Not only because auf an early 1990’s video game, I am deeply interested in the Hansa and its history. Thus, it has been a no-brainer deciding what to do during an a couple of hours stay in the former Hansa City of Lübeck in Northern Germany – I just had to spend some time in the Europäisches Hansemuseum – the European Hansa Museum. Here are my thoughts.
European Hansa Museum – Location & Admission
The museum is located at the very Northern tip of Lübeck’s old town. You also have a lovely view of the river Trave and the harbor area from the terrace on the top. It is also just a short walk to the town’s center. You can easily reach the museum by bus – there is a stop right in front of the museum – you just either have to walk up some stairs or take the elevator. The area features numerous parking opportunities in case you arrive by car.
The museum is opening daily from 10:00 to 18:00 hrs. Due to Covid-19 restriction, you had to book a time slot in advance. The museum suggests a visiting time of 90 minutes to two hours. If you want to read a lot and dig deep into the museum, I would at least recommend that time. My visit was a bit more sloppy and took me some 75 minutes. Adult admission is 13 Euro. In parallel to my visit, the museum drove the LEGO bricks exhibition Hanse Steinreich, which required an additional ticket.
European Hansa Museum – The Visit
The concept of the museum is really cool. Your entrance ticket (you get a new one, even if you have a print-at-home online ticket). At a terminal before you enter the in fact exhibition, you are selecting three things, which are stored on your ticket. First of all, you can choose between German, English, Swedish and Russian language. Then you may select a city you are interested in. The museum leads you through the history of the Hansa over time – and some screens tell you what “your” city was alike the same time.
Finally, there is some general topic you get some additional information about. This felt to be confusing to me at first sight, but was overall very well done. You see i the pictures below (illustratively) that my RFID set to English really changed the display screens as well as the signage on the first part of your visit.
You start your visit at the original excavation site, before you head into the first stage of your visit, to Novgorod. The museum is typically altering between an “illustrative place” (my wording) and what they call a “gallery”. The illustrative place is thereby having less original items, but a lot of information and a nice exhibition, which is showing you how places looked alike at certain points in time. In addition to that, you have a lot of interactive screens. For example, in this first stage, you learn that the traders could only reach the Russian city when there was no ice on the river or how the typical ships at that time have been constructed.
Any of these illustrative areas also gives you information about traditional trading goods for that place, import as well as export. The “galleries” have original exhibits (or facsimiles at least) and feel more like traditional museums. In these sections, you may have audio stations, at which you select the language with your RFID card – but overall, your ticket is interacting much more in the other sections.
Very Balanced View on the History of the Hansa
Some of the next sections give you an insight about how the villages and cities developed over time and how houses have been constructed in Lübeck. The museum, however, is also focusing on critical topics like crusades in the name of the Hansa. One of the most beautiful spots of the museum is the illustration of the market in Bruges. The display is just amazing and shows very nicely the importance of the nowadays Belgian city in trade.
The next parts feature the impact of the plague, but also the role of London around 1500. One of the most beautifully done sections is the exhibition about the Hansetage (literally: Hansa Days), in which the Hansa Cities met. You see sample topics they are debating, but also the entertainment program (like dinner menus) in the museum.
Relgion And The End
The last sections of the museum deal with the importance, but also the rather bad topics related to the Hansa and religion (which, of course, means Christianity). You also learn about how the church attracted richer people to selling of indulgences to avoid hell. Finally, the very last display shows how three big Hansa leaders somehow terrified look at the word Neuzeit – New Age. The Hansa just has been too inflexible to react on how times have been changing – thus, they became more and more unimportant and finally did not play any major role in trade.
European Hansa Museum – Services
At the lobby area, the Europäisches Hansemuseum features a really nice cafe with some nice views of the harbor. Of course, there is also a souvenir store. There was a lot of literature, but also building bricks due to the parallel special exhibition.
European Hansa Museum – My View
The European Hansa Museum is really an amazing visit. There is a lot of information. I also love the way they change between illustrative parts and the galleries, which show original items or at least facsimiles of them. Being able to adjust the language and some other screens with your ticket is of course an amazing option. Very modern, entertaining and educative place, loved it!
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