The Old Salt Road: from Lüneburg to Lübeck on the 'white gold' trading route

The Old Salt Road was one of the most important trading routes running for some 100km between the Hanseatic towns of Lüneburg – where the salt was extracted – and Lübeck, where it was used by fishermen to preserve their catches, as well as being shipped onwards across the Baltic to Scandinavia.

Although now nothing more than an everyday item, mineral salt was hugely important – and expensive – in the Middle Ages, earning itself the soubriquet 'white gold', and often being transported over vast distances to keep the whole region supplied with this precious commodity. The wealth of the towns trading and transporting salt was founded on it – either through producing it (Lüneburg), trading it (Lübeck) or by taxing the traders who travelled on the route (Mölln). The historical transport route runs from Lüneburg to Lauenburg, where it crosses the river Elbe and then follows the Elbe-Lübeck canal all the way to Lübeck. The Old Salt Road travels through magnificent scenery, dotted with sleepy villages, stone churches, and the resting places of former travellers on the Stecknitz canal. Amateur historians interested in the salt trade's long history and seeking traces of its heyday have a large choice of places to visit, including the German Salt Museum in Lüneburg, the shipping town and region of Lauenburg, and Mölln, which is associated with medieval prankster Till Eulenspiegel. Lübeck remains a gateway to the Baltic to this day; the Salt Road, which passed through the town, brought it riches and power. The Holsten Gate and the Lüneburg salt storehouses are powerful reminders of Lübeck's past glory.

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