In many countries, brick Gothic style is closely associated with the Hanseatic era. For three centuries, life and commerce in the Baltic region – the focus of medieval European trade – was dominated by the Hanseatic League. The Vikings, Teutonic knights and later, the Reformation, also left their mark on the region. Monuments from this era, when the towns and cities along the Baltic coast were at their most prosperous and powerful, still remain today in the form of abbeys, town halls, city gates, ramparts and imposing churches and cathedrals. They are historical symbols of the spiritual and secular strength of the Middle Ages, whose architecture is still very characteristic of towns and cities in this part of the world. Every one of the distinctive red bricks used in this style of architecture was made and laid by hand, and all of the skilfully constructed buildings along this route are unique structures with their own story to tell. Richly decorated façades and towering spires are unmissable landmarks and were also originally used by seafarers as guides for navigating. Exploring the region's stunning coastline and beautiful surrounding countryside by bike, car or on foot, and seeing how this brick Gothic architecture forms an integral part of the visual narrative, is a fascinating experience. And there's no need to sacrifice any of life's little pleasures either.