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The Burgkloster (Castle Monastery) in Lubeck is considered to be one of the most important medieval monasteries in Germany. Established in 1229, the Burgkloster served as a monastery until the Protestant Reformation (circa sixteenth century) after which it was used as a poorhouse until the nineteenth century.

Under the Third Reich, the Burgkloster was used as a Nazi prison, bearing witness to terrible atrocities, particularly against Jews and those who formed the resistance movement.

Today, the Burgkloster is a museum of Lubeck’s history. Visitors can tour the building as well as viewing exhibits on the history of Lubeck’s Jewish community and about Lubeck’s time as an important member of the Hanseatic League. This was a medieval trade block which controlled much of the North Sea and Baltic Sea.

Lübeck martyrs

The Lübeck Martyrs were three Roman Catholic priests – Johannes Prassek, Eduard Müller and Hermann Lange – and the Evangelical-Lutheran pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink. All four were executed by beheading on 10 November 1943 less than 3 minutes apart from each other at Hamburg's Holstenglacis Prison (then called Untersuchungshaftanstalt Hamburg-Stadt, in English: Investigative Custody Centre of the City of Hamburg). Eyewitnesses reported that the blood of the four clergymen literally ran together on the guillotine and on the floor. This impressed contemporaries as a symbol of the ecumenical character of the men's work and witness. That interpretation is supported by their last letters from prison, and statements they themselves made during their time of suffering, torture and imprisonment. "We are like brothers," Hermann Lange said.


Karl Friedrich Stellbrink was the second child of the Chief Customs Secretary Karl Stellbrink and his wife Helene Kirchhoff. From 1904 he attended the humanistic high school Leopoldinum in Detmold , then he moved to Spandau and left school in 1913 after graduating from secondary school. After unsuccessful application to the Art Academy in Düsseldorf because he had not yet reached the required age, he turned to theology. In 1913 he entered the diaspora seminar of the Prussian regional church in Soest , which prepared specifically for service abroad.

The First World War delayed his training. In February 1915 he was drafted as a soldier and came to the Western Front, where he was so badly wounded on January 14, 1916 that his left hand was damaged.

On October 1, 1917, Stellbrink was released from military service in Berlin as "50% war disabled ". Here he did social work for the church and a child rescue organization, headed a men's and youth club and prepared for his school leaving examination. He passed his Abitur on March 31, 1919 a year later he passed the final exam at the Soest seminary . For almost a year he came to Barkhausen in the synodal district of Minden as vicar . On March 5, 1921, he married the teacher Hildegard Dieckmeyer. Shortly thereafter, he was in Witten for the ministry overseas ordained .

Community Reviews

I was a bit surprised that Lubeck wasn't included as a single site with Wismar and Stralsund - there are a lot of similarities and such a common history. But, regardless, I found it an interesting place to visit.

I note some previous comments about the encroachment of development and reconstruction, however I found the individual buildings to be quite impressive when viewed in isolation. There is a good breadth of architectural styles and periods represented by the main buildings on the island.

It certainly, however, feels like a relatively modern city with a few patches of history still within it - and that gives it a slightly different feel to the aforementioned cities, which I felt still had more of a traditional Hanseatic feel to the old centres.

Incidentally, Lubeck is actually quite a nice place to spend a night or two and relax and I enjoyed wandering around and spending some time by the river.

Read more from Michael Turtle here.

Protection and management requirements

The laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Schleswig-Holstein guarantee the consistent protection of the . The large number of historic monuments and the Old Town island are protected by the Act on the Protection and Conservation of Monuments in the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein.

The Monument Preservation Plan is the basis for town planning and specific architectural interventions. Furthermore, the historic centre of Lübeck is protected by a preservation statute and a design statute even the quarters of the late 19th century surrounding the Old Town are protected by preservation statutes. The regional development programme of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein ensures the protection of the view axes and the silhouette of the World Heritage property.

The City of Lübeck is responsible for the management of the World Heritage property. The coordination between the stakeholders is organised by a World Heritage commissioner within the municipal structure in order to duly indicate potential threats to the Outstanding Universal Value and to ensure the integration of relevant issues into the planning procedures, an integrative monitoring approach and a sustainable development of the World Heritage property. Complemented by the Management Plan, this differentiated protective system guarantees an efficient preservation of the historical substance of the property. To protect and sustain the Outstanding Universal Value, a buffer zone and additional view axes outside the buffer zone are in place to ensure the long-term protection and sustained preservation of the important views and of the structural integrity.

