The old Elbe Tunnel was opened on May 7th 1911 as "St. Pauli Elbe Tunnel" and was considered a technical marvel. The old Elbe Tunnel was built to relieve the ferry operations on the Elbe, as the number of port workers increased rapidly in the beginning of the twentieth century. Nowadys the old Elbe Tunnel remains a connection between St. Pauli Docking Piers and the Elbe island Steinwerder. Mostly it is more of a nostalgic memory and a wonderful tourist attraction though. A walk or drive through the 426 metres length of old Elbe Tunnel is a special and great experience when visiting Hamburg harbour. Pedestrians and cyclist use the tunnel free of charge and may then enjoy fantastic views over the Hanseatic City and the harbour. You may also drive through the tunnel by car, but will then have to pay a fee of 2,-.
Please make sure to regard the oneway rules: cars may drive direction Steinwerder from 8am to 1pm and direction St. Pauli from 1pm to 6pm during the week, while on weekends and public holidays the tunnel is closed for cars. Pedestrians and cyclists may use the tunnel at all times.
From the entrance hall with a beautiful cupola there are dramatic stairways taking you down into the tunnel. If you do not feel like walking, you may also just take one of the four elevators that are just as spectacular as the stairways. The tunnel tubes are decorated with mural reliefs which illustrate in a most dramatic way the overlying river Elbe, using images of fish, crayfish, shells, but also of rats and items, that have been thrown away.
The old Elbe Tunnel was listed as landmarked building in 2003 and was furthermore, on the occasion of it´s 100th birthday, honored as „historical landmark of engineer architecture in Germany“ by the Federal Chamber of Engineers and the Hamburg engineering chamber construction.
Recently visiting the old Elbe Tunnel has become quite difficult, due to several conructions going on. Currently the east tube is being refurbished with the west tube to follow starting in June 2019.
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