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The Elbe (, ; cs, Labe ; nds, Ilv or ''Elv''; Upper and dsb, Łobjo), historically in English also Elve, is one of the major
river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of wate ...

river
s of
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Society, social and cultural identity. The Thirty Years' War between Catholic Church, Catholicism and Protestantism was a signifi ...

Central Europe
. It rises in the
Giant Mountains In folklore, giants (from Ancient Greek: ''wiktionary:gigas, gigas'', cognate wiktionary:giga-, giga-) are beings of human-like appearance, but are at times prodigious in size and strength or bear an otherwise notable appearance. The word ''gian ...
of the northern
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It ...
before traversing much of
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geography, geographical areas which at some point in time had a culture, cultural, ethnic gr ...

Bohemia
(western half of the Czech Republic), then
Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas to the north, and the to the south; it covers an area of ...

Germany
and flowing into the
North Sea The North Sea is a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
at
Cuxhaven Cuxhaven ( , ; ) is an independent town and seat of the Cuxhaven district, in Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, northwestern Ge ...

Cuxhaven
, northwest of
Hamburg Hamburg (, ; nds, label=Hamburg German, Low Saxon, Hamborg ), officially the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (german: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg; nds, label=Low Saxon, Friee un Hansestadt Hamborg),. is the List of cities in Germany by popul ...

Hamburg
. Its total length is . The Elbe's major
tributaries A tributary, or affluent, is a stream A stream is a body of water with surface water flowing within the stream bed, bed and Bank (geography), banks of a Channel (geography), channel. The flow of a stream is controlled by three inputs – ...
include the rivers
Vltava The Vltava ( , ; german: Moldau ) is the longest river in the Czech Republic, running southeast along the Bohemian Forest and then north across Bohemia, through Český Krumlov, České Budějovice and Prague, and finally merging with the Elbe a ...

Vltava
,
Saale The Saale (), also known as the Saxon Saale (german: Sächsische Saale) and Thuringian Saale (german: Thüringische Saale), is a river in Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It ...

Saale
,
Havel The Havel () is a river in northeastern Germany, flowing through the States of Germany, states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt. It is a right tributary of the Elbe and long. However, the direct distance from its ...

Havel
,
Mulde The Mulde () is a river in and , . It is a left tributary of the and is long. The river is formed by the confluence, near , of the (running through ) and the (with on its banks), both rising from the . From here the river runs northwards ...
,
Schwarze Elster The Black Elster or Schwarze Elster () is a long river in eastern Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , lan ...

Schwarze Elster
, and
Ohře The Ohře () or, slightly less commonly in English sources, the Eger (, Czech also: ''Oharka'' or ''Ohara'', Celtic: ''Agara'', pl, Ohrza), is a 316 km river in Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , c ...
. The Elbe river basin, comprising the Elbe and its tributaries, has a catchment area of , the twelfth largest in Europe. The basin spans four countries, however it lies almost entirely just in two of them, Germany (65.5%) and the Czech Republic (33.7%, covering about two thirds of the state's territory). Marginally, the basin stretches also to
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastli ...

Austria
(0.6%) and
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in . It is divided into 16 , covering an area of , and has a largely climate. Poland has a population of nearly 38.5 million people, and is the fifth-most populous . ...

Poland
(0.2%). The Elbe catchment area is inhabited by 24.4 million people, the biggest cities within are
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...

Berlin
,
Hamburg Hamburg (, ; nds, label=Hamburg German, Low Saxon, Hamborg ), officially the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (german: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg; nds, label=Low Saxon, Friee un Hansestadt Hamborg),. is the List of cities in Germany by popul ...

Hamburg
,
Prague Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people ...

Prague
,
Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the List of cities in German ...

Dresden
and
Leipzig Leipzig (, ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. With a population of 605,407 inhabitants as of 2021 (1.1 million residents in the larger urban zone), it surpasses the Saxon c ...

Leipzig
.


Etymology

First attested in Latin as ', the name ' means "river" or "river-bed" and is nothing more than the
High German The High German dialects (german: hochdeutsche Mundarten), or simply High German (; not to be confused with Standard High German which is imprecisely also called ''High German''), comprise the varieties Variety may refer to: Science and tec ...
version of a word ('' *albī'') found elsewhere in Germanic; cf.
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
river name ',
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
' "river",
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
' "river",
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
river name ', and
Middle Low German ''Der Keyserliken Stadt Lübeck Christlike Ordeninge/ tho denste dem hilgen Evangelio/ Christliker leve/ tucht/ frede unde enicheyt/ vor de yöget yn eyner guden Schole tho lerende. Unde de Kercken denere und rechten armen Christlick tho vorsorge ...
' "river-bed".


