Man, I’m beat! A day of sunshine, more than 10,000 steps and lots of impressions is behind me. We used the holiday for a day trip which felt like a small city break vacation. It was such a nice day. The Corona regulations have been lifted a little so we could enter Lower Saxony and go to…Lüneburg! I’ve been wanting to go to this 73,000-people-town for years because it is close to Hamburg and anyone will tell you, “Lüneburg? It’s beautiful! You have to go!”
And what can I say? Lüneburg did not disappoint. I constantly had to get out my phone to take more picture because every corner of the Old Town is so picturesque. The only sad part was that Lüneburg’s tourist info homepage stated there would be a guided tour at 2 p.m. and when we got there, we found a notice saying there are no tours until May 25 due to Corona. I mean, that’s understandable but why would you not update your homepage (if you bothered to update that “tourists are allowed back into the city”?) Oh well! Google came to the rescue and we guided ourselves around the town.
Many sights were closed but luckily the German Salt Museum was not. Why is there a Salt Museum, you wonder? Because Lüneburg was Salt City! Salt is the “white gold” that made Lüneburg rich (as you still can see when you look at the beautiful houses) in the Middle Ages. It was the salt town of the North, exporting to Scandinavia and all of Germany. For more than 1000 years, Lüneburgers worked in the salt mines before it was closed down in the 1980s. The salt mine never closed except for one day a year, Good Friday. Imagine that – what other business has been up and running for a millenium?! The museum was very interesting, especially for someone like me who did not pay enough attention in chemistry. There are also so many customs and ideas around salt, just think of the Bible (“Salt of the Earth”) or how Germans give salt and bread as a housewarming gift. I mean, it makes sense: no salt, no life. We also learned the legend of how Lüneburg inhabitants found out they had a salina: Hunters observed a wild sow that was white. They brought it down and checked its skin to find out why it was white: there was salt on its body and close to where they found the animal was the first saline pool discovered.
Before we left lovely Lüneburg in the evening, we took a little detour to the university campus. My friend Ingrid spent one semester studying in Lüneburg and when I told her we were going there, she suggested we take a look at the newly built central building of the Leuphana University. (This fancy name was adopted only 13 years ago and stems from a small village mentioned in a map from the second century A.D.. Seems though like that village is not today’s Lüneburg, but rather the less famous town of Hitzacker. A renowed ad agency suggested that name…) Ingrid’s tip turned out to be really great: the architecture of that building is stunning! I couldn’t come up with any other university building (of modern times) that had such an extravagant edifice. No one less than Daniel Libeskind himself designed the Leuphana central building (where do they get the money from?! Salt doesn’t sell that well anymore?)
If you’re ever looking for a destination for a day out that’s both a feast for the eyes and historically super interesting – go to Lüneburg!