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Red Brick Gothic

 

 

Brick Gothic – Fascinating Cultural Heritage

For centuries, the influence of the Hanseatic League shaped life along the coasts of the Baltic Sea and further inland. In this region, the economy flourished in medieval times and civic consciousness and identity arose. Until today, gates and town houses, city halls and monasteries, hall churches and basilicas bear witness to power and prosperity of that time. Each preserved structure or building carries on the architectural traditions and skills of its time. Taking into consideration the age of the structures and their durability despite constant use and various tribulations over the centuries, each preserved structure can be deemed a masterpiece. The European Route of Brick Gothic connects this cultural heritage – 34 cities and regions in Denmark, Germany and Poland and several partners in Baltic States are your hosts.

Beyond Brick Gothic, there is a lot more to discover by culture addicts, visitors seeking recreation and time travellers: solitary ice-age landscapes, picturesque lakes, forests and rivers, cliffs, beaches and sand dunes, coasts and wind-lashed shallow bays, castles, ruins, palaces and manors from a wide variety of eras. And a tower of a brick church always looks out from behind some trees or stands out against the cityscape. The church is probably Gothic – Brick Gothic.

That is because Brick Gothic has left its mark on the landscape. Religious and secular buildings tell a common story, characterised by upheavals from the 13th century on: the golden age of the Hanseatic League, the founding of monasteries and cities, the construction of castles by knights‘ orders, the significance of the Baltic Sea in medieval Europe. The following centuries brought many ups and downs – with times of prosperity and of devastation. Many of the magnificent Brick Gothic monuments withstood these tumultuous times. Yet it is only recently that visitors have been able to experience, along the „European Route of Brick Gothic“, how cities and countries around the Baltic Sea are interwoven with each other due to their cultural history.

Bricks are indeed a common building material from Denmark to Estonia, but in architecture we find as many different solutions as there are buildings. This is despite the fact that, for instance, churches were constructed with the assistance and under the guidance of German master-builders not only in Germany, but across different countries, including Estonia. Application of bricks is not limited to walls and fine arches – after all, burned clay was used to make the terracotta sculptures in the Tartu Jaani Church, of which over 1,000 have been preserved to this day.

The cultural heritage of Brick Gothic is easily recognisable and an outstanding characteristic of the region. It glows red in the sun, is always visible, simple yet grandiose, artistically accomplished, and brimming with history and stories. It always enchants visitors with its grand and beautiful decor everywhere: St. Mary’s church in Lübeck, St. Anne’s Church in Vilnius and different town fortifications with their imposing gate structures. Brick Gothic structures outlived dozens of religious and worldly leaders, are older than the oldest universities, were models for Caspar David Friedrich and Lyonel Feininger. They are today the cultural counterpoint to spas, cycling, golf, hiking and aquatic sports.

Brick Gothic is a uniting motif in the Baltic Sea region, underscoring our common history and similar ways of thinking. It is an inseparable part of our daily lives.

 
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