Course


In the Czech Republic

The Elbe rises at an elevation of about in the
Giant Mountains In folklore, giants (from Ancient Greek: ''wiktionary:gigas, gigas'', cognate wiktionary:giga-, giga-) are beings of human-like appearance, but are at times prodigious in size and strength or bear an otherwise notable appearance. The word ''gian ...
(also known as ''Krkonoše'' in Czech or in German as ''Riesengebirge'') on the northwest borders of the Czech Republic near Labská bouda. Of the numerous small streams whose waters compose the infant river, the most important is the Bílé Labe, or White Elbe. After plunging down the of the Labský vodopád, or Elbe Falls, the latter stream unites with the steeply torrential Malé Labe, and thereafter the united stream of the Elbe pursues a southerly course, emerging from the mountain glens at
Jaroměř Jaroměř (; german: Jermer) is a town in the Hradec Králové Region Hradec Králové Region ( cs, Královéhradecký kraj, ; pl, Kraj hradecki) is an administrative unit ( cs, kraj) of the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Čes ...
, where it receives Úpa and
Metuje The Metuje (; german: Mettau) is a river in north-eastern Czech Republic. It is a left tributary of the Elbe, Labe River. It is long, and its basin area is about 610 km2, of which in the Czech Republic. The Metuje flows through several towns, ...

Metuje
. Here the Elbe enters the vast vale named Polabí (meaning "land along the Elbe"), and continues on southwards through
Hradec Králové Hradec Králové (; german: Königgrätz) is a city of the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; cz, Česko ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bo ...
(where
Orlice Orlice (german: Adler) is a river in the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; cz, Česko ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Austria to the ...

Orlice
flows in) and then to
Pardubice Pardubice (; german: Pardubitz) is a city in the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; cz, Česko ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Austri ...

Pardubice
, where it turns sharply to the west. At
Kolín Kolín (; german: Kolin, Köllein, Collin) is a town in the Central Bohemian Region The Central Bohemian Region ( cz, Středočeský kraj, german: Mittelböhmische Region) is an administrative unit ( cz, kraj) of the Czech Republic, located in ...

Kolín
some further on, it bends gradually towards the north-west. At the village of Káraný, a little above , it picks up the Jizera. At
Mělník Mělník (; german: Melnik) is a town in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; cz, Česko ), is a landlocked country in Central Euro ...
its stream is more than doubled in volume by the
Vltava The Vltava ( , ; german: Moldau ) is the longest river in the Czech Republic, running southeast along the Bohemian Forest and then north across Bohemia, through Český Krumlov, České Budějovice and Prague, and finally merging with the Elbe a ...

Vltava
, or , a major river which winds northwards through
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geography, geographical areas which at some point in time had a culture, cultural, ethnic gr ...

Bohemia
. Upstream from the
confluence In geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...

confluence
the Vltava is in fact much longer ( against of the Elbe so far), and has a greater discharge and a larger
drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The drainage basin includes all the surface water from surface runoff, rain runoff, snowm ...

drainage basin
. Nonetheless, for historical reasons the river retains the name Elbe, also because at the confluence point it is the Elbe that flows through the main, wider valley while the Vltava flows into the valley to meet the Elbe at almost a right angle, and thus appears to be the tributary river. Some distance lower down, at
Litoměřice Litoměřice (; german: Leitmeritz) is a town in the Ústí nad Labem Region Ústí nad Labem Region or Ústecký Region ( cs, Ústecký kraj, german: Region Aussig), is an Regions of the Czech Republic, administrative unit ( cs, kraj) of the Cze ...
, the waters of the Elbe are tinted by the reddish
Ohře The Ohře () or, slightly less commonly in English sources, the Eger (, Czech also: ''Oharka'' or ''Ohara'', Celtic: ''Agara'', pl, Ohrza), is a 316 km river in Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , c ...
(Eger). Thus augmented, and swollen into a stream wide, the Elbe carves a path through the basaltic mass of the České Středohoří, churning its way through a picturesque, deep, narrow and curved rocky gorge.


