Westphalian Hanse:

where the Hanse lives


A Hanseatic League in Westphalia? This tends to be the reaction if the Westphalian towns in the Hanseatic League present themselves as Hanseatic towns. Because the best-known Hanseatic towns ate the big cities on the North Sea and Baltic coasts. It is important to remember, however, that it was mainly merchants from Westphalia who, in the course of their trading journeys across Europe, settled in Lübeck from where they opened up new trading areas.

Originally founded as an organisation for the representation and mutual protection of trading interests, the Hanseatic League gradually became a powerful trading federation which gave its members privileged access to new markets. In the 14th century the main trading routes shifted to the sea, and so the Westphalians were relegated to the edge of Hanseatic trading. Many Westphalian towns, however, retained their links until the virtual collapse of the Hanseatic League in 1669.

A good 300 years later, some of the former Hanseatic towns in Westphalia have revived the ancient federation. On the 25th June 1983 20 of them signed the formation charter of the Westphalian Hanseatic Alliance and chose the ancient and free Hansa town of Herford as its seat. The Westphalian Hanseatic Alliance currently has 47 members. Based on cross-border Hanseatic principles, a close association developed between the town and the federation of towns known as DIE HANSE.

Since 2016 the Westphalian Hanseatic Alliance has undergone re-organisation to become innovative, modern and future-oriented. This has as its focus the awakening of new interest in getting to know the towns better. The annual Westphalian “Hansetag” provides an excellent opportunity to do just that.

The member towns of this new alliance are keen to bring people closer so that the old Hanseatic idea might contribute once again to increase the attractiveness of a town and enhance its appeal as one would expect of a modern Hanseatic town.

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