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Schönebeck (Elbe) is situated at an elevation of 51 m on the river Elbe, about 15 km southeast of Saxony-Anhalt's capital, Magdeburg. The municipality of Schönebeck has a population of about 32,400 (2011). The municipality consists of the following parts: Bad Salzelmen, Elbenau, Felgeleben, Frohse, Grünewalde, Plötzky, Pretzien, Ranies, Schönebeck and Sachsenland.
Frohse was first mentioned in AD 936, Elmen waa first mentioned in 1170 and Schönebeck (Sconebeke) in 1223. The "Groß Salzer Willkür", a kind of municipal law, was issued in 1470, followed by the "Schönebecker Willkür" in 1490. In 1680 Groß Salze, Frohse and Schönebeck became part of the Duchy of Magdeburg, which was part of Brandenburg-Prussia. The municipality of Alt Salze (Elmen) was incorporated into Groß Salze in 1894. The new municipality at first retained the name Groß Salze, but in 1926 was renamed Bad Salzelmen. In 1932 Bad Salzelmen, Frohse and Schönebeck were merged into the new municipality of Schönebeck–Bad Salzelmen, but shortly thereafter was renamed Schönebeck (Elbe). Until 1946 Schönebeck was part of the district Calbe (Saale); for the following 4 years it was a city independent from a district, but in 1950 became part, and the seat of, the administration of the new district Schönebeck. The town district Bad Salzelmen was officially recognised as a spa place in 2005. The district Schönebeck was dissolved in 2007 and was merged with the districts Bernburg and Aschersleben-Staßfurt to become the new district Salzlandkreis, with the district seat in Bernburg (Saale). Plötzky, Pretzien and Ranies were incorporated into Schönebeck in 2009.
Bad Salzelmen was created in 1894 by merging the former independent municipalities of Groß Salze and Elmen; this combined municipality was also named Groß Salze. In 1926 it was renamed Bad Salzelmen. In 1932, Bad Salzelmen became part of Schönebeck Elbe).
Brine had already been extracted in Elmen as early as in the 12th century. GroßSalze became part of the Brandenburg-Prussian Duchy of Magdeburg in 1680. The thorn house (a construction to concentrate the brine was constructed in 1756–1765 is the largest of its kind ever built (total length 1,837 metres). The saline also was the largest state-owned company in Prussia. The tradition as a spa began in 1802 when the first brine spa was opened. Brine extraction for the production of salt was discontinued in 1967, but it is still in use for therapetic purposes. of the original thorn house, today only 300 metres subsist.
The Erlenbad ('Alder Tree Bath') [left] in Elmen (Bad Salzelmen)
was built in 1840–1841 in Classical style. It was the first indoor saline swimming bath.
The building was demolished in 1999.