St. Pauli Elbtunnel, known as Alter Elbtunnel or the Old Elbe Tunnel, is an underwater pedestrian and vehicle tunnel in Hamburg. The 426-meter long tunnel consist of two six-meter-wide tunnels, connecting the inner city of Hamburg at Landungsbrücken with the shipyards at Steinwerder. Construction began in 1907 and it opened in 1911, making getting to and from the shipyards easier. This had a great effect on the lives of thousands of workers and the St. Pauli. Elbtunnel is today a nostalgic and beloved piece of living Hamburg history.
The continent's first river tunnel
The Elbe Tunnel was a technical sensation when it opened and the first river tunnel on the continent. It became a necessity as the Port of Hamburg was growing and moving to the southern side of the Elbe, requiring improved transport connections. The tunnel, which sits at a depth of 24 meters, is serviced by four large elevators at each riverbank allowing for easy access. Travelers can also take the stairs down. As the Old Elbe Tunnel is still used for crossing the river it can be busy during the weekdays. During weekends however the tunnel is closed for traffic, making it much less crowded and a perfect time for a visit.
A work of art
The St. Pauli Elbtunnel is a piece of art from start to finish. Its entry point on the St. Pauli side is a large, distinctive, square structure with a copper roof making it a striking landmark by the riverbank. The twin tunnels are covered in glazed ceramic tiles and even though it suffered heavy damage during World War II bombing raids, these rich decorations still stand today. Several movie scenes have also been filmed in the tunnels and the tunnels are a popular location for exhibitions, such as the annual Elb-Art.
The St. Pauli Elbtunnel is unique even today and this living, breathing part of Hamburg's history is well worth a visit.