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Regional route Hamburg Metropolitan Region | Germany

The Hamburg Metropolitan Region is typified by its geographical position on the Elbe River and the shores of the North Sea’s German Bight. Traditionally, the Elbe and its tributaries have provided a strong pull for businesses to locate in towns and municipalities in the region. Industrial and other ... more

Hamburg Metropolitan Region Route of Industrial Heritage

The Hamburg Metropolitan Region is typified by its geographical position on the Elbe River and the shores of the North Sea’s German Bight. Traditionally, the Elbe and its tributaries have provided a strong pull for businesses to locate in towns and municipalities in the region. Industrial and other historical relics with connections to the river and water are reminders of the distinctive development and history of this landscape. The region encompasses an industrial-cultural "water landscape", not to be found anywhere else.

The Hamburg Metropolitan Region and its surrounding areas comprise a special industrial region, but its appearance is not defined by clusters of chimneys or huge stores of raw materials. The machinery of industrialisation has often become part of the landscape over time, almost disappearing into the vastness of the cultural space, which is what makes it so appealing. The most crucial location factor is proximity to water – the Elbe with its tributaries and canals, as well as the North and Baltic Seas. Inexpensive transport by ship made industrialisation possible here. Many raw materials were brought into the region via the world’s oceans, traditionally mainly coal, oil, rubber and oilseeds.

The region’s watercourses already played an important role for inhabitants of the Metropolitan Region centuries ago - not only in the development of the Hanseatic League. Later rivers and waterways also provided a structure for the industrialisation of the region: water was a source of power - water mills have existed for around 1,000 years - and was also a transport route as industrialisation got under way.

The city of Hamburg has always been one of the world’s largest seaports. Industry in the city and the region has been closely linked to the history of the port. Many of its engineering works and shipyards, fish processors and oil mills, rubber and copper producing factories and, more recently, the aerospace industry are or were world class. Large-scale industry continues to be located in Hamburg – it is one of Germany’s major industrial sites. Individual sectors have made their mark in the region: Cuxhaven stands for fish; Itzehoe, Hemmoor, and Buxtehude for cement; Gnarrenburg for peat and glass; the areas around Bremervörde and Stade for bricks, and Lüneburg for salt. The whole of the metropolitan area is dotted with monuments to industrial culture: the typical docks, lighthouses, bridges and ships.

The network of drinking water, sewerage and irrigation systems developed along the rivers became the basis of livelihood for millions of people. Throughout the region, water towers have been preserved, as have large drinking water and wastewater facilities in Hamburg. Hundreds of miles of dikes and several dozen pumping stations and sluices are also reminders of the fact that the inhabitants always had to protect themselves against floods.

Industrial monuments in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region often define the landscape. Some of them are particularly valuable and attractive, such as Germany’s oldest lighthouse in Travemünde and the last surviving original emigration halls in Cuxhaven. Hamburg can boast impressive port facilities and ships, whilst along the Ilmenau in Lüneburg a series of monuments hark back to the operation of the historic salt works. Artificial waterways such as the Elbe-Lübeck canal or the Elde-Müritz waterway are evidence of the region’s heavy waterborne freight traffic. There was even mining in the region: in Malliss, Mecklenburg, or along the river Aller, traces of those times still exist.
Some industrial monuments are of national importance, such as the hydroelectric power plant in Farchau near Ratzeburg and the Schaalsee canal; the world’s oldest dynamite factory in Geesthacht; the old Elbe Tunnel in Hamburg, or the brickworks, Ziegelei Rusch, in Drochtersen near Stade. Nowhere else in the world is such a large collection of historic motor-powered freight ships maintained as in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. Among them are the MS Cap San Diego and the MS Bleichen in Hamburg, the Greundiek in Stade and Iris Jörg in Wischhafen. The region also still operates one of the world's busiest artificial waterways for oceangoing vessels: the Kiel Canal, which connects the Elbe estuary with Kiel, and thus with the Baltic Sea.

"Waterside Industrial Culture Days"

Taking place every other year since 2011, the Waterside Industrial Culture Days event has helped to make the technical legacy of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region known and accessible. During the two-day programme, the public will be able to visit the facilities, which will be explained and filled with life. Information and recreational tours will guide visitors to the various objects, conveying their history and past functions.


ERIH Anchor Points

Hamburg | Germany
The telephone, the light bulb, the camera – what we now take for granted was revolutionary around 1900. But technical progress had its price, as can be seen by the spittoon for tuberculosis sufferers – an expressive symbol of the poverty-stricken living and working conditions in the old cities. ...

