257.  Days 16 and 17: Lübeck

Apparently many cities have a ‘Great Fire’ – often a few.  Copenhagen’s first fire was in 1728 –  usual reasons: wooden houses too close together, hot summer, straw bedding, strong wind to spread it and so on.  The good burghers of Copenhagen, our guide told us, were determined that this wouldn’t happen again.

So they passed laws about building materials and specifications and they also devised an absolute state-of-the-art water pumping system.  Night Watchmen were deployed to various towers around the city so that the alarm could quickly be raised should fire break out.  Which it did, in July 1795.  The Watchman quickly alerted the designated team who set off to get the pumps into use.  Unfortunately, no one could find the key to the pumping equipment and Copenhagen burnt down again.  There’s a lesson there, if one thought hard enough.  I wonder if they checked their dressing gown pockets?

Lübeck, from whence we are currently travelling, had its own massive fire which, combined with bombing by the RAF in March 1942, means that very little remains of the original medieval city.  However, it has largely been sympathetically restored with many red brick houses in Dutch gable style and there are some charming corners.

Lübeck has a canal around it, in effect turning it into a small island.  It was at one time a major trading centre and still has a fairly substantial harbour.  The city is dominated by a few enormous towers. This is the Holstentor, what remains of a complex of buildings at the entry to the town.


It acted partly as a gate, partly barracks and military headquarters, partly as a jail, partly as a statement of power.  It was never actually attacked: when Napoleon arrived to take the town, he simply went around the back.

As you can see,  one of the towers is leaning due to having been built on soft ground.  Nevertheless, we braved the museum on the basis that it’s been there since the 1400s so the chances of it staying up for another thirty minutes were quite high.  The exhibits are very imaginatively put together.  I photographed this model of the town to show you:


ActorLaddie and I went to the top of St Peter’s:

My other favourite place from yesterday was the Behnhau, which had been the home of the architect and artist Joseph Lillie in the early C19th and now exhibits a range of furnishings from the period.

There is also an art collection, including some works by Edvard Munch and although it doesn’t have The Scream, there is one particular that might well be showing us at what the screamer was looking.  See what you think. I love these little museums and galleries, where you can get nose to nose with the exhibits and are not jostling for space.  Here’s a few of the things that caught my eye.

Actually, those ghastly children are, I’m convinced, sitting close behind me on this train; just out of glaring range, though not, alas, out of earshot.

We’ve spent the day travelling. We should have been in Cologne by now but a tree fell on the line just outside Hamburg – a particularly extreme version of leaves on the track – and we were rerouted.  Cologne is just an overnight as tomorrow … we go home, hurrah!! We’re both well ready for that now.

I’ll leave you with a thought: there are no such things as clean and dirty clothes.  Just clothes.

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