Altes Land Maritime Attractions

This region famous for its fruit and orchards has a maritime history deeply intertwined with the Elbe river and nearby Hamburg.

Altes Land on the Elbe

Altes Land - Maritime Attractions

The Altes Land region isn’t just about orchards: shipping has always been an important pillar for the Altländer people. With its fertile marshland, the Elbe has historically not only ensured successful fruit growing, but was also the most important waterway in Altes Land. Lighthouses still dot the landscape, showing ships the way up and down the river. In the past, traders and ships brought the fruit grown here to Hamburg via the local ports. And the large Pella Sietas shipyard has its home in Cranz on the Este estuary. 

A good introduction to the maritime side of Altes Land is simply a relaxed walk on the dyke, which will grant visitors a spectacular view of the Elbe. Another exciting place to visit is the former seafaring school in Grünendeich, which houses the Haus der Maritimen Landschaft Unterelbe (lit. ‘House of the Lower Elbe Maritime Landscape’). Today, the house primarily serves as an information point about the diverse offerings of the region. But resident captains will regularly show guests the in-house captain's bridge. Plus, the in-house planetarium opens on certain days of the year or by appointment. Finally, the permanent exhibition Meer erleben an der Elbe (lit. ‘Experience the Sea on the Elbe’) includes, among other attractions, a walk-in model of the Lower Elbe and rotating art and photo exhibitions. 

Another Altes Land maritime highlight is the Twielenflether lighthouse, located in the far west of the region. The lighthouse has been converted into a maritime museum open to the public. At a scale of 1:1250, the ships on display there trace the development of shipping in the region over the past 100 years. 

Today only one ship remains in Borstel Harbour, which in days gone by was the main shipment point for apples, cherries and other types of fruit. In fact, at the end of the 18th century, it was the home port for nearly 60 ships. Although it has seen busier days, the old port is still well worth a visit. Every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon, the tjalk-style sailing ship Annemarie opens to visitors. Lectures on maritime topics such as Borstel Harbour history or Altländer ships and shipping companies can be booked on prior request.

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