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The Hanseatic City of Lüneburg

©(c) Lueneburger Heide GmbH
©von dem Bruch/Lüneburger Heide GmbH

The Hanseatic City of Lüneburg lies 50 km to the south east of Hamburg in the north of the Lüneburg Heath. The River Ilmenau flows through Lüneburg and later joins the Elbe.

The history of Lüneburg has many highlights. There are traces of human settlement from as far back as the time of the Neandertals. Lüneburg was first mentioned in records in the year 956 in a document of King Otto I regarding the Kloster Lüne convent.

The town of Lüneburg was not destroyed in the Second World War, which means it has one of the most beautiful old town quarters in Germany. The typical gables of the “brick Gothic” style, the many tourist sites and anecdotes make it very attractive for tourists. The history of the town can be viewed particularly clearly in the Museum for the Fürstentum [Principality] of Lüneburg.

Lüneburg has become well known throughout Germany due to the daily ARD television series Rote Rosen [Red Roses], which is filmed on an almost daily basis in the town and a hotel. If you are lucky, you can watch them filming outdoors.                                                  

The wealth of the town of Lüneburg is based on salt. A large part of the town is undermined by a salt dome on which the town’s monopoly as supplier of salt to the Hanseatic League was founded. Lüneburg was a very early and very rich member of the League. The wealth is particularly visible on the buildings of the town. In the Salt Museum you can learn the entire history behind this.

The Sülfmeister (Master Saltboilers), who today are elected annually at a major event, were the rulers of the town back then. As a result of the town’s wealth, Lüneburg Town Council was able to purchase comprehensive rights for the town. This means that the church buildings in Lüneburg are, and have been, the property of the town, and not of the Church, up to the present day.

As a reminder of the salt mining, a salt saw bone still hangs today in the old chancery of Lüneburg Town Hall. The story goes that a hunter was hunting a sow whose coat was covered in salt crystals. This is how the salt came to be found in the ground and it was extracted using the boiling process.

Besides the wealth it brought, salt has also given the town problems. Today the ground is sinking dramatically in the so-called subsidence area area of the town over the salt dome and several buildings have already been destroyed.

As well as a fabulous shopping experience, there is much to see in Lüneburg. Kloster Lüne, a convent still in use today, preceded the town and helped give rise to it.

The other attractions in Lüneburg are also well worth a visit.

In the historic Wasserviertel (Water Quarter), where the salt was loaded onto barges in days gone by, there are numerous restaurants and bars. As a university town, Lüneburg is today the town with the second highest bar density in Europe. At the Stintmarkt in the Water Quarter you can see the old crane which was used for loading the barges.

Lüneburg Town Hall is one of the biggest in Northern Germany and actually consists of several buildings along the entire street. On a guided tour of the town hall you will hear incredible stories of the doings of councillors. No tourist should miss this.

Next to the Town Hall is the Heinrich Heine House, in which the poet’s parents lived from 1822 until 1826. Heine wrote several of his poems here.

The schwangere Haus [pregnant house] in Waagestrasse resulted from badly fired plaster, which then absorbed water over the course of time and expanded. It is however apocryphal that couples desperate for a baby come here and touch the wall of the house.

Pisa is not the only one with a leaning tower, Lüneburg has one too because the church tower of the St. Johannis church is 2.2 metres off the perpendicular. However, the church is not only famous for its leaning tower but also because the famous Johann Sebastian Bach learned to play the organ and to compose here.


The Am Sande square next to the church was quite aptly named: it was sandy. This is where merchants drew up their horse-drawn carts and sold their wares. All around the square you can see particularly splendid gabled houses.

Lüneburg water tower, with its 56 metre high panoramic terrace, gives you a fabulous view over the town. In the weeks of advent it looks particularly splendid as Germany’s highest advent wreath is installed there. By sending a text message you can get the lights turned on whilst at the same time supporting a project to help children.

Lüneburg is well known today due to the ARD television series Rote Rosen, which has now become a significant factor in attracting tourism to Lüneburg

In addition to an attractive town with many attractions, tourists also find many events taking places in Lüneburg. As well as the famous town festival, the Sülfmeistertage (Master Saltboiler Days) in particular are worth experiencing. You can find a summary of all events here.