The Hansa

What started as a network between German merchants developed into an impressive league of cities that for several centuries kept power and control over trade and markets related to the Baltic Sea.


The treaty between Duke Henry the Lion of Saxony and Bavaria and the "Coast of Gotland" in 1161 might be regarded as the birth of the Hansa. Via Gotland the mercantile route to Novgorod was subsequent developed. East met West. Central and Western Europe obtained luxurious merchandise from Eastern and Northern Europe thanks to the Hanseatic trade.

The Hansa is now a unique network of cities. It is a medieval network that revived in 1980. The Hansa could be seen as a medieval forerunner to the European Union. Today's network consists of 178 member cities in 16 countries, you find them all at To explore them, make your choice per country or per region. Quite a few are also listed by UNESCO as World Heritage. Many are related to the pilgrimage route to Santiago. And all of them offer interesting facts from a common European past.

The new Hansa is the largest voluntary association of towns and cities in the world. The members comprise not only the Hanseatic towns and cities themselves, but also some of the former large depots such as Novgorod in north-west Russia, as well as some of the smaller trading posts.