In Germany

Shortly after crossing the Czech-German frontier, and passing through the sandstone defiles of the
Elbe Sandstone Mountains The Elbe Sandstone Mountains, also called the Elbe Sandstone Highlands (german: Elbsandsteingebirge; cs, Labské pískovce) is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mounta ...
, the stream assumes a north-westerly direction, which on the whole it preserves right to the North Sea. The river rolls through
Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the List of cities in German ...

Dresden
and finally, beyond
Meißen Meissen (in German orthography German orthography is the orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. ...

Meißen
, enters on its long journey across the
North German Plain 250px, Morning fog in East Frisia. The North German Plain or Northern Lowland (german: Norddeutsches Tiefland) is one of the major geographical regions of Germany. It is the German part of the North European Plain. The region is bounded by the co ...
passing along the former western border of
East Germany East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990 in eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current ...
, touching
Torgau Torgau () is a town on the banks of the Elbe The Elbe (, ; cs, Labe ; nds, Ilv or ''Elv''; Upper and dsb, Łobjo), historically in English also Elve, is one of the major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually ...
,
Wittenberg Wittenberg ( , ; Low Saxon Low Saxon or Lower Saxon may refer to: Geography *Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, northwestern ...
,
Dessau Dessau is a town and former municipality in Germany at the confluence of the rivers Mulde The Mulde () is a river in and , . It is a left tributary of the and is long. The river is formed by the confluence, near , of the (running thro ...
,
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low German, Low Saxon, Meideborg ) is the capital and second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony-Anhalt, after Halle (Saale). It is situated on the Elbe River. Otto I, Holy Roman Emp ...

Magdeburg
,
Wittenberge Wittenberge () is a town of eighteen thousand people on the middle Elbe in the district of Prignitz, Brandenburg, Germany. Geography Wittenberge is situated at the right (north-eastern) bank of the middle Elbe at its confluence with the Stepenit ...
, and
Hamburg Hamburg (, ; nds, label=Hamburg German, Low Saxon, Hamborg ), officially the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (german: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg; nds, label=Low Saxon, Friee un Hansestadt Hamborg),. is the List of cities in Germany by popul ...

Hamburg
on the way, and taking on the waters of the
Mulde The Mulde () is a river in and , . It is a left tributary of the and is long. The river is formed by the confluence, near , of the (running through ) and the (with on its banks), both rising from the . From here the river runs northwards ...
and
Saale The Saale (), also known as the Saxon Saale (german: Sächsische Saale) and Thuringian Saale (german: Thüringische Saale), is a river in Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It ...

Saale
from the west, and those of the
Schwarze Elster The Black Elster or Schwarze Elster () is a long river in eastern Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , lan ...

Schwarze Elster
,
Havel The Havel () is a river in northeastern Germany, flowing through the States of Germany, states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt. It is a right tributary of the Elbe and long. However, the direct distance from its ...

Havel
and
Elde The Elde () is a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reach ...
from the east. In its northern section both banks of the Elbe are characterised by flat, very fertile
marshland A marsh is a that is dominated by rather than species.Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p Marshes can often be found at the edges of lakes and stre ...

marshland
s (
Elbe MarshesImage:Elbmarsch.jpg, 250px, Flooded terrain in front of the dikes of the Lüneburg Elbe marshes The Elbe marshes (german: Elbmarsch) are an extensive region of marsh or polderland along the lower and middle reaches of the River Elbe in northern Germa ...
), former flood plains of the Elbe now diked. At Magdeburg there is a viaduct, the
Magdeburg Water Bridge 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 Mittelland Canal, Mitt ...
, that carries a canal and its shipping traffic over the Elbe and its banks, allowing shipping traffic to pass under it unhindered. From the
sluice A sluice ( ) is a water channel sometimes controlled by a gate or lock Lock may refer to: *Lock and key A lock is a mechanics, mechanical or Electronics, electronic fastening device that is released by a physical object (such as a key, Ke ...

sluice
of
Geesthacht Geesthacht () is the largest city in the District of the Duchy of Lauenburg (Herzogtum Lauenburg) in Schleswig-Holstein Schleswig-Holstein () is the Northern Germany, northernmost of the 16 states of Germany, comprising most of the historical ...
(at kilometre 586) on downstream the Elbe is subject to the
tide Tides are the rise and fall of sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an average In colloquial, ordinary language, an average is a single number taken as representative of a list of numbers, usually the sum of ...