In addition, external experts meet regularly in consultative bodies to monitor quality and discuss suitable solutions in town planning and construction practice.

Regarding the tourism and visitor management, a tourism development concept (TDC) forms the basis for strategic activities.

Castle Monastery & Castle Gate in Lübeck

Everything began on Bucu hill in the North of the town. This was where the “Queen of the Hanseatic League” was born for it was here that Adolf II von Schauenburg built a castle in 1143 and founded Lübeck as the first German harbour town on the Baltic Sea. In 1229, a monastery was built to replace the castle in the form of a Dominican monastery in honour of its patron saint Maria Magdalena. There were 4 monasteries in Lübeck in the Middle Ages. The Castle Monastery is considered one of the most important medieval monastery complexes in North Germany and forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lübeck.

The Castle Gate is Lübeck’s oldest city gate

The Castle Gate is Lübeck’s oldest city gate of what were formerly four gates forming part of the medieval town fortifications. Along with the Holsten Gate, it is the only one that has been preserved to this day and still actively used as an entrance to the Old Town. And although it is a few years older than the Holsten Gate, it has always played second fiddle to the Holsten Gate in terms of fame. Quite unjustly as the Castle Gate is full of history and unique stories. As the Gate to the North, even in the 13th century, it guarded the only land link to the “Queen of the Hanseatic League” against invaders as the channel dug between the Wakenitz and the Trave that made the town an island only came several centuries later. It was named after the old castle complex situated high above the Trave that was converted to a monastery in 1227.

The landmarks of the city are even more impressive from the waterside.

The castle monastery becomes a place of culture and Hanseatic history

Until 2011, in addition to the Kulturforum, the archaeological museum with the famous Lübeck coin treasure was located in the Castle monastery. In 2015 the restored Castle monastery was integrated into the modern ensemble of the European Hansemuseum and brought to new life through the exhibition on the history of the Hanseatic trading league. Explore the unique history of the castle monastery on your own or discover the eventful past with the help of an audio guide.

Journey through time in the European Hansemuseum

The European Hansemuseum invites you on a thrilling journey through 600 years of Hanseatic history. It tells all you need to know about the former international trading alliance of the Hanseatic League – of the courage of the merchants, life in foreign lands, wealth, pomp and circumstance, piracy, sickness and death. Tip: The roof terrace of the Hansemuseum offers you a magnificent panoramic view over the harbour and in the summer, it represents a social meeting point and a cool event location with its restaurants.


The European Hansemuseum has won multiple awards for its outstanding, modern architecture among other awards, architect Andreas Heller won the DAM prize in 2017 for the Hansemuseum as a “natural synthesis of archaeology, conservation orders and new architecture with his plausible, fixed staging of the exhibition”. In 2019, Andreas Heller won the Schleswig-Holstein BDA award for the European Hansemuseum. Besides the blending of the new building with the castle hill, the jury praised the way in which the integration of the historical castle monastery with the museum seemed “self-evident”.

Did you know?

With the onset of the Reformation, the monastery was dissolved in 1531 and a poorhouse moved into the medieval premises. At the end of the 19th century, it was converted to a court building with adjoining remand centre. Two cells of the prison and a lay judge courtroom bear witness today to this stage in the castle monastery’s history. The castle monastery is thus at the same time a reminder of the time of National Socialism in Lübeck and the victims who were imprisoned and sentenced here.

Lübeck, the city of the famous seven spires, even used to have an eighth spire. It belonged to the former Maria Magdalena church of the Castle Monastery, but it was torn down with the church in 1818. What a pity!

When the Danish King Waldemar II and his army were rampaging at the gates of Lübeck in order to capture the town, the princes around Lübeck and Lübeck’s citizens got together and the crucial battle took place near Bornhöved on 22 July 1227, the holy Maria Magdalena’s day. For a long time, the battle raged and the alliance was slowly losing ground because its soldiers were dazzled by the sun. There was a reason for this as on the morning of the battle, Lübeck’s councillors had assembled to pray to God and the holy Mary for help. In the event of winning the battle, they promised to build a monastery in honour of God and the holy Mary with the latter to be its patron saint. Their prayers were apparently answered as the holy Mary Magdalena appeared, held her cloak in front of the sun and darkened the sky. So the Castle Monastery was named after Mary Magdalena.

The Castle Gate is indeed the only one of the four city gates to be attacked and overrun by enemy soldiers in battle over the centuries. For example, Napoleon’s French troops succeeded in entering the city in 1806 and occupying it for some years. This was the beginning of a tough time for Lübeck.

