Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Schleswig-Holstein
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Schleswig-Holstein is Germany’s most northern state, extending into the Jutland peninsular, with the North Sea to the west and the Baltic Sea to the east. The western coastline of this state is part of the largest unbroken ecosystem of intertidal mudflats anywhere in the world – this is the Wadden Sea. With such a strong maritime connection. the region has a fascinating and rich maritime heritage. The UNESCO listed Hanseatic City of Lübeck was the Queen City of the Hanseatic League. While in North Frisia the centuries long attempts by the various communities on both  the mainland and the many halligen (islands) to reclaim the sea is evident in a characteristic way of life still today. Another way of life has been reconstructed at the archaeological site of Hedeby, another UNESCO  listed site. Until the 11th century this part of Germany was controlled by the Vikings. From their trading port near the present day town of Schleswig, Vikings exercised great power and influence over northern Europe.

Create Your Schleswig-Holstein Itinerary & Travel Lists

Historical Towns & Cities in Schleswig-Holstein

Friedrichstadt

Friedrichstadt was founded in 1621 by Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp in an attempt to set up a trading port between Spain and the East Indies via routes though Russia. He offered religious and cultural freedom to Dutch groups facing religious persecution in their homeland. The Dutch presence in the 17th and 18th century accounts for the characteristic Dutch architecture. The Dutch soon returned to the Netherlands, and the town never quite achieved the status hoped for. Today it is a popular summer attraction.

Hanseatic City of Lübeck

As the ‘Queen of the Hanseatic League’, Lübeck was the most powerful member city of the Hansa medieval trade network. Despite suffering considerable damage during WW2, the old city has retained much of its historic character. Winding streets, many still lined with 15th and 16th century residences of wealthy merchants, original salt storehouses from which these traders made their fortunes, the Holstentor city gate, the seven spires of Lübeck are just some of the must-see attractions. The historic quarter of Lübeck was added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 1987.

Archaeology & History Sites in Schleswig-Holstein

Arnkiel-Park

About 8 km south of Flensburg is Arnkiel archaeological park, a two-hectare space with six funerary monuments. Including one large, 70 m long reconstructed ‘Hünenbett’, or ‘long bed’ burial chamber. The megalithic structures at Arnkiel-Park date to the Neolithic period between 4200 – 1700 BC. An onsite information centre provides extensive information in different languages about the archaeology of the site and the area.

Castle outside Husum

Construction on Schloss Vor Husum began in 1577 on the site of a Franciscan monastery. It was built for Adolf I, the first Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf. At this time the castle was situated just beyond the town gate, hence its name. Just as this part of Schleswig-Holstein has changed hands between the Germans and the Danes, so too the castle has changed its role, from a ducal house to a royal residence for the Danish royal family. In May the park that surrounds the castle is a popular local attraction for the crocus blooms.

Ladelund Concentration Camp Memorial

Some 2,000 prisoners from 12 different countries were held at a concentration camp just outside the village of Ladelund in the very north of Schleswig-Holstein. The prisoners were brought here in November 1944 to dig an anti-tank trench along the German-Danish border. During the six weeks the camp was open, 300 people died and are buried in the village cemetery. A documentation centre has been set up near the mass graves, from where you can take a short walk to see an excavated section of the trench, and the site of the camp.

Memorial to the Victims of Langenberger Forest Labour Camp

At the entrance to Langenberger Forest just outside of Leck is a large rock, with the inscription: “Human dignity is inviolable. In memory of the victims of forced labour in the Langenberger Forest Camp 1943 – 1945.” It was laid on 8 May 2002.  The memorial is set between a two of a number of ditches, which were dug by inmates held at the nearby prisoner of war camp. These trenches were anti-tank ditches, thought to have been dug sometime in the first half of 1944 in anticipation of a land attack by the Allies. Nothing remains of the prisoner of war camp today.

Oldenburg Slavic Burg

In the middle of the town of Oldenburg in Holstein stands a typical Slavic burg – fort or castle. The first phase of this structure was built towards the end of the 7th century AD, making this the oldest Slavic castle in Germany. And one of the most important archaeological sites in Schleswig-Holstein. Even in the 11th century it was known as the ‘old castle’, hence the origins of the name of the town. Excavations in the 1970s and the 1980s revealed the site was a princely court in the 9th and 10th centuries, with an episcopal church and pagan sanctuary.

Papenbusch Burial Chamber

In a park on the north easter edge of the town of Albersdorf is a reconstructed dolmen, thought to be from the Funnelbeaker culture. Situated on a low rise, the burial chamber measures 2.4 × 1.2 m internally, with a single capstone. A passage measuring 1.1 m long and 0.55 m wide leads to the chamber. Two flat stones were found nearby, an these may have been further capstones for the chamber and passage. The German prehistorian Karl Kersten examined the site in 1946, and is responsible for the restoration.

