It’s quite astonishing what you can do with brick. Not just Brick Gothic but also Brick Renaissance. Why did no one think of this in Bletchley!
Lübeck was the HQ of the Hansestic League and – like Dutch towns around the old Zuider Zee – has the air of an immensely wealthy past. Brick was the building material for centuries, so they had plenty of practice in how to make the most of it – even, sometimes, plastering over it, like icing on a Christmas cake:
My first trip was to the top of the Petrikirche tower by lift, from where I had tremendous views of the town.
The Petrikirche was so badly damaged in the 1942 bombing that it was never restored as a church. The ensuing fires, however, revealed some of the centuries-old paintwork on the walls and arches – another reminder that the churches and cathedrals we visit today have been bleached by 500 years of Protestantism.
Lübeck suffered some damage in the war but not as much as similar German cities. There was a display in the Marienkirche of the destruction and rebuilding of Lübeck’s churches, and it’s difficult to imagine from the photographs how much more Lübeck could have withstood. There was even a flyer dropped by the RAF at the time making an explicit link between this bombing and the Luftwaffe’s of Coventry.
I then went on a guided tour of the Rathaus and understood about one word in ten. The hideous Rococo Audienzsaal was the seat of the court of the Hansestic League, and it was interesting to see how extensions and renovations had taken place over the centuries. So in the entrance hall there were glossy black bricks handmade in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, and next to them were some machine-made ones in a nineteenth-century extension. I was amused to learn that the very impressive covered Dutch Renaissance stairway outside now serves only as the emergency exit.
Of my three Hansestic Rathaüser this month, I like Bremen most. Both Bremen and Lübeck have the story of the Judgement of Solomon in their most important chambers.
Then wandering around in the sunshine, ambling down any street that looked interesting until I wanted some lunch. I came across the back of the Stadttheater first, which, ultimately, I preferred to the front. Just as Brussels art nouveau sometimes becomes fussy, so German Jugendstil sometimes looks plain odd.
Cherry blossom is out here; Stockholm seems a long way away.