Alleys & Courtyards

©Bernd Schmidt©Katharina Pierre©Katharina Pierre

Take a tour of the alleys and courtyards in Lübeck's Old Town. They are the remains of the medieval urban development. Still inhabited today, they have become a peaceful oasis in the centre of the Old Town.

The magical world of doll houses: That so much of this secluded quarter in the heart of the Old Town has survived today is down to the care and attention lavished on it by the citizens of Lübeck. Many other towns cleared such areas for new buildings.

The diversity of the alleyways and courtyards is something quite unique throughout the world.

An air of secrecy and adventure shrouds the alleys and courtyards: Visitors often need to leave familiar paths, watch their heads by entrances and exits and it can take a few minutes before eyes have adjusted to the somewhat dim surroundings of the peaceful oases. Many of the alleyways lead into another alley or catch visitors by surprise by depositing them into a familiar street.

It is like dropping back into the Middle Ages in the peace and seclusion of this world: The densely-built alleyways sprang up as a result of the successful trading activities and rapid growth of the "Queen of the Hanseatic League". However, it quickly became crowded inside the walls as the Old Town hill didn't expand at the same rate.  Passageways running through the front houses were created and the yards in the rear were built up with so-called huts known as "Buden".

These were just one storey at the time and only had a single room. None of these wooden huts are standing now. But many of their stone successors still remain today, some of them more than 400 years old - as tiny and as colourful as doll houses. 

The social institutions are also a special feature of Lübeck and are still, quite rightly, a source of pride today: Respected Lübeck citizens established foundations to ensure that the widows and orphans of sailors and merchants were well cared for. The most famous of these is the early baroque Füchtingshof. The councillor, Johann Füchting, willed a third of his legacy in 1636 to "the use and benefit of the poor". The focal point of the courtyard is an outstanding structure with meeting room and director's room, generally considered to be the most beautiful example of interior rooms from the 17th century in Lübeck.

As these alleys and courtyards are still lived in today, the inhabitants would be grateful if you bear this in mind on your journey of discovery.  

Tip: Füchtingshof, guided tour Alleys and Courtyards