Top 10 attractions in Lüneburg
With its more than 1,000 monuments, there is something to see on practically every street corner in Lüneburg: from the historic town hall, which fuses several epochs of architecture within its walls, to the idyllic Alter Hafen (Old Harbour) of the salt town, to the significant churches and museums. The Am Sande square, which is the oldest square and also the town’s centre, is lined with the historical patrician houses typical of Lüneburg. The romantic harbour in the historic Wasserviertel (Waterside District) abounds with architectural and epicurean delights. Today, the establishments in Lüneburg’s prettiest pub district are housed in these old gabled houses.
1. Town Hall
The oldest sections of the town hall date back to around 1230. It was subsequently extended through the centuries, according to the needs at the time. The complex of separate buildings with Gothic and Renaissance features bears witness to the various epochs. Superb woodwork adorns the large Ratsstube (council chamber), which is one of the largest Renaissance halls in Germany. The Huldigungssaal (assembly chamber) and the market facade date back to the baroque period. The tower houses a clockwork mechanism with a carillon made of Meissen porcelain. Although, the town hall is still the administrative seat of the town of Lüneburg today, the most beautiful rooms are open for visitors.
2. St. Nicolai
St Nicolai is the most recent and smallest of the three Gothic churches in Lüneburg. Situated in the Wasserviertel (Waterside District), it was once the church for mariners, as the area was mostly populated by the river boatmen and craftsmen who made a living from merchant shipping. The nave of the basilica is twice as high as the aisles, indeed higher than its total length. The interior of St Nicolai in Lüneburg has retained its beautiful medieval charm and features significant treasures of Gothic painting and carving artistry.
3. Warehouse and Old Crane
The wooden, copper-clad ‘Alter Kran’ (Old Crane) on the Ilmenau river is mentioned in a document as early as 1346. In the Middle Ages, it was used to hoist and lower salt and other goods on ships. Two wooden treadmills within the crane were turned by humans, generally convicts, to power the hoisting mechanism in the Middle Ages. A locomotive for the Braunschweig to Vienenburg train, which was transported from England to Lüneburg by ship, was one of the last loads in the harbour to be lifted by the Old Crane in the 19th century. Today, the crane can be visited on a town tour.
4. Broemse House
The Brömsehaus, one of the oldest buildings in Lüneburg, was built between 1406 and 1426. The merchant’s house is named after its owner, the Sülfmeister (master salter) Dietrich von Brömse. Structural changes made through the centuries have distanced the house from its Gothic origins.
Today, the facade bears the coats of arms of the Hanseatic cities of Riga, Lübeck, Lüneburg and Gdańsk, and that of the Brömse family. Its courtyard giving on to Conventstrasse has remained almost unchanged over the centuries. It is a richly decorated house with a three-floor gable built with ornamental bricks.
5. St Johannis
The Church of John the Baptist is not only one of the oldest brick buildings in Lüneburg; it was also designated a baptistery in 927, making it one of the oldest in Lower Saxony. This is where Johann Sebastian Bach was taught to play the organ and compose by his uncle Georg Böhm, who was cantor and composer at the Church of John the Baptist in Lüneburg from 1698 to 1733. The five-aisled hall church has an almost square layout and once comprised 39 altars. It served as a model for many hall churches in northern Germany, including those in Stendal, Brandenburg, Hanover and Tangermünde.
6. Water Tower
Originally intended to compete with the Abtswasserkunst (Abbot’s Waterworks), the Ratswasserkunst (Council Waterworks) was mainly used to supply fresh water to the salt works, transporting the precious water by means of a complicated wooden pump system. Right next to it is the neo-Gothic Lüneburg Water Tower, opened in 1907. Its viewing terrace at a height of 56 m affords visitors incomparable views of Lüneburg and its surroundings. In good weather, visibility can be up to 40 km and you can see as far back as Hamburg and Uelzen.
Today, the tower serves as a venue for weddings and other celebrations, cultural events, temporary exhibitions, environmental education projects and much more. Previously, at the beginning of last century, it was crucial for Lüneburg’s modern drinking water supply.
7. Chamber of Industry and Commerce
Today, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce is situated opposite the Church of John the Baptist, on the west side of the Am Sande square. The Renaissance building was erected in 1548 and has a decorative double gable and dark grey bricks. It has fulfilled various functions throughout its 400-year existence. It served Lüneburg as a brewery, restaurant, shop and state bank before being put to service as the Chamber of Industry and Commerce after the Second World War.
8. St Michaelis
St Michaelis is a church that dates back to 1376, when the foundation stone for the three-aisle St Michaelis’ Hall Church was laid. The construction took 40 years altogether. The present-day St Michaelis was erected on the foundations of the Benedictine monastery that Margrave Hermann Billung had built on the nearby Kalkberg in 950, which was destroyed in the course of the War of the Lüneburg Succession in 1371. The remains of the monastery—the interior of the chapter house—can be seen from the outside on the choir side. It was excavated in 1978 and was once used for readings and court hearings. The interior of St Michaelis was completely remodelled rather modestly in the 18th and 19th centuries. One of its treasures, the altarpiece named the Golden Altar, fell victim to the notorious church robber Nickel List in 1698.
9. German Salt Museum
Lüneburg is the northern salt town. Until the end of the 16th century, the Lüneburg salt works was not only the greatest salt producer in northern Europe; it was also the oldest and largest European industrial enterprise of the time. This gave the town outstanding economic and political standing in northern Germany. Lüneburg also occupied a leading position in the confederation of Hanseatic cities. The salt works shut down in 1980. Since then the Deutsche Salzmuseum / Industriedenkmal Saline (German Salt Museum) serves as a reminder of its glorious past.
10. Museum Lüneburg
Anything that helps explain the interaction between man and nature, from the earliest archaeological traces to contemporary art, zoological and botanical objects and evidence of Lüneburg’s material culture, can be found here. The around 1,300 exhibits, some of which are unique to Lüneburg, tell the history of the town and region, from the Palaeozoic to the 20th century. But the exhibition focuses on the 15th and 16th centuries, Lüneburg’s heyday.