Schlei region

From Viking settlement to trading center

The history of the city of Schleswig begins in the broadest sense on the other side of the Schlei: at Haddebyer Noor. There stands the settlement place, which is first mentioned in 804 under the name “Sliasthorp” in the Frankish imperial annals. Other sources speak of “Hedeby” at the same time. Both names mean the same place – today’s Haithabu.

In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Viking settlement developed into the most important trading center in northern Europe, which was destroyed by West Slavic forces in 1066. During this unrest, a few survivors fled to the northern shore, the present-day site of the city of Schleswig, where people were probably already settling. Here, people initially continued to try their hand at trade, but up-and-coming cities such as Lübeck outstripped Schleswig. Schleswig’s heyday as a central trading town ended in the 13th century, but it remained an important political center for the dukes of Schleswig thereafter.

From a trading center to the city of Schleswig

In 1200, Schleswig was granted city rights and in 1218, with the coronation of the king’s son Waldemar, experienced the peak of Danish power in the Middle Ages. In addition, Schleswig with its cathedral and cathedral chapter formed the spiritual center of the diocese of Schleswig.

In the area of today’s Lollfuß, there was a small settlement of a few buildings along the connecting road between Schleswig and Gottorf in the 16th century. Under the influence of the castle, the settlement increased in the following period. Mainly servants, craftsmen and artists of the court were at home here, while primarily higher officials settled in today’s Schleswig Old Town and in Friedrichsberg.

Friedrichsberg developed into a larger settlement at the same time as Lollfuß in the vicinity of Gottorf Castle, to which the first noble families also moved. Otherwise, the village initially consisted mainly of economic facilities of the court. A decisive impulse for the development of the settlement was the construction of the Gottorf Dam under Duke Adolf in 1582, which connected Friedrichsberg with Lollfuß on the northern bank of the Schlei. In 1650 the settlement received its present name Friedrichsberg.

In 1711 the independent settlements of Schleswig Old Town, Lollfuß and Friedrichsberg became a “combined town”. They have preserved their own character until today. After the Great Northern War (1700-1721) and the associated victory of Denmark over the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf, the Gottorf portions of the Duchy of Schleswig fell to the Danish king, who was also Duke of Schleswig.

From 1840, the German-Danish conflict became the dominant issue in the town, whose citizens predominantly sided with the German Schleswig-Holsteiners. Among other things, the Schleswig-Holstein-Lied was created in Schleswig. At the same time, the first blue-white-red (Schleswig-Holstein’s colors) banner was displayed.

From Danish to Prussian rule

In 1851 the war against Danish rule is lost, but in 1864 Prussia wins the war against Denmark with Austria on its side. Schleswig becomes the seat of government and administrative capital of the new Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. It was not until 1935 that Holm, until then an island in the Schlei, was connected to the city of Schleswig. In 1946, Kiel becomes the state capital, and as compensation Schleswig receives the seat of jurisdiction with the Higher Regional Court.


Our partner the Ostseefjord Schlei GmbH offers a variety of different accommodation options in Schleswig and the surrounding area. From all-inclusive hotels to comfortably furnished private vacation homes, the portfolio offers a wide range of choices. Just click on the following link to be redirected to the OfS booking portal.