tide
s, the tidal Elbe section is called the (Unterelbe). Soon the Elbe reaches Hamburg. Within the city-state the Unterelbe has a number of branch streams, such as
Dove Elbe The Dove Elbe () is a closed anabranch An anabranch is a section of a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground an ...
,
Gose Elbe Gose Elbe is a river of Hamburg, Germany. It was an anabranch of the Elbe, but the inflow closed by a dike in 1390. It flows into the Dove Elbe near Reitbrook. See also

*List of rivers of Hamburg Rivers of Hamburg Bergedorf Rivers of German ...
, Köhlbrand, Northern Elbe (Norderelbe), Reiherstieg, Southern Elbe (Süderelbe). Some of which have been disconnected for vessels from the main stream by dikes. In 1390 the Gose Elbe (literally in en, shallow Elbe) was separated from the main stream by a dike connecting the two then-islands of
Kirchwerder Kirchwerder () is a quarter of Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central European Time, CET , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central European Summer Time, CEST , utc_offset ...

Kirchwerder
and Neuengamme. The Dove Elbe (literally in en, deaf Elbe) was diked off in 1437/38 at Gammer Ort. These
hydraulic engineering Hydraulic engineering as a sub-discipline of civil engineering Civil engineering is a Regulation and licensure in engineering, professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and ...
works were carried out to protect marshlands from inundation, and to improve the water supply of the
Port of Hamburg The Port of Hamburg (German: ''Hamburger Hafen'') is a seaport The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (whe ...
. After the heavy inundation by the
North Sea flood of 1962 The North Sea flood of 1962 was a natural disaster affecting mainly the coastal regions of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type ...
the western section of the Southern Elbe was separated, becoming the Old Southern Elbe, while the waters of the eastern Southern Elbe now merge into the Köhlbrand, which is bridged by the , the last bridge over the Elbe before the North Sea. The Northern Elbe passes the Elbe Philharmonic Hall and is then crossed under by the old Elbe Tunnel (Alter Elbtunnel), both in Hamburg's city centre. A bit more downstream the Low Elbe's two main
anabranch An anabranch is a section of a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course wit ...
es Northern Elbe and the Köhlbrand reunite south of Altona-Altstadt, a locality of Hamburg. Right after both anabranches reunited the Low Elbe is passed under by the New Elbe Tunnel (Neuer Elbtunnel), the last structural road link crossing the river before the North Sea. At the bay Mühlenberger Loch in Hamburg at kilometre 634, the Northern Elbe and the Southern Elbe (here now the cut-off meander Old Southern Elbe) used to reunite, which is why the bay is seen as the starting point of the
Lower Elbe The Unterelbe or, in English usually the Lower Elbe, refers to the lower reaches of the river Elbe in Germany influenced by the tides. It starts at kilometre 586, at the sluice of Geesthacht, where the Elbe forms the border between Lower Sax ...
(Niederelbe). Leaving the city-state the Lower Elbe then passes between
Holstein Holstein (; nds, label=Northern Low Saxon, Holsteen; da, Holsten; Latin and historical en, Holsatia, italic=yes) is the region between the rivers Elbe and Eider (river), Eider. It is the southern half of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost S ...
and the Elbe-Weser Triangle with
Stade Stade (), officially the Hanseatic City of Stade (german: Hansestadt Stade, nds, Hansestadt Stood) is a city in Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated i ...

Stade
until it flows into the North Sea at
Cuxhaven Cuxhaven ( , ; ) is an independent town and seat of the Cuxhaven district, in Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, northwestern Ge ...

Cuxhaven
. Near its mouth it passes the entrance to the
Kiel Canal estuary, and thence to the North Sea The Kiel Canal (german: Nord-Ostsee-Kanal, literally "North- oEast alticSea canal", formerly known as the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal) is a freshwater canal in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Schles ...
at Brunsbüttel before it
debouch In hydrology Hydrology (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxim ...
es into the North Sea.


Towns and cities


Navigation

The Elbe has always been navigable by commercial vessels, and provides important trade links as far inland as
Prague Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people ...