Hamburg Museum of Work
Wiesendamm 3
22305 Hamburg, Germany

Member Sites ERIH Association

It is not far from Hamburg's city centre to the green gem in the Norderelbe, the Water Art on Kaltehofe island in the Rothenburgsort district. From here, Hamburg was supplied with clean and germ-free drinking water for almost 100 years from 1893 onwards. Since 2011, the museum, industrial monument ...

Kaltehofe Elbe Island Water Art
Kaltehofe Hauptdeich 6-7
20539 Hamburg, Germany

Lüneburg | Germany
Lüneburg is an old hanseatic city at the edge of Lüneburg Heath, which is located between Hamburg and Hannover. Local salt extraction has a 1,000-year history here. The fires under the boiling pans were extinguished in 1980, thereby closing a 1,000-year chapter on a salt works whose historical ...

German Salt Museum
Sülfmeisterstrasse 1
21335 Lüneburg, Germany


Elmshorn | Germany
The museum presents the history of industry, technology and everyday life in Schleswig-Holstein. Elmshorn became an important industrial centre in the nineteenth century, especially for the food industries but also leather, textiles, ceramics and shipbuilding. The museum is in a five-storey former ...

Elsmhorn Industrial Museum
Catharinenstraße 1
25335 Elsmhorn, Germany

Hamburg | Germany
Right in the middle of Hamburg’s port you will find a network of cargo-handling equipment including ships and railways, sheds and cranes. By 1912, the construction of Hamburg’s dockside sheds 50 to 53 at Bremer quay had heralded a pioneering infrastructure for cargo handling. Cargo storage warehouse ...

Harbor Museum
Schuppen 50a Kleiner Grasbrook Australiastraße
20457 Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg has for many centuries been one of Europe’s principal maritime trading centres, and the Speicherstadtmuseum (Warehouse City Museum) celebrates the outstanding architecture that characterises a part of the port that was rebuilt in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which was ...

Warehouse City | Warehouse City Museum
Am Sandtorkai 36
20457 Hamburg, Germany

The History Workshop deals with the era in Lübeck from industrialization to deindustrialization: its transformation from an ancient merchant city to and industrial one in the nineteenth century and the closure of many industries in recent decades. The key sectors in the city were steelmaking, ...

Herrenwyk History Workshop Industrial Museum
Industriemuseum Geschichtswerkstatt Herrenwyk
Kokerstraße 1-3
23569 Lübeck, Germany

Welcome to the "Alte Salzstraße" (Old Salt Route) – located between the Hanseatic cities of Lüneburg, Lübeck and Hamburg. The geographical position on the ancient trading route – once a Via Regia – and the vicinity of the three important centres of the Hanseatic league gave birth to the idea of ...

Draught Horse Transportation Museum
Museum für die Arbeit mit Zugpferden
Alte Salzstraße 29
21483 Lütau, Germany

Munster | Germany
The Bundeswehr’s (German Army’s) school of armoured warfare is situated at Munster, and from the 1960s officers at the school began to accumulate a collection of tanks for training purposes. The establishment of a teaching collection was formally approved by the federal Ministry of Defence in 1972. ...

German Tank Museum
Hans-Krüger-Strasse 33
29633 Munster, Germany

Neumünster | Germany
The museum of cloth and technology explores how people have made woollen cloth for over 2,000 years, from the Iron Age to the present day. It occupies an impressive purpose-built building in the centre of the town. The museum explains the whole process from the raw wool to the finished cloth. It has ...

Museum Tuch + Technik
Kleinflecken 1
24534 Neumünster, Germany

Osten, a small community of less than 2,000 people near Cuxhaven in Lower Saxony, is separated from the nearby village of Hemmoor by the River Oste, a tributary of the Elbe. The rise and fall of the river caused by the North Sea tides made it difficult to construct a conventional bridge between the ...

Osten–Hemmoor Transporter Bridge
Schwebefähre Osten-Hemmoor
21756 Osten, Germany

Scharnebeck | Germany
The Elbe Lateral Canal (Elbe Seitenkanal) is an almost straight waterway, 115 km long that links the River Elbe at Artlenburg near Hamburg with the eastern part of the Mittelland Canal near Wolfsburg. Construction began in 1968 and it was formally opened in 1976, but closed again for a period after ...

Boat Lift
Am Unteren Vorhafen
21379 Scharnebeck, Germany

Wismar | Germany
PhanTechnikum began as the state technical museum of the German Democratic Republic in 1961. It reopened on a new site in 2012. Its interactive exhibitions aim to inspire amazement and discovery about technology. The displays are organised on the themes of fire, water and air. The fire section looks ...

Zum Festplatz 3
23966 Wismar, Germany