Museums & Art Galleries in Schleswig-Holstein

Ditmarschen Stone Age Park

South of Albersdorf is a Stone Age open-air museum, in an area that is rich in prehistoric megalithic sites. In an area covering 40 hectares visitors can explore a Stone Age hunters’ camp and as well as a village belonging to the region’s earliest farmers. The onsite museum explores over 100,000 years of human history in Schleswig-Holstein. A must is the reconstructed burial mound, through which visitors can walk and learn about the burial practices of prehistoric people.

Frisian Museum, Niebüll

A two-hundred year old long house, that was until 1929 a functioning agricultural residence, is the setting for a local history museum with an impressive exhibition of ethnographic artefacts. The collection has its origins when in 1864 Friedrich August Feddersen, a local pastor, began collecting objects of local Frisian life and culture. Today these objects are displayed in various living spaces and stables of the 23-metre longhouse to give an idea of Frisian daily life, from an extensive set of kitchen appliances to the tools that were used in roofing.

Haithabu Viking Settlement

Within the semi-circular 10th century rampart, and not far from the Wikinger Museum Haithabu, is a reconstructed Viking village. The reconstructions, including its location, is based on the results of archaeological excavations of the Viking commercial port. Visitors are free to wonder around the various buildings. Regular Viking-themed events are held at the site, at which time period foods and crafts are on sale. An entry ticket to the museum includes entry to the reconstructed village.

Ladelund Village Museum

What was once the town’s last wheelwright’s workshop has been turned into a popular North Frisian ethnographic museum. Besides the wheelwright’s workshop, the museum includes a shoemaker’s workshop and a number of artefacts and machines relating to the history of agriculture in the area. Displays also include objects relating to aspects of daily life, from schooling to laundry, from the kitchen and household furnishings. This range of artefacts is complimented by an extensive collection of historic photographs.

Marschenpark

In a small park on the edge of the North Frisian town of Niebüll, features used to control the flood waters from the North Sea have been reconstructed. These include drainage channels, a warft and a hallig. There are also four dyke profiles, showing the changes in dyke construction from the 1600 to the present. The various features are the kind that have been used for centuries to reclaim land from the sea, and to protect land from flooding. A perfect place to spend an hour to learn more about the North Frisian landscape.

Museum for Dithmarschen Archaeology & Ecology

Situated in the historic Albersdorfer Bahnhofshotel, the Museum für Archäologie und Ökologie Dithmarschen is the only archaeology museum along the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein. The museum has a permanent exhibition that traces the history of human in the area during the Stone Age. In particular, human’s interactions with the environment here. A highlight of the museum is a collection of amber stones, with trapped insects. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions about prehistory and ecology.

Nolde Museum Seebüll

Seebüll on the North Sea coast is the historic house of the well known, and controversial artist Emil Nolde. Begin your visit with a film about the life of the artist, that does not shy away from his association with the National Socialists and the Third Reich. Explore his house, which contains many of his paintings. Tour his beautifully maintained garden, in which he and his wife were laid to rest. From the museum hiking trails allow you to see more of the countryside he painted. Whatever you think of his art and his political associations during WWII, this is a fascinating experience.

Oldenburger Wall Museum

Not far from the site of the site of the Oldenburg Slavic Castle is the Oldenburg Wall Museum. Here visitors can explore around 20 reconstructed buildings, among them domestic dwellings and a pre-Christian religious building. The reconstructions are based on archaeological finds in the area. Exhibitions present the early medieval history of Oldenburg as a centre of trade, politics and religion in Ostholstein 1,000 years ago. During the summer season, costumed re-enactors are on hand to show visitors what life was like for the Slavic people of these times.

Ostfelder Farmhouse, Husum

Founded in 1899, the Ostenfelder Bauernhaus is Germany’s oldest open-air museum. The house, built sometime before 1600 in Lower Saxony, was rescued from being taken to Denmark by a local teacher, and re-constructed in his home town of Husum in 1899. The museum gives visitors an idea of what everyday farming life and work was like in former times. The house is from a time when animals and people shared the same building. The furniture is typical of farmhouses in the 18th and 19th centuries, as are the household items and farm tools.

Richard-Haizmann-Museum, Niebüll

Since 1985 what was Niebüll’s 1920s, two-story town hall, on the town square, has been an art gallery. Named after the sculptor, painter and graphic artist Richard Haizmann, who lived in the town from 1934 until his death in 1963, the museum celebrates the artist with a permanent exhibition of his work. Each year the art gallery hosts a number of temporary exhibitions, promoting the work of North German and Scandinavian artists, as well as contemporary artists from other areas of Germany and Europe.