Canal Bridge Magdeburg

Status: Real
imageA photo of a "water bridge" is circulating around, accompanied by this caption:

Water Bridge in Germany.... What a feat! Six years, 500 million euros, 918 meters this is engineering! This is a channel-bridge over the River Elbe and joins the former East and West Germany, as part of the unification project. It is located in the city of Magdeburg, near Berlin. The photo was taken on the day of inauguration. To those who appreciate engineering projects.....

No, the picture hasn't been photoshopped. It's a real water bridge. Amazingly, the information in the accompanying caption is also correct. It is 918 meters long, and it did cost over half-a-billion euros to construct. (thanks to Dipankar for sending the photo)


Posted on Tue Oct 11, 2005


Reminds me of the Log Flumes at six flags.
Posted by X  on  Tue Oct 11, 2005  at  11:20 AM
Six years of construction and only 500million euros. How is that the federal goverment (of US) was spending 2 billion! a day after katrina in Lousiana? I just don't get it...
Posted by AAB  on  Tue Oct 11, 2005  at  02:59 PM
This Water Bridge looks way cool.
However, I'm at a loss to come up with some reason they might need such a thing.

Are you sure this is real, Alex?
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  on  Tue Oct 11, 2005  at  05:00 PM
Transportation architecture like this has been around since the Romans.
Posted by Bill  on  Tue Oct 11, 2005  at  08:06 PM
Here's another article about the bridge:,,990878,00.html

It seems that they wanted to link together two shipping canals.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Oct 11, 2005  at  08:16 PM
Water bridges are nothing new, as a previous commenter noted. There used to be one in Washington, DC, carrying the C&O canal over the Potomac River. It was the Aqueduct Bridge, and it once stood where today's Key Bridge stands. You can still see the piers in the water. ( and Bridge 1352.htm)
Posted by Gene Cowan  on  Tue Oct 11, 2005  at  09:58 PM
I come from a family of shipmen. I'm born and raised on Dutch, German and Belgian rivers and canals. I haven't been on the Magdeburg aquaduct, but I have on some others. It's a funny experience to be on a ship above a road with cars and all.

There are also elevators to take ships to a canal at a higher level:

Posted by Henri  on  Wed Oct 12, 2005  at  02:16 AM
You mean a picture with a REAL caption?? AMAZING.

Posted by Maegan  on  Wed Oct 12, 2005  at  04:57 AM
... "It seems that they wanted to link together two shipping canals."

I gathered that from the first article, but what I don't understand is why they couldn't just dig a 1-km-long ditch between the two canals, instead of building a (presumably much more difficult and expensive) "water bridge."
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  on  Wed Oct 12, 2005  at  12:57 PM
"... why they couldn't just dig a 1-km-long ditch between the two canals ..."

Since the aquaduct (water bridge) crosses the river Elbe, I can think of two reasons.

A) The canals connected are at a higher level than the river Elbe.

B) The canal-system is made separate from the river Elbe to ensure a constant water mark (water height) and a reliable transport route.
As you can read on,,990878,00.html : "The water bridge will enable river barges to avoid a lengthy and sometimes unreliable passage along the Elbe. Shipping can often come to a halt on the stretch if the river
Posted by Henri Kaper  on  Wed Oct 12, 2005  at  03:12 PM
" ...In Germany the rivers have their source in the mountains and they stream through The Netherlands to the sea."

Well, some of them do, but I believe the Elbe and the other rivers mentioned in this news story run north to the Baltic Sea.
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  on  Wed Oct 12, 2005  at  05:35 PM
Maybe they just wanted to show off.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Oct 12, 2005  at  10:56 PM
"Well, some of them do, but I believe the Elbe and the other rivers mentioned in this news story run north to the Baltic Sea."

I've never been good at topography. 🙄 Anyway, regardless where the Elbe runs to, it has the problem the water sometimes gets to low for ships. So ...
Posted by Henri  on  Thu Oct 13, 2005  at  01:07 AM
Posted by CAPTEN ARCH  on  Tue Oct 18, 2005  at  10:27 AM
Bill is right, water bridges for canals have been around since Roman times and the British used several for the Navigations, a system of canals for transport still used today.

having said that, this one looks a damn site bigger and wider than those. What sort of cumec capacity doe sit have? Anyone know?
Posted by DFSTuckey  on  Wed Oct 19, 2005  at  01:14 AM
Here's a picture explaining why they built it: raids/Resources/Elbecrossing.jpg
Posted by Clark Cox  on  Tue Dec 06, 2005  at  02:16 PM
This bridge connects two main canals that are in fromer East and West Germany: the Mittellandkanal (Midland Canal)in West Germany and the Elbe-Havel Canal in East Germany. Plans to join them where started in 1919 and construction was even started in 1938, but they were postponed by WW2 and then the post war separation of Germany. After reunification in the 1990's the connecting of the canals on either side of the former border was made a top priority.
Posted by Ruthie  on  Sun Mar 06, 2011  at  03:30 PM
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