History by the sea

Sea bathing traditionin Travemünde

A 200-year success story as a resort

It all started in 1802 when the seaside resort of Travemünde was founded. Following Heiligendamm and Norderney, it is Germany’s third oldest seaside resort. The newfangled “invention” of bathing in the sea turned life in the little fishing village on its head, and the success story as a resort took its course.

Bathing culture in Travemünde

Sea bathing became fashionable at that time in well-to-do circles, albeit initially only from a wooden bathing machine and under the supervision of a spa doctor. Until then, swimming in the dark waves of the sea had been regarded as uncultivated and dangerous. In the very first year following its foundation, the resort counted 3,000 bathers which was pretty good business. The queues at the bathing machines and in the hot bathhouse became ever longer until finally in 1873, a sea water swimming facility was constructed on piles in the water. This was an immense boost to bathing operations, as large numbers of visitors could now bathe in the sea at the same time although men and women were still kept separate. In 1927, bathing was also approved from beach chairs.

What does resort architecture look like?

Hotels, guest houses, beach villas and amusement palaces sprouted like mushrooms in the new resort. Around 1860, some of the first lodging houses were replaced by “Swiss Houses” in Alpine style which was highly fashionable in those days. They went with the times in order to please the guests. The most beautiful beach villas can be found right on the beach promenade and in Kaiserallee. Today, they are part of the typical resort architecture with a great variety of different architectural styles from Classic via the Wilhelmine era to decorative Art Nouveau. Today, Travemünde’s nostalgic appearance of which Vorderreihe and the Old Town around St. Lorenz church form part, is being supplemented by many modern hotels, holiday complexes and leisure facilities. If you would like to know more about the history of the resort of Travemünde , visit Seebadmuseum in Torstraße.

Rüdiger Ohlhoff

The hobby historian and PASSAT connoisseur tells the success story of the seaside resort 

> read more here

The resort goes international

Technical progress brought the first steam shipping line to Travemünde in 1824. Every week, the side-wheel paddle steamer “Princessia Wilhelmine” brought visitors across the Baltic Sea from refined Copenhagen to Travemünde. Connections to and from Saint Petersburg, Riga and Reval followed soon thereafter. Famous Russians who lodged in Travemünde at that time were Ivan Turgenev, Nikolai Gogol and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Travemünde really began to fill up from 1882 onwards when the first railway line came and a couple of years later when cars started to become a common mode of transport. Guests from near and far enjoyed the glamour of the imperial era in Travemünde and travelled to watch the sailing competitions during Travemünde Sailing Week and the horse racing on Priwall. Famous names like Joseph von Eichendorff, Emanuel Geibel, Richard Wagner, Clara Schumann, Edvard Munch and of course Thomas Mann all feature on the list of prominent visitors to the historic seaside resort.

In the afternoon briefly put bare feet in the sand. Made an unpleasant impression

Franz Kafka, Diary entry 1914

Travemünde’s casino

Gambling was a magical draw for high society and had a decisive impact on Travemünde's reputation as a fashionable seaside resort. It was first officially approved in the Kurhaus (spa house) – today the A-ROSA Resort – in 1833 and roulette, rouge et noire and faro had a magical effect on well-heeled guests from all over the world. In 1949, a casino opened in the “Kursaal” – today the ATLANTIC Grand Hotel Travemünde. In 2012, the casino moved to Lübeck and since then it has been located in Hotel Park Inn By Radisson right by the Holsten Gate.

© Sammlung Rolf Fechner

Strandpromenade (beach promenade) is an historical place for strolling

Great importance has always been attached to promenading in Travemünde. As early as 1899, summer guests at the resort were able to enjoy the fresh sea breeze and the open view over the Baltic Sea on a walk along the beach on a paved promenade. The elegant curve of the high parapet to the promenade was also intended to protect the newly built beach villas on the promenade and along Kaiserallee from high tides and floods.

Today, the resort is proud of its comprehensively refurbished Strandpromenade which with its length of 1.7 kilometres is considered Schleswig-Holstein’s most beautiful promenade. It leads from Nordermole – past the Strandterrassen beach terraces and Brügmann Gardens – to the old Mövenstein swimming pool at the transition to the steep coast of Brodten. All along the promenade, there are large hotels, wonderful beach villas and small cafés. From here you have a great view of the grandiose spectacle when small and large ships in Lübeck Bay set a course for Travemünde.

Summer resort in Art Nouveau

Well-to-do Lübeck entrepreneur Emil Possehl had today’s “Villa Mare” built as a representative summer villa on Strandpromenade in Travemünde for one million gold marks. Originally, this Art Nouveau building with its striking colonnade was intended as a summer residence for the visit of the German Emperor for Travemünde Sailing Week. Later, Emil Possehl and his wife used it privately for their own resort by the sea.

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