Prague
. The river is linked by
canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * ...

canal
s (
Elbe Lateral Canal The Elbe Lateral Canal (german: Elbe-Seitenkanal; ), is a long canal Canals are waterways Channel (geography), channels, or artificial waterways, for water conveyance, or to service water transport vehicles. They may also help with irri ...
, Elbe-Havel Canal,
Mittellandkanal The Mittelland Canal, also known as the Midland Canal, (german: Mittellandkanal, ) is a major canal Canals are waterways Channel (geography), channels, or artificial waterways, for water conveyance, or to service water transport vehicle ...

Mittellandkanal
) to the industrial areas of Germany and to
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...

Berlin
. The Elbe-Lübeck Canal links the Elbe to the
Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that a ...

Baltic Sea
, as does the
Kiel Canal estuary, and thence to the North Sea The Kiel Canal (german: Nord-Ostsee-Kanal, literally "North- oEast alticSea canal", formerly known as the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal) is a freshwater canal in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Schles ...
, whose western entrance is near the mouth of the Elbe. The Elbe-Weser Shipping Channel connects the Elbe with the
Weser The Weser () is a river of Lower Saxony in north-west Germany. It begins at Hann. Münden, Hannoversch Münden through the confluence of the Werra and Fulda (river), Fulda. It passes through the Hanseatic League, Hanseatic city of Bremen. Its m ...
. By the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
the navigation on the Elbe became subject to the International Commission of the Elbe, seated in Dresden. The statute of the Commission was signed in Dresden on February 22, 1922. Following articles 363 and 364 of the Treaty of Versailles,
Czechoslovakia , , yi, טשעכאסלאוואקיי, , common_name = Czechoslovakia , life_span = 1918–19391945–1992 , p1 = Austria-Hungary , image_p1 = , s1 = Czech Re ...

Czechoslovakia
was entitled to lease its own harbour bassin,
Moldauhafen Moldauhafen (Vltava The Vltava ( , ; german: Moldau ) is the longest river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and ...
in Hamburg. The contract of lease with Germany, and supervised by the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
, was signed on February 14, 1929, ending in 2028. Since 1993 the Czech Republic holds the former Czechoslovak legal position. Before Germany was reunited, waterway transport in Western Germany was hindered by the fact that
inland navigationInland navigation is a transport system allowing ships and barges to use inland waterways (such as canals, rivers and lakes). These waterways have inland ports, marinas, quays, and wharfs. See also * Code Européen des Voies de la Navigation Intér ...
to Hamburg had to pass through the German Democratic Republic. The Elbe-Seitenkanal (Elbe Lateral Canal) was built between the West German section of the Mittellandkanal and the Lower Elbe to restore this connection. When the two nations were reunited, works were begun to improve and restore the original links: the
Magdeburg Water Bridge 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 Mittelland Canal, Mitt ...
now allows large barges to cross the Elbe without having to enter the river. The often low water levels of the Elbe no longer hinder navigation to Berlin.


Islands


Headwaters

* Hořejší – in
Kolín Kolín (; german: Kolin, Köllein, Collin) is a town in the Central Bohemian Region The Central Bohemian Region ( cz, Středočeský kraj, german: Mittelböhmische Region) is an administrative unit ( cz, kraj) of the Czech Republic, located in ...

Kolín
* Kmochův – in Kolín


Upper reaches

* Pillnitzer Elbinsel – in
Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the List of cities in German ...

Dresden
's southern quarter of
Pillnitz Pillnitz is a quarter in the east of Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony and its second most populous city, aft ...

Pillnitz
in the
Dresden Basin The Dresden BasinDickinson (1964). pp. 624-625. (german: (Dresdner) Elbtalkessel or ''Dresdner Elbtalweitung'') is a roughly 45 km long and 10 km wide area of the Elbe , german: Elbe, Low German: ''Ilv'' or ''Elv'' , name_etymology ...
* Gauernitzer Elbinsel – east of Gauernitz in the Dresden Basin between Dresden and
Meißen Meissen (in German orthography German orthography is the orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the representation of a language with written symbols. ...

Meißen


Middle Elbe

* Rotehorninsel – in
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low German, Low Saxon, Meideborg ) is the capital and second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony-Anhalt, after Halle (Saale). It is situated on the Elbe River. Otto I, Holy Roman Emp ...

