St.Pauli Landing Bridges
The St.Pauli Landungsbrücken are among the most popular photo motifs in Hamburg. No wonder, because here at the Landungsbrücken bundles much of what guests love about Hamburg: The harbor, the musical theaters, the ship connections to near and far, fish market, Reeperbahn and Hafenstraße very close by.
Landing bridges between the old Elbe tunnel and the Portuguese quarter
Origin of the Landing Bridges
The history of Hamburg as a port city goes back to the 9th century. However, the port only gained importance when Hamburg joined the Hanseatic League of Cities in 1321. Hamburg’s great advantage over the other Hanseatic cities, most of which were located on the Baltic Sea, was its access to the North Sea. In the following centuries, the city on the Elbe not only expanded its trade relations with European countries, but also established important trade routes overseas. The port was located at that time on the present site of the Warehouse district and Hafencity.
The steamships emerging in the 19th century had to moor in front of the actual port for safety reasons. Since they were powered by coal, one feared an encroachment of a possible fire breaking out on the sailing ships and the adjacent houses. In addition, a place was needed where the vast quantities of coal could be transported more easily. The first pier at the Landungsbrücken was built in 1839, and the current design with pontoons connected to the shore by movable bridges was inaugurated in 1907. These pontoons are also necessary because the Elbe is a tidal water. At low tide one goes down to the ships, at extreme high tide one may have to go uphill. In World War II, the entire port with the landing bridges was severely damaged.
The reconstruction took place essentially in the years 1953-1955.
In 1999, an extensive renovation of the entire facility.
Old Elbe Tunnel
A special experience awaits behind Bridge 10. Here lies the Old Elbe Tunnel, which connects the Landungsbrücken with the southern Elbe island of Steinwerder, the shipyards, and the port area.
In order to get the increasing traffic flows on the North Elbe under control, a permanent technical solution for crossing the Elbe had been considered since the end of the 19th century. The background to this was the enormous growth of the port of Hamburg. The ferry lines that had been in place since 1888 were unable to cope with the flow of workers that occurred at shift changes. In 1895, a total of 20,000 shipyard workers and 25,000 dockers were employed in the Port of Hamburg. These could now reach their workplaces more quickly and independently of the weather.
A decision was finally made in 1901, and Baurat Ludwig Wendemuth designed an Elbe tunnel with two parallel tubes, each 4.8 m in diameter.
When it opened in 1911, it was a technical sensation.
Four hydraulically operated elevators could bring vehicles to a depth of 24 meters to this day. Since 2019, the passage for cars is no longer possible. Pedestrians and cyclists are transported in the freight elevators and modern passenger elevators or they take the 132 steps of the two staircases that lead down into the Elbe tunnel. It is then 426.5 meters through the tiled tube of the historic tunnel to the other side of the Elbe. In the tunnel tubes you can see special tiles with motifs of fish, crabs, shells, but also of rats and discarded objects. On the other side of the Elbe, there is a magnificent view of the Landungsbrücken, the Michel and the Elbphilharmonie.
Till 2009, a tunnel marathon took place for 9 years. Since 2010 the tubes have been and are being renovated, this event no longer exists.
Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 en –
The Überseebrücke is a facility of the port with covered pedestrian bridge, which leads from the street Vorsetzen on a pontoon in the Hamburg Niederhafen.
The bridge was built in 1927 on behalf of the shipping company Hamburg Süd, at the time called Blockhausbrücke and served in particular as a landing stage for passenger ships to overseas. Later it was used by the England ferry and today by navy ships and historical sailors.
It was a nearly 119-meter-long steel arch construction and thus reached into the sea-ship-deep fairway, in front of the pontoons were additional vertäubalben (so-called Duckdalben, so piles, which are rammed into the stream) so that large ships could moor there. During the Second World War the bridge was destroyed. From 1957 to 1968 one built on the renewal of the bridge, first one hung provisionally catwalks into the carriers, afterwards one put the bridge together again with material existence from the port area.
Altogether the Überseebrücke consists of five parts: The head structure at the front end was inserted in 1968 as the last and newest part. It is a wood-paneled entrance that houses a kiosk on both the right and left sides. The south end, also from the pre-war period, was rammed by the Swedish naval vessel Marieholm in 1961 and had to be replaced by a new structure.
Finally, the assembled parts received a roof and side walls, with the east side open and the west side, on the other hand, closed with plexiglass panes to keep out the weather, as well as lighting.
From 2012 to 2015, the bridge was extensively renovated, in parallel with the redesign of the flood protection system at Vorsetzen.
Photo: By Emma7stern – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17862632
The Baumwall was part of the Hamburg city fortifications built from 1616 to 1625. He separated in the water the inland port located at the mouth of the Alster from the Norderelbe. Today a street of the same name lying transversely reminds of it.
Until 1852 the inland port was made impassable at night with tree trunks, hence the name.
The two guards of the port police, which was responsible for this protection, had to give way in 1911 to the construction of the Hamburg elevated railroad. There also the stop Baumwall was established. The stop of the elevated railroad served today by the U3 has a steel hall.
Other barriers were the Niederbaum above the Niederhafen and the Oberbaum at the Oberhafen outside the fortification. These secured the Wandrahm, a Fleet between the old town and the island of Grasbrook.
The Baumwall subway station – is a stop on the Hamburg subway line U3. It is located at Baumwall, and as part of the viaduct line at the port of Hamburg is a cultural monument of the city of Hamburg.
The station with side platforms is located in the immediate vicinity of the Warehouse district and the Elbphilharmonie. It is used by many tourists as access to the latter. Also the way to the Miniatur Wunderland starts here and is signposted from the stop. The stop is barrier-free with two glass elevators on the sides. In addition, there is a direct transition to the Portuguese Quarter, with a pedestrian bridge over the street Baumwall at the western exit of the station.
