A piece of Hamburg's history: Old Elbe Tunnel

Hey guys,

today I want to show you a place in Hamburg that has a lot of history with it and that fascinated me a lot during my visit. It was a one-day city trip from Rostock to Hamburg. Mainly, we visited at the Old Elbe Tunnel that day. There was actually much more to see than expected.

But what exactly is the Old Elbe Tunnel? The tunnel connects the Landing Bridges with the harbour area in Steinwerder. Every day, lots of cyclists and pedestrians pass through the tunnel, at any time and free of charge.


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I was fascinated by the idea of walking under the Elbe. Also, the old Elbe tunnel is rather an unknown sight, at least you don't immediately think of the tunnel when you think of Hamburg.
The entrance to the tunnel is directly at the Landing Bridges. The best thing to do is to look out for a domed building. You can get down to the tunnel via cages or stairs.

The destination: Elbe island Steinwerder

The tunnel lies 24 metres below the earth's surface. It takes you to Steinwerder Island on the opposite side of the Elbe. This is mainly a place for people who find the Elbe beach too crowded. And on the Elbe island you have a beach that is at least as beautiful. In addition, there is a super-beautiful panorama of the edge of the harbour, where you can also see the Elbphilarmonie. But I'll tell you more about the island another time.

The Elbe Tunnel was opened in 1911. At the time, it was the first tunnel under a river in the whole of Europe and thus also a sensation in terms of construction technology.
Today it is not only an attractive sight for many tourists, but is also used by many locals as a transport route to cross the Elbe within the city. However, you will only find cyclists and pedestrians here.




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Stoneware reliefs as a symbol for the Elbe

The Elbe Tunnel has been a listed building since 2003.
But why was the Elbe Tunnel built ? It was done so that a longer-lasting crossing of the Elbe would be possible. The port of Hamburg was getting bigger and bigger at the time of the 19th century and a solution had to be found.
As a result of the growth, the port also shifted more and more to the opposite side because there simply wasn't enough space. This connected the working-class district of St. Pauli with the industrial port area on Steinwerder. It was also intended to make it easier for the thousands of workers at the time to cross the Elbe. At that time the Old Elbe Tunnel was still called the "St. Pauli Elbe Tunnel" (in the meantime there is also a New Elbe Tunnel). The motto was: "Underneath! Short and crisp, just like the North Germans.

The walls of the two tunnel tubes are tiled. On them are small stoneware reliefs at regular intervals, mostly showing fish. These are supposed to represent the Elbe lying above the tunnel. In addition, there are crabs, shells, but also rats and discarded objects.

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The four lift cages, which seem very massive today, were not only intended to transport people: They were mainly intended for horse-drawn vehicles.
This explains why they are capable of transporting between five and ten tonnes. This is also why the Elbe Tunnel is a full 4.50 m high: so that horse-drawn vehicles could pass through.

You can also pass through the tunnel by car. However, it is less designed for cars and, in addition, you should check your watch before entering the tunnel. The tunnel is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. from St. Pauli to Steinwerder and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Steinwerder to St. Pauli. At other times, and especially at weekends, only pedestrians and cyclists are allowed to use the Old Elbe Tunnel.

If you don't use the stairs or the lift to get down to the ELbtunnel, but want to enjoy the view of the green dome, you just have to take the stairs, for example. Once at the top, you can look through round windows and have a great view of one of Hamburg's most beautiful sights, the Elbphilarmonie.

What did you think of the story about the Elbe Tunnel? Feel free to write your feedback in the comments. See you next time!

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