‘Venice of Westphalia’
Lippstadt owes its name (and indeed its nickname ‘Venice of Westphalia’) to the River Lippe, multiple branches of which flow through the town. Lippstadt is situated amidst neatly tended parkland and is a delightful place to visit thanks to its many waterways. This vibrant town on the River Lippe has a lot to offer in other respects, too: high recreational value, a neat, spacious pedestrian zone with attractive shops, and some great cafés and restaurants. Furthermore, there are big local employers in the form of well-known industrial companies. Even in the Middle Ages, Lippstadt was one of the most beautiful towns in Westphalia. Nowadays, life there is characterized by its heritage, its attractive setting, exclusivity, and a welcoming atmosphere.
Lippstadt became an important trading hub thanks to its location on the Lippe ford and the granting of its town charter. Annual fairs date back to at least 1244. Lippstadt benefited from both the wide range of goods sold by merchants and the stall fees charged. Substantial economic development took place in the Middle Ages when the town had its own mint. Initially only producing coins for England, in the mid-13th century, it also began making its own coins featuring the Lippian rose. Lippstadt was a member of the second Westphalian League of Towns and in the 12th and 13th centuries was also in the Hanseatic League. In 1540, the city was raised to the rank of principal city of the Hanseatic League and remained a member until its dissolution in 1669.
During the Reformation, the Thirty Years War and the period when it was still a fortified town, Lippstadt was afflicted by not only a series of major fires (almost inevitable in those days) but also witch trials and epidemics. All in all, many thousands of people died, commerce declined, and there were severe food shortages. No sooner had the town recovered than the Seven Years War broke out. Since Lippstadt lay in a region crisscrossed by opposing armies, it was besieged and occupied on several occasions.
The main thoroughfare in the town centre is Lange Strasse. Although small shops are said to be dying out these days, that’s not the case in Lippstadt, where they contribute much to the town’s high quality of life for both visitors and locals. In fact, Lippstadt has a wide variety of flourishing shops, boutiques, ice cream parlours, cafés and restaurants. Walking along Südertor, Lange Strasse and Lippetor, pedestrians cross the River Lippe, its branches and the canal four times. A stroll through the town reveals a delightful juxtaposition of park-like green spaces, attractive half-timbered houses, franchise eateries such as Café Extrablatt, and traditional restaurants like Goldener Hahn (The Golden Rooster). In addition to the obligatory steaks, Goldener Hahn also serves stews, soups, and the traditional meal of smoked pork loin with sauerkraut. In the summer, some of the most popular places in town are the beer gardens on islands in the River Lippe, one example being at the Tivoli restaurant.
The town’s modern theatre accommodating an audience of 787 was also built next to the water and looks beautiful in the evening when seen from the river. There is always much of interest to discover in Lippstadt, be it historical, artistic or idyllic. But water is the lifeblood of the town, and light, water and life are its lodestars. Hotels large and small as well as restaurants traditional and modern make it a very hospitable place to explore.