Magdeburg
* Steinkopfinsel – in Magdeburg


Between Northern and Southern Elbe (Norderelbe/Süderelbe)

* Wilhelmsburg, Hamburg, Wilhelmsburg, including the islands Veddel, Georgswerder, Kleiner Grasbrook, Steinwerder, Peute and several more – in
Hamburg Hamburg (, ; nds, label=Hamburg German, Low Saxon, Hamborg ), officially the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (german: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg; nds, label=Low Saxon, Friee un Hansestadt Hamborg),. is the List of cities in Germany by popul ...

Hamburg
's Hamburg-Mitte, borough of Mitte (centre) * Kaltehofe (also "Kalte Hofe") – in Hamburg's borough of Mitte * Finkenwerder – in Hamburg's borough of Mitte


Lower Elbe The Unterelbe or, in English usually the Lower Elbe, refers to the lower reaches of the river Elbe in Germany influenced by the tides. It starts at kilometre 586, at the sluice of Geesthacht, where the Elbe forms the border between Lower Sax ...

* Schweinesand – south of Blankenese, Blankenese (Hamburg) * Neßsand – south of Tinsdal * Hahnöfersand – north of Jork * Hanskalbsand – south of Schulau * Lühesand – east of
Stade Stade (), officially the Hanseatic City of Stade (german: Hansestadt Stade, nds, Hansestadt Stood) is a city in Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated i ...

Stade
* Bishorst, Bisterhorster Sand – west of Wedel * Pagensand – west of Seestermühe * Schwarztonnensand – east of Drochtersen * Rhinplate – west of Glückstadt


Outer Elbe (estuary)

* Neuwerk – an exclave – in Hamburg's borough of Mitte * Scharhörn – an exclave Hamburg's borough of Mitte * Nigehörn – an exclave Hamburg's borough of Mitte


Former islands

* Medemsand


Ferries

The Elbe is crossed by many ferries, both passenger and car carrying. In downstream order, these include: *Dolní Žleb Ferry, at Dolní Žleb in the Děčín District *Rathen Ferry, at Rathen *Pillnitz Kleinzschachwitz Ferry, in the eastern suburbs of
Dresden Dresden (, ; wen, label=Sorbian languages, Upper and Lower Sorbian, Drježdźany) is the capital city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony and its second most populous city, after Leipzig. It is the List of cities in German ...

Dresden
*Laubegast Niederpoyritz Ferry, in Dresden *Johannstadt Neustadt Ferry, in Dresden *Belgern Ottersitz Ferry, between Belgern and Ottersitz *Dommitzsch Prettin Ferry, between Dommitzsch and Prettin *Mauken Pretzsch Ferry, between Mauken and Pretzsch, Wittenberg, Pretzsch *Wartenburg Elster Ferry, between Wartenburg (Elbe), Wartenburg and Elster (Elbe), Elster *Coswig Ferry, Wörlitz Coswig Ferry, between Wörlitz and Coswig, Anhalt, Coswig *Steutz Aken Ferry, between Steutz and Aken (Elbe), Aken *Tochheim Ferry, between Tochheim and Alt Tochheim near Breitenhagen *Barby Ferry, Ronney Barby Ferry, between Barby, Germany, Barby and Walternienburg *Westerhüsen Ferry, at Westerhüsen near
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low German, Low Saxon, Meideborg ) is the capital and second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony-Anhalt, after Halle (Saale). It is situated on the Elbe River. Otto I, Holy Roman Emp ...

Magdeburg
*Rogätz Ferry, Schartau Rogätz Ferry, between Schartau, Saxony-Anhalt, Schartau and Rogätz *Ferchland Grieben Ferry, between Ferchland and Grieben *Sandau Ferry, Sandau Büttnershof Ferry, between Sandau and Büttnershof *Räbel Havelberg Ferry, between Räbel and Havelberg *Lenzen Pevestorf Ferry, between Lenzen and Pevestorf *Darchau Ferry, between Darchau and Neu Darchau *, between Bleckede and Neu Bleckede *Zollenspieker Ferry, between
Kirchwerder Kirchwerder () is a quarter of Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central European Time, CET , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central European Summer Time, CEST , utc_offset ...

Kirchwerder
and Winsen (Luhe) to the east of
Hamburg Hamburg (, ; nds, label=Hamburg German, Low Saxon, Hamborg ), officially the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (german: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg; nds, label=Low Saxon, Friee un Hansestadt Hamborg),. is the List of cities in Germany by popul ...

