Empress each retired to their separate quarters for some peace and quiet. Their quarters were, however, not quite separate. The town councillors had had the foresight to build a special wooden bridge from the Emperor’s bedroom to the Löwenapotheke where the Empress was lodged. The bridge was beautifully decorated and well used, according to the many people who waited patiently nearby for a glimpse of their Emperor (an early version of paparrazi?).  Whenever the Emperor made use of the bridge to visit his Empress, so many lights burned that the night was lit up like daytime.

The Emperor must have been quite impressed because before he left, he, in thanking the town council, proclaimed the town of Lübeck to be one of only five independent cities, answerable directly to the Emperor. Thus, Lübeck was put on the same level as Florence, Rome, Venice and Pisa which must have made those councillors very smug indeed.