In medieval times the town was remarkably rich due to the salt trade. There were several salines surrounding the town. The salt was exported to the neighbouring fiefs. Along the Old Salt Route it was transported via Lauenburg to Lübeck and from there shipped to all the Baltic coasts. Lüneburg and its salt were major factors of power and wealth of the Hanseatic League.
Lüneburg was first mentioned in 956. After a long time of prosperity its importance declined after 1600. The saline was closed in 1980, and the mining of salt was eventually stopped after a thousand years. The town gained new relevance by its university, which was founded in 1989.