Photo: Gulp – German Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70769
To the underworld
On the height Baumwall is a small building, which people often walk past, it is a small, rather inconspicuous building, but with a historical background. It is a so-called Sieleinstiegs-Häuschen and belongs to the sewage system of the city of Hamburg.
The water supply in Hamburg was the first modern water supply and disposal on the European continent. Its creation was due to the Great Fire in the Old Town of Hamburg in 1842, which destroyed a third of the inner city. The completely inadequate supply of water for fire-fighting contributed significantly to the extent of the destruction. In the same year, therefore, the construction of an effective fire-fighting water supply system and an advanced water supply and sewerage system began step by step. The extensive construction work was completed in 1848. The original pipeline and pipe network grew continuously and is still partly in operation
The Sieleinstiegs-Häuschen was built in 1904 specifically for a visit by Kaiser Wilhelm II, to provide him with convenient access for the inspection of the Hamburg sewer system. It was not until 2012 that an associated underground dressing room was discovered during construction work, which was intended to be used by the emperor to put on protective clothing for the inspection of the sewer. The vault is located at a depth of three meters, has an area of about 6 m² and is decorated with glazed tiles. The public can visit the building annually on the “Open Monument Day”. Next to the cottage is the monument of William Lindley, who was responsible for the planning of the Hamburg sieve system around 1842.
Photo by Huhu Uet aka Frank Schwichtenberg – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30571371
Bunker as a restaurant
Below the elevated railway viaduct is a round tower on the street Vorsetzen, inside which a Portuguese innkeeper offers his food.
But few people know that this building is a relic from the Second World War, a round bunker.
This shelter, also called the Zombeck Tower after its designer, still stands in some parts of Hamburg.
A special feature of the Zombeck Towers is the spiral ramp around a cylindrical core inside the tower, which makes the internal structure of the towers resemble a snail shell. The gently rising ramp has no steps and serves both as an access point and a place to stay. Washrooms and restrooms are located in the cylinder core. This design allowed Zombeck towers to accommodate significantly more people in a limited amount of time compared to elevated bunkers with access via stairwells. Zombeck towers were primarily built at transportation hubs such as train stations and bridges, where they housed passengers seeking shelter from stopped trains during air alerts.
Zombeck towers are constructed of concrete, but usually have a clinker brick facade. The cone-shaped concrete roof, which is supposed to repel bombs, is also covered with roof tiles. This gave the population the feeling of a fortress and made them less conspicuous in the residential area during air raids. Particularly at prominent locations, factory stones were also used to surround doors; above the main entrance there was an imperial eagle with a swastika, still visible today as an empty space in a wreath at the Hamburg tower on Baumwall.
The Portuguese Quarter
Behind the Landungsbrücken and the harbor gate are the Ditmar-Koel-Straße and the Portuguese Quarter. Ditmar-Koel-Straße, named after a Hamburg mayor from the Renaissance period, is the main street of the Portuguese Quarter.
The presence of numerous “harbor pubs” therefore gave today’s Portuguese Quarter in the 1950s and 1960s also the name “The Coast”.
In the 1970s, the neighborhood became a focal point of Portuguese immigrants. The reason for this development were the comparatively low rents and the proximity to the port with the jobs offered there. This immigration also gave the neighborhood its current name. The immigration of Portuguese (but also Spanish) resulted in numerous Portuguese and Spanish restaurants, cafés and pastelarias. These businesses characterize the cultural center of several thousand immigrants from southwestern Europe.
In addition, it is home to the Nordic Seamen’s Churches located in Ditmar Koel Street: the Swedish Gustaf Adolfskyrkan, the Danish Benediktekirken, the Norwegian Sjömannskirken and the Finnish Hampurin merimieskirrko.
Especially in the pre-Christmas period, the 4 churches with their Christmas markets offer a special atmosphere. In addition to Scandinavian specialties, you can also find many typical Christmas items.
Today’s Portuguese Quarter was originally characterized by small businesses, dockworkers and companies in the shipping industry. If one looks from the location of the quarter once, then shipping and port have no more formative influence today.
Photo by Northside, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11875889
Subway railroad on stilts
The station Landungsbrücken is an important transport hub. It is a transfer station between the subway and S-Bahn, as well as bus and ferry connections…. The subway station is one of the oldest in Hamburg and is under monument protection.
From 1906, the first line of the subway Hamburg was built, which was also called elevated railroad, because it ran to a large extent above ground over bridge viaducts.
Therefore, real Hamburgers also do not drive subway but elevated railroad.
In a ring, it was led around the Hamburg city center. Near the name-giving Landungsbrücken a station with side platforms was built.
Thus also the port and shipyard workers could reach faster and more comfortably their work.
The station went first under the name Hafentor as the last section of the Hochbahn ring on 29 June 1912 in enterprise. In 1920, the station was renamed Landungsbrücken.
The Landungsbrücken S-Bahn station has been in operation since June 1, 1975 as a station of the S-Bahn and part of the tunnel route from the main station to Altona.
Hamburg’s most-used ferry is the HADAG Line 62.
The scenic route runs from Bridge 3 at Landungsbrücken down the Elbe River, stopping at many popular sights. Of course, a ferry cannot offer the same as a professionally escorted harbor tour, but a tour with line 62 is still worthwhile. It starts with the fish market, the Cruise Center, followed by Dockland and Övelgönne with the museum harbor and the beach. The destination is Finkenwerder, where you can get off or take ferry 64 to Teufelsbrück.
Image: © Ajepbah / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 en, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26698936
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