Travemünde dates back to 1187. From its earliest days, it was a fishing settlement coveted by its large neighbour, Lübeck. In 1226 the Hanseatic inhabitants secured essential rights in a letter of imperial immediacy from Frederick II. At this time Priwall also became part of Travemünde’s administrative jurisdiction. In 1329, Lübeck purchased the settlement and the whole tract of land at the mouth of the Trave for 1,060 Lübeck Marks, thus safeguarding its important harbour against burdensome tolls imposed by others. In 1913 the town of Travemünde was incorporated into the municipality of Lübeck and has been a district of the Hanseatic city ever since.
Since 1539, a lighthouse 39 metres high has guided ships towards Lübeck. Today, this is a museum with many exhibits reflecting the town’s long shipping history.
In 1802, Travemünde became the third location in Germany to be granted official status as a seaside resort. Tourism developed rapidly thereafter, and a casino continues to provide entertainment for prosperous north Germans on their visits to the Baltic. In 1803, seaside swimming facilities were built, and bathing machines and canopied beach chairs soon took over the coast. A museum devoted to the history and development of bathing culture was opened in the old town some years ago.
The early 1950s saw the rise of the town as a ferry port. Passenger ferry routes to Scandinavia were established first. In just 50 years, the Scandinavia Quay developed into the largest German Baltic port with scheduled routes to Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia. Today, thanks to the wharf in Travemünde, Lübeck is one of the largest ferry ports in Europe.