Lubeck Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Lubeck Cathedral

Lubeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Lubeck Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in this UNESCO listed city centre.

Peta Stamper

26 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Lubeck Cathedral

Built in 1173, Lübeck Cathedral (Lübecker Dom) is one of the oldest buildings in the UNESCO listed city centre in Germany. Severely damaged by air raids in 1942, the cathedral has since been restored and is a working cathedral open to tourists.

The main attractions at Lübeck Cathedral are various works of art, particular Bernt Notke’s triumphal arch and the 17th century astronomical clock.

Lübeck Cathedral history

In 1173, Henry the Lion or Henry III of the Bavaria and Saxony duchies founded a cathedral to serve the Diocese of Lübeck after the bishop’s seat was moved from Oldenburg. A Romanesque cathedral was completed in 1230, but between 1266 and 1335, was converted to reflect the emerging Gothic styles.

During World War Two on Palm Sunday in March 1942, a British Royal Air Force bombing raid decimated part of Lübekc’s historical centre. Bombs fell around the church resulting in the eastern vault collapse and destroying the altar which had been built in 1696.

As the neighbouring cathedral burnt, the flames spread to Lübeck Cathedral’s truss beams which collapsed the towers and burnt the Arp Schnitger organ. However, a large proportion of the cathedral’s interior survived, including the 17 metre-high cross commissioned by the bishop Albert II and erected in 1477, as well as many medieval scene panels. A further collapse of the compromised structure in 1946 destroyed the vestibule.

After the war, reconstruction on the cathedral began although greater priority was given to the Marienkirche. The restorations were completed in 1982, and in 2001 a replica of Arp Schnitger’s organ was installed. Lübeck Cathedral has since functioned as a concert hall and working cathedral.

Lübeck Cathedral today

It is hard to miss the imposing Gothic twinned-towers of Lübeck Cathedral within the city’s east side, among Lübeck’s 7 towers. Free to visit, inside the white-washed interior you can admire the Baroque side chapels and modern stained-glass window in the eastern wall.

Note that the cathedral is only 105 metres-high – shorter than other churches in Lübeck. This is due to power struggles between the Church and Hanseatic guilds in Lübeck at the time the cathedral was built.

Getting to Lübeck Cathedral

The cathedral is a 15 minute walk from Lübeck’s central station, and the Lübeck Fegefeuer bus stop serving routes 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 15, 16, 17 and more is a 4 minute walk away. Mühlenbrücke Parkplatz is a 2 minute walk away along Wallstraße.