Hamburg
*Ferries in the port of Hamburg, operated by HADAG Seetouristik und Fährdienst, HADAG *, between Wischhafen and Glückstadt to the west of Hamburg *, between Brunsbüttel and
Cuxhaven Cuxhaven ( , ; ) is an independent town and seat of the Cuxhaven district, in Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, northwestern Ge ...

Cuxhaven
at the mouth of the river Many of these ferries are traditional reaction ferry, reaction ferries, a type of cable ferry that uses the current flow of the river to provide propulsion.


Prehistory

Humans first lived in the northern Elbe region before about 200,000 years ago, during the Middle Paleolithic.


History

Ptolemy recorded the Elbe as ' (Germanic languages, Germanic for "river") in Germania Magna, with its source in the ' mountains (, or Giant Mountains), where the Germanic ' then lived. The Elbe has long served as an important delineator of European geography. The Roman Empire, Romans knew the river as the '; however, they made only one serious Early Imperial campaigns in Germania, attempt to move the border of their empire forward from the Rhine to the Elbe, and this attempt failed with the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, after which they never seriously tried again. In the Middle Ages the Elbe formed the eastern limit of the Carolingian Empire, Empire of Charlemagne (King of the Franks from 769 to 814). The river's navigable sections were essential to the success of the Hanseatic League in the Late Middle Ages, and much trade was carried on its waters. From the early 6th century Slavic tribes (known as the Polabian Slavs) settled in the areas east of the rivers Elbe and Saale (which had been depopulated since the 4th century). In the 10th century the Ottonian Dynasty (dominant from 919 to 1024) began conquering these lands; a slow process of Germanization ensued, including the Wendish Crusade of 1147. The Elbe delineated the western parts of Germany from the eastern so-called East Elbia, where soccage and serfdom were more strict and prevailed longer than westwards of the river, and where feudal lords held bigger estates than in the west. Thus incumbents of huge land-holdings became characterised as East Elbian Junkers. The Northern Germany, Northern German area north of the Lower Elbe used to be called Nordalbingia, North Albingia in the Middle Ages. When the four Lutheran Landeskirche, church bodies there united in 1977 they chose the name North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Other, administrative units were named after the river Elbe, such as the Kingdom of Westphalia, Westphalian ''Elbe département'' (1807–1813) and ''Lower Elbe département'' (1810), and the French département Bouches-de-l'Elbe (1811–1814). In 1945, as World War II drew to a close, Nazi Germany, Nazi German territory came under attack from the armies of the western Allies advancing from the west and those of the Soviet Union advancing from the east. On 25 April 1945 these two forces linked up near
Torgau Torgau () is a town on the banks of the Elbe The Elbe (, ; cs, Labe ; nds, Ilv or ''Elv''; Upper and dsb, Łobjo), historically in English also Elve, is one of the major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually ...
, on the Elbe. The victorious countries marked the event unofficially as Elbe Day. From 1949 to 1990 the Elbe formed part of the Inner German border between
East Germany East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990 in eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current ...
and West Germany. During the 1970s the Soviet Union stated that Adolf Hitler's ashes had been scattered in the Elbe following disinterment from their original burial-site.


See also

* 2002 European floods * 2006 European floods * 2013 European floods * Saxon Elbeland, the region of the Upper Elbe in Germany * List of waterbodies in Saxony-Anhalt


References


Bibliography

*


External links


Ancient library Albis river in Germania Magna


* [http://www.ergis.cz/krkonose/index.php?lang=en&detail=38&path=places information and pictures of the spring of Labe in Giant Mountains (Krkonoše, Riesengebirge)] *
Mühlanger, Wittenberg district in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. 9 km to Lutherstadt Wittenberg –Germany --click-on: Bildergalerie click-on..click-around

Hamburg-Wedel-Elbe-Web-Cams

Hamburg-Cruise-Center + Elbphilharmonie Hamburg- Elbe-Harbour-Web-Cams Old maps of the Elbe
from the Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, The National Library of Israel {{Authority control Elbe, Elbe basin, Elbe Rivers of the Hradec Králové Region Rivers of the Central Bohemian Region Rivers of the Pardubice Region Rivers of the Ústí nad Labem Region International rivers of Europe Rivers of Brandenburg Rivers of Hamburg Rivers of Lower Saxony Rivers of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Rivers of Saxony Rivers of Saxony-Anhalt Rivers of Schleswig-Holstein Inner German border Federal waterways in Germany Rivers of Germany