Hamburg – Old Elbe Tunnel

The Old Elbe Tunnel was opened in September 1911 and there are two tunnel tubes, one of which is used by pedestrians and cyclists, with the other used by cars. It’s quite a complex set-up, with car drivers needing to use elevators to transport their cars down to the tunnel, and then lifts to get the car back up on the other side.

I decided to walk down (it’s 24 metres), even though I slightly regretted that as there’s quite a drop on either side of the steps and I’m not very good with heights.

The steps used to be escalators, but these were too expensive to keep maintained and so they’re back to steps. I could have just got the elevator down to the bottom of the tunnel, but that felt like cheating.

I thought I’d just walk through the tunnel as an experience and I didn’t bother coming back out the other side, instead just walking straight back. It’s about a six minute walk each way (it’s 426 metres) and it seemed very well used given the number of people I saw. Although car drivers have to pay to be transported, it’s free of charge for pedestrians and cyclists.

There are some ceramic reliefs along the tunnel walls, with a variety of different images.

The plaque at the entrance to the tunnel.

As an experience, it’s something rather different and it was an engineering marvel at the time that it was constructed. When they were building the tunnel the effects of Caissons Disease, linked to decompression, weren’t fully understood and three men died with hundreds more suffering from the effects.