They look like an early collection of condominiums next to a river, but their purpose was far different. Learn about this site’s long and important commercial role.
Located on the peaceful Trave River that runs through Lübeck are the Salt Storage Warehouses, or Salzspeicher, that mark an important historical period for the city. These tall Renaissance-style brick buildings all in a row were used for storing salt mined to the south and kept here awaiting shipment to other ports. Consider the importance of this mineral that fishermen and livestock farmers relied upon to keep their products from spoiling before refrigeration was common.
Walk to the buildings or take a boat tour that passes in front of the warehouses where ships would load the salt. Once you pass into the old part of the city through the renowned town gate, the Holstentor, you’ll find the warehouses nearby. The six buildings range in dates from 1579 to 1745. They may look a little eerie and in fact have been used as film locations for supernatural productions.
Lübeck was a principal city of the Hanseatic League, a powerful commercial organization that dominated northern Europe and was described as being the world’s first common market. Even though the original Hanseatic League disappeared after 400 years, a resurrected form of it exists today in this part of Europe. Imagine sailing ships filled with goods traveling up and down this river past Lübeck on their way to other ports.
The Hanseatic League named Lübeck its principal city because of its central location on trading routes between London and Novgorod, Russia. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the valued commodity of salt was mined slightly farther south in the town of Lüneburg, before being transported north to the warehouses. Learn about the nearby salt mining that was also an important factor in making Lübeck a prosperous town.
The warehouses are closed on Mondays but you can always view them from outside for their setting next to the river and their architectural interest. See many other historic buildings in Lübeck’s Old Town. Along with your visit to the Salt Storage Warehouses take a tour of the nearby Holstentor gate and museum. Walk here, as parking near the buildings can be difficult.