One special rarity from the time of the Napoleonic wars and the painful period of French occupation in Lübeck is a chamber pot with a picture of Napoleon at the bottom of it. When answering a call of nature, Lübeck citizens were thus able to express unmistakably what they thought of the hated occupier Napoleon, albeit in the dark.

Although the people of Lübeck definitely resented Napoleonic rule, it wasn’t all bad from today’s perspective as the French introduced new, even revolutionary methods. For example, the French prefect introduced an official death register in 1811, and in 1812 a decree was issued banning burials within the city walls. Previously the dead – apart from victims of the plague, leprosy or cholera – had usually been buried in the churches, churchyards or within the walls of a monastery. There were good reasons for doing so as people were aware of their fallibility, saw themselves as weak sinners and felt threatened by Satan and his machinations. The fear that the Devil could seize their soul on their death was very real, and in spite of prior confession and absolution, people simply felt safer on ground over which Satan had no control. This led to a considerable shortage of space at the beginning of the 19th century and to problems of hygiene. Although the new directive on burials was initially rejected by the people of Lübeck and lifted again one year later when the city was freed, reason finally prevailed with the inauguration of the Castle Gate cemetery outside the gates of the city in 1832.

If you would like to immerse yourself in the exciting story of the medieval Castle Monastery, you can visit the European Hansemuseum and explore this historical monument that has been integrated with the modern architecture of the Hansemuseum.

In 1942, the Catholic chaplains Johannes Prassek, Hermann Lange, Eduard Müller and the Protestant pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink were imprisoned in the Castle monastery. Together they took a firm stand in public and among the parishioners entrusted to their care against the crimes of the Nazi regime.

Tinte selber herstellen

»Hast du schon gehört…?« war im Mittelalter wohl die meist gestellte Frage, denn der Großteil der Menschen war auf mündliche Erzählungen, Berichte und Geschichten angewiesen. Schreiben, dass konnten nur Wenige. … Ещё Doch bevor diese beginnen konnten, musste so einiges vorbereitet werden. Pergament musste präpariert, die Schreibfeder angespitzt und die Tinte gekocht werden. Feder anspitzen? Tinte kochen?
Erfahre von Frank Kock und Frank Thomas vom Geschichtserlebnisraum Roter Hahn, wie man seine eigene mittelalterliche Tinte kocht. Dafür braucht ihr nichts weiter, als Essig, rostige Nägel und einen Papierkaffeefilter oder ein Tuch. Mit dieser Tinte, die dem mittelalterlichen Original aus Eisenvitrol und Galläpfeln sehr nahekommt, könnt ihr nun loslegen!
An wen schreibt ihr euren ersten Brief mit mittelalterlicher Tinte?

Europäisches Hansemuseum Lübeck

While fleeing the civil war in 1989 , Kazimi and his family emigrated to Germany via Iran and Uzbekistan . Rohullah Kazimi has lived in Hamburg since 1995. Since 2007 he has been working as a visual artist in the Schlumper studio. The Schlumper are a Hamburg studio community for artists with different disabilities. Kazimi says: "Art is that you work freely and not like graphic designers (advertising)."

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World Heritage Center of Lübeck

Today's Lübeck appears much as it did in medieval days and it has regained its throne as the Königin der Hanse (Queen City of the Hanseatic League). The World Heritage site is the best place to start exploring.

The Burgkloster (castle monastery) contains the original foundations of the city's long-lost castle. Next, the Koberg area is a fine example of a late 18th-century neighborhood including Jakobi Church and the Heilig-Geist-Hospital. More churches, Petrichurch in the north and the Dom (cathedral) to the south, surround Patrician residences from the 15th and 16th centuries. There are actually seven church steeples punctuating the city skyline, with the Marienkirche (Saint Mary's) one of the oldest from the 13th century. The Rathaus (town hall) and Markt (market place) are also here and though they display the effects of WWII bombings, are still quite spectacular.

On the left bank of the river there remains elements of Lübeck's working past with Salzspeicher (salt storehouses). Also on this side of the river is Holstentor, one of the most identifiable structures of the city. Built in 1478, it is one of only two remaining city gates. The other gate, Burgtor, is from 1444.

A visit to Lübeck is not complete without taking some time to enjoy the waterfront. Historic ships, Fehmarnbelt and the Lisa von Lübeck, are moored in the harbor and welcome visitors. To get in the water, visit one of Germany's best beaches at nerby Travemünde.

If the weather is more parka than swimsuit, Lübeck has an enchanting Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) from late November to Silvester (New Years Eve).


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