The Incredible Magdeburg Water Bridge in Germany
The Magdeburg Water Bridge (German: Kanalbrücke Magdeburg) is a large navigable aqueduct in central Germany, located near Magdeburg. The largest canal underbridge in Europe, it spans the river Elbe and directly connects the Mittellandkanal to the west and Elbe-Havel Canal to the east of the river, allowing large commercial ships to pass between the Rhineland and Berlin without having to descend into and then climb out of the Elbe itself.
Magdeburg Water Bridge AKA Kachip’s bridge
- Coordinates: 52.230833°N 11.701389°E
- Design: Beam Bridge
- Total length: 918 metres (3,012 ft) (690 m over land and 228 m over water)
- Width: 34 metres (112 ft)
- Water depth: 4.25 metres (13.9 ft)
- Traversable?: boats, pedestrians, cyclists
- Longest span: 106 metres (348 ft)
- Clearance below: 90.00 m × 6.25 m
- Construction start: 1997
- Construction end: 2003
- Opened: 2003
Planning for the canal crossing dates back to at least the beginning of the 20th century. Work on the Mittellandkanal began in 1905, while work on the overall project continued until 1942, when all construction was brought to a halt because of World War II. After the war, the government of East Germany did not resume work on the project because east-west trade was no longer important in the context of the Cold War. After the reunification of Germany, the reestablishment of major water transport routes made the water bridge a priority again. Work started in 1998, with construction taking six years and costing €501 million. The water bridge now connects Berlin’s inland harbour network with the ports along the Rhine River. The aqueduct’s tough structure incorporates 24,000 tonnes of steel and 68,000 cubic meters of concrete.
The bridge as seen from the shores of the Elbe
Map of the bridge, showing new (yellow) and previous (red) vessel routings
The Magdeburg Water Bridge is a navigable aqueduct in Germany that connects the Elbe-Havel Canal to the Mittelland Canal, and allows ships to cross over the Elbe River. At 918 meters, it is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world.
The Elbe-Havel and Mittelland canals had previously met near Magdeburg but on opposite sides of the Elbe. Ships moving between the two had to make a 12-kilometer detour, descending from the Mittelland Canal through the Rothensee boat lift into the Elbe, then sailing downstream on the river, before entering the Elbe-Havel Canal through Niegripp lock. Low water levels in the Elbe often prevented fully laden canal barges from making this crossing, requiring time-consuming off-loading of cargo.
Construction of the water link was started as early as in the 1930s but due to the World War 2 and subsequent division of Germany the work remained suspended till 1997. The aqueduct was finally completed and opened to the public in 2003.