The Lübecker Salzspeicher are six historical building, wholly made of brick, that used to function as salt storehouses from 1579 on. Salt was mined around Lüneburg and brought to Lübeck over the Stecknitz Canal. From there it was shipped around the Baltic region. This trade was one of the reasons why Lübeck was so influential in the Hanseatic League.
The first thing that crosses my mind when I think about Lübeck are these buildings. I don’t remember how I learned about them, but I know it had something to do with the movie Nosferatu, the one from 1922, directed by F. W. Murnau. Since I moved to Berlin, I wanted to find an excuse to go to Lübeck, and I found one in the November 2018. Then I spent a couple of days walking around the city with a friend and a camera, taking pictures of everything I found interesting. And, of course, one of these places was the Lübecker Salzspeicher.
The History of Lübecker Salzspeicher
Salt was always an essential part of the trade in Lübeck, and it seems like, as early as the 1200s, there have been salt storage houses in the left bank of the Trave river. Salt is what made Lübeck powerful in the Hanseatic League, and they had to store it somewhere before it was placed into ships and sold around the Baltic Sea.
The salt from Lüneburg, another Hanseatic town located between Hamburg and Lübeck, came to town with carts over the Old Salt Road and the Stecknitz Canal. Then the salt was stored and, later, shipped all around Scandinavia where it was used to preserve fish and enable herring trade. Salt was mainly needed in Norway and the Scania region in Sweden. From there it allowed herring trade inland, and it was the primary source of wealth to Lübeck for a long time.
Through time, salt became less important for the city, and the buildings were used to store different products. From cloth to grain and wood, a lot went through these buildings. During the Third Reich, one of them was even used as a Hitler Youth center. Nowadays, the structures are used by clothing shops, and it seems like they have been there since the Second World War.
Lübecker Salzspeicher and Nosferatu
I first learned about the Lübecker Salzspeicher due to the movie Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, directed by F. W. Murnau and released, in Germany, in March 1922. The movie is an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and some of the outdoor scenes were filmed in Lübeck.
In the movie, the vampire is called Count Orlok, and he lives in the abandoned Salzspeicher in Lübeck. More scenes were filmed in the city like the churchyard from the Aegidienkirche and a procession of coffin bearers at Depenau Strasse. But nothing was more memorable to me than the scene where Count Orlok looks outside, from a window on the Lübecker Salzspeicher. I even had to find this window in the building today, and I wasn’t happy to see that it’s hidden behind some promotional material for clothes next to the women’s changing room.
Too bad it’s hidden but, at least, I managed to go there. And see where one of the leading German Expressionist movies was filmed, almost a century ago.
Finding the Lübecker Salzspeicher is really simple. If you arrive in Lübeck by train, you will have to enter the city via the Holstentor, the west city gate. After the city gate, you will see the salt storage buildings on your right side and the Holstenbrücke in front of you.
This bridge is the historical connection, from the Middle Ages, between the seaport and the inland port in the city. Also, it’s the oldest fixed bridge over the Trave River.
Wallstraße 1, 23560
Lübeck – Germany
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