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Lauenburg (district)

Area:1263 km²
Inhabitants:182,600 (2002)
pop. density:145 inh./km²
Car identification:RZ

Lauenburg (in full Herzogtum Lauenburg, ="duchy of Lauenburg") is a district in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is bounded by (from the west and clockwise) the district of Stormarn, the city of Lübeck, the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (districts of Nordwestmecklenburg and Ludwigslust), the state of Lower Saxony (districts of Lüneburg and Harburg), and the city state of Hamburg.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geography
3 Coat of arms
4 Towns and municipalities
5 External links


The district calls itself "duchy of Lauenburg", since it goes back to the medieval duchy of Lauenburg, which was the last remnant of the first Saxon state. This duchy of Saxony had nothing but the name in common with the territory, which is today known as Saxony. It was divided in 1260 into the two partial states of Saxony-Wittenberg and Saxony-Lauenburg.

While Saxony-Wittenberg was soon to be erased from the maps, Saxony-Lauenburg existed for centuries, although it was soon known as Lauenburg (without "Saxony" mentioned in its name). The duchy of Lauenburg remained almost unchanged, until it lost its independency in 1689, when it was annexed by Hanover. In 1864 it fell to Prussia. For a short period Lauenburg was still an autonomous entity, but in 1876 it was incorporated as a district into the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein.

Lauenburg was the first capital of the district. In 1937 the city of Ratzeburg, which had formerly been a part of Mecklenburg, became a part of the district.


This area contains a number of historically important towns, e.g. Lauenburg, Mölln and Ratzeburg. This importance was due to the Old Salt Route (Alte Salzstraße), one of the major medieval trade routes. Salt from the salt-works south of the Elbe river was transported northward to Lübeck. The transport of salt was also the motive for constructing the oldest artificial waterway of Europe, the Stecknitz Canal (1398). It was replaced in 1900 by the Elbe-Lübeck Canal.

The landscape is characterized by numerous lakes, forming the Lauenburg Lakes Nature Park. The largest lake is the Ratzeburger See with an area of 16 km².

Coat of arms

The arms display a white horse, the ancient symbol of the duchy of Lauenburg. The horse is surrounded by a black and white checked border, which represents the colours of Prussia.

The coat of arms were granted on November 12, 1866, after Lauenburg became part of Prussia. After the duchy became a district the usage of the coat of arms was discontinued, as district were not allowed to use coat of arms. The coat of arms is always sometimes displayed with a crown on top.

Towns and municipalities

  1. Geesthacht
  2. Lauenburg
  3. Mölln
  4. Ratzeburg
  5. Schwarzenbek
  1. Aumühle-Wohltorf
  2. Berkenthin
  3. Breitenfelde
  4. Büchen
  5. Gudow-Sterley
  6. Hohe Elbgeest
  7. Lütau
  8. Nusse
  9. Ratzeburg-Land
  10. Sandesneben
  11. Schwarzenbek-Land
    Free municipalities
  1. Wentorf

External links

Official website (German)