Hanseatic Year – Cross-Border Identity?

Our 2015 started with Hanseatic flare and it seems that Hansa will remain the main thread of the year. Having visited the cities like Gdansk in Poland, Lübeck and Hamburg in Germany, and Copenhagen in Denmark for the first time, I am genuinely puzzled by the notion of Hansa. I attempted to read some of not that many lay pieces on Hanseatic culture and history with the aim to learn a bit more, but I have to admit that my knowledge did not substantially improve. Widely available information identifies that Hanseatic League existed from 13th through 17th century stretching from Baltic to the North Sea and more inland. It used to connect various merchants and trade fairs into a loose association for the common economic benefit. I have not found what Copenhagen’s connection to the League was, but to my eyes architecture of Gdansk and Copenhagen is so similar that I assume that both cities were heavily influenced by similar architectural schools. So, was Hanseatic League only a loose association for the common economic good, or was its something more? Does the Hanseatic culture or identity exist? The Hanseatic League could probably be seen as the forerunner of the European Economic Community and the European Union nowadays. In bitterly cold and windy January, when we stepped out of the train from Berlin, Gdansk seemed novel and intriguing.  It did not remind us of any other city that we have previously visited; ok, maybe it ghostly resembled some cute Belgian and Dutch towns along the shore, but it definitely had a unique fling. We were stunned by the Hanseatic architecture, by its picturesque elements and its grandiose forms. Today, I believe that the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region could foster development or re-birth of affluent cultural and urban heritage, landscapes, seascapes and cultural landmarks across the region.