You could call the Salzhof – or Salt Yard – the heart of Salzuflen. Documents allow us to trace the town’s history back as far as a salt works here in the mid 11th century. The settlement and its salt works are first mentioned in a deed drawn up between 1036 and 1051 which mentions a salt mine in Uflen (locum salis in Uflon) being given to Abdinghof Abbey by Bishop Rotho of Paderborn.
Salzuflen adopted a council constitution early on, with records dating back to 1322. There is evidence of a council seal showing a (salt) well and a star (a reference to the former lord, Count von Sternberg) as far back as 1375. The salt trade flourished for centuries until the fruits of this labour were largely destroyed in June 1447 during the Soest Feud, when Bohemian mercenaries hired by the Archbishop of Cologne swept through the area around Lippe, pillaging as they went, on their way to Soest. Salzuflen did not go unscathed. As they had been warned in time, the residents took refuge in surrounding woodland, salvaging their money and valuable possessions. This meant that the damage to the salt works could be repaired quickly and new homes could be built. Some of these were constructed on oak stilts or stone bases close to the salt-boiling huts in the Salzetal valley – an area which had largely been avoided previously because the land was difficult to build on and at risk of flooding. In 1450, work began to build a wall with four gates and three fortified towers encircling the whole settlement, including Hallenbrink. Salzuflen was subsequently granted town status by the local ruler, Lord Bernhard VII, on 28 May 1488. The lords, counts and princes of Lippe ruled the town between 1400 and 1919.
From 1918 to 1947 (when Lippe became part of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia), Bad Salzuflen belonged to the Free State of Lippe. Salzuflen’s history as a spa town also began here at the Salzhof in 1818. Initially known as the Fürstlich-Lippisches Solbad or royal Lippe saltwater baths, it then became a state-owned spa managed by the local authority and the Landesverband Lippe association. Since 1 April 2003, the spa has been owned by the town of Bad Salzuflen and operated under the company name Staatsbad Salzuflen GmbH.
All that remains today to remind those familiar with the town’s heritage of the Salzhof’s former salt-boiling pans and baths is the Paulinenquelle spring and the salt-maker’s monument a few metres away (see stop 20).
The Paulinenquelle spring and all the other salt-water springs in Salzuflen (including three thermal springs and three drinking fountains) are fed by a Zechstein (Upper Permian) formation approximately 1,300 metres underground. Nowadays, the springs are only used for the spa and baths.
The well monument (see stop 20) was built to cover the Paulinenquelle spring in 1934 – replacing a wooden tower which stood over the 63-metre-deep borehole and well shaft (in the upper quarter) – 132 years after the spring was tapped.
It is just 12 metres away from the old Hauptsoot – the original saltwater spring – which was then filled in. This spring had threatened to dry up once before, back in 1515. Records tell us that, back then, the prayers of the whole community of Salzuflen and a new wooden frame for the well’s foundations averted the danger. To express their gratitude, the council introduced a day of prayer for the salt works, which is still observed regularly today. The middle of the five reliefs on the monument over the saltwater spring – which was named after Princess Pauline of Lippe – depicts this event. During the regency of this very progressive and socially minded woman (1802–1820), a saltwater bathing facility (with five baths) was set up in a pumping tower at the Salzhof at the suggestion of a local doctor, Dr Heinrich Hasse. It opened on 14 July 1818 as a small-scale secondary enterprise run by the Royal Lippe salt works. Dr Hasse is considered the founder of the spa.
Lippe’s ruling family, who lived in Detmold, had purchased the Salzuflen salt works on 17 May 1766 and subsequently modernised it thoroughly. It had been operated on a cooperative basis under municipal supervision until then but had become unprofitable for Lippe, despite its salt monopoly, and was on the verge of ruin. The situation had been exacerbated by the Seven Years War (1756–1763), which had taken a heavy toll on Salzuflen by imposing contributions, billeting and all sorts of other injustices. Despite considerable investments, the salt works would never become a gold mine again. The future was brighter for the little saltwater baths, however, which gained its first bathhouse in 1856 after a fire the previous year destroyed the pumping tower and the five bathing cubicles it then contained. This first bathhouse (Bathhouse I) was on the edge of the Salzhof